My friend Jim recently did an editorial on what the Bible says about judging, which reminded me that I had been wanting to post on this subject, for some time. At his urging, I am doing so now.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). We've all heard and read this scripture. In fact, the world has drilled it into our heads so much, that many of us are beginning to apply it to every situation. It's the Biblical justification for political correctness and the mantra of "live and let live."
But it's a lie, my friends. The world of sinners is using this quote by Jesus, taken out of context, to disarm true Christians and prevent them from pointing out sin. Here, I will attempt to put the verse in context and provide you with several other verses, with which you can build a defense shield, against the fiery arrows of the enemy.
First, read Matthew 7:1-5, to see what Jesus' point was. It becomes apparent that He was talking to hypocrites (v. 5), who point out people's flaws that they themselves also suffer from. It's like one alcoholic telling another to stop drinking. What's Jesus' solution? "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." So He's saying, "don't judge, until your own judgement is cleared of the same sin."
This sets up His next statement, in v 6, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine...." So, he has us purify our hearts, so that we may be able to tell the deaf ears from the ready hearts.
In vs 15-16, Jesus warns us about false prophets, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." So clearly, we are to judge who is a false prophet, and He even tells us how: by their words and deeds.
But what does it mean to judge? In the Bible, this word has two connotations. The first is discernment, telling good deeds from evil deeds. Even without studying God's Word, most people can do this, to a certain level. Any rational being will tell you that stealing and murder are wrong. Even if we're trapped by sin, we usually know that we are doing wrong, for our conscience pricks us. But to tell it to another person, who knows that we are trapped in the same sin is hypocritical and would have little effect on that person.
The second meaning is that of condemning someone for their evil actions, as in a court of law. Obviously, only God will ever have the power to actually sentence someone to an eternity in Hell. However, we have the right to tell a sinner, "Jesus says that if you do not repent, you will die in Hell" (Luke 13:3,5).
So can we really judge? Are there other scriptures that support us (provided we have searched our hearts and found them free of clouding of sin)? You bet!
Proverbs 26, for example, has plenty to say about how we should deal with fools. But how can we tell if someone's a fool, unless we judge them a fool?
"But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin" (Micah 3:8). This is one of my favorite verses, which assures us that the Holy Spirit gives us the power and authority to point out other people's sins. Obviously, this should be in a loving attitude, in an effort to steer them back to the Light.
Paul also has a lot to say about hypocritical judging, in Romans 2.
And perhaps one of the clearest encouragements to judge others in righteousness, is found in Lev. 19:15: "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour."
The picture above was copied from a similar article on judging, from the Word Incarnate blog.
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