“Don’t judge me! That’s what Jesus said.”

Have you ever been confronted by this statement? Were you trying to share the Good News of Christ or the fact that we are all sinners before God? Or did you use this statement yourself when someone was unjustly accusing you? Are we never to judge?

Many in the modern world repeat this statement. It’s become the mantra of accepting everyone and everything. It is said that no lifestyle or action should be criticized, since judging another person is above one’s calling. But before we accept this belief, we should examine more closely what Jesus actually said about judging:

Matthew 7:1-5:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Recently as I read these verses, I noticed the particular type of judging Jesus was talking about: hypocritical judging. Jesus is warning against people who judge others while they themselves are doing the same actions that they claim to loath. Notice that Jesus tells you to first “take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus is saying that if we are, say, sleeping with another man’s wife, then we would be hypocrites to judge another man for playing around outside of marriage. “Reform your life first,” He says, “before you even think of judging someone else’s life.”

This is a very important point to remember. Too many of us criticize someone else’s pride, vanity, love of money, etc., without actually applying the judgment to our own lives to see if we are practicing these same things. In this we should be ashamed. Whenever we read a commandment of God, we first must see if we are obeying it before we go off and criticize someone else for disobeying it. Hypocritical judging is exactly what Jesus is warning against.

However, does this mean that we never judge? Are we never supposed to judge an action or lifestyle as wrong or harmful, or tell someone the dangers of it? Just recently I was debating the issue of abortion and the right of life for the unborn, and one commenter was saying we should not judge others. “It’s their decision,” was the general theme. Does Jesus’ injunction on judging cover this type as well?

If you watch Jesus’ actions and words throughout the Gospels, it is clear that some types of judgment are good. For example, Jesus Himself sensed the wickedness of the Pharisees (who were outraged that Jesus cast out a demon from a man), and He made these very judgmental comments:

“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil” (Matthew 12:34-35).

Calling religious leaders a “brood of vipers” is just about as judgmental as you can get! Yet we hear Christ saying these very words! So was He not following His own injunction against judging?

Of course not! As we examined earlier, Christ warns against judging done in hypocrisy. If you are going to judge, you have to make sure that you yourself are not committing the offense. You must be able to have judicial judgment. Other Godly men besides Jesus practiced this proper judging, such as the apostle Paul:

“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

 

Here Paul, one of the original missionaries of the faith, whom Jesus appeared to Himself, specifically states in his letter to the Corinthian people that they are sinning and that this is shameful behavior. They should not be sinning, since they have knowledge of God. Paul makes proper judgment here, because he is not being hypocritical, but he is being kind in alerting them to the dangers to their souls and their walk with God in continuing this behavior.

 

Thus, if we are to judge anything, first we must know that we ourselves are not committing the offense. We must be holy just as our standard of judgment is holy. And second, we must do it in a spirit of love for the other person. The purpose of pointing out the error of another’s ways is to bring that person safely to a new frame of mind. We care about this person – that’s why we would risk offending him in order to tell him the truth of God that he so desperately needs. Just as a father would lovingly chide his child about the matches he is playing with, so we are to tell others in love the truth of God, even when it hurts. We do this not to hate, but to love as God loves.

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