22 April, 2013

Judge Not?

I’m really disturbed by the number of people who use phrases, "Don’t Judge Me", or "Stop Judging and Love", "God's the only judge"  other similar ones these days. Somehow the world, even the church, has gotten and embraced the notion that judging is bad. I find it particularly interesting (and frustrating) that the people who do not believe in or follow Christ actually dare say that it’s a teaching of Jesus that we shouldn’t judge each other. But it is of even more concern that people who are in the Church, and especially those who call themselves a minister of the Gospel actually are proponents of this erroneous teaching as well. Let's call it what it is... the truth of the matter is that inasmuch as people say they don’t want to be judged or hear others being judged – what they are actually saying is that they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.   What they are in essence saying is "Just accept my actions without holding me accountable for them." Furthermore, many of these "don't judge" folks within the Body of Christ do their best to teach others that we are not to judge because they know that eventually, the finger is going to point back at them and they themselves do not want to be held accountable for their sloppy and inconsistent walk with Christ.

Am I saying that I am perfect? Absolutely not! But the fact is, I actually have people in my life that I have made myself accountable to and I ask them to confront me when they see inconsistencies, short comings and failure in my life. I have those that will firmly but lovingly tell me, "Darrell, you need to check your attitude." (Or whatever area I may be failing in.) You see, the fact is that even though this teaching of "judge not" has become wide spread and common, it is in error. In reality, true love actually cares enough to confront! Yes, true love does judge. True love is not apathetic nor timid. True love does not allow sin to triumph over the person they love without a fight. True love does not turn a blind eye and deaf ear and walk away without trying to help one who is struggling or fallen. A person who really cares wants to see their friends, loved ones and fellow believers in Heaven and when they see someone straying off course, they will do whatever is needful to help that person right their course.  My point is that if you have people in your life who are not judging you, but are just letting you commit all types of immorality without telling you are wrong, and not encouraging you to do better, then what you have in your life are people who do not truly love you, or rather who do not know how to love you as they ought.

One of the problems is that we don't really understand what it means to "judge."  One of the best ways I know how to put it into an everyday working definition is to say that the type of judging that God wants and expects of us it to tell someone the truth about themselves.  It is to be done in love and compassion, not in an effort to condemn or tear someone down. To judge with love should actually build others up, not tear down.  This is the what Paul commanded of us in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 when he wrote, "We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good for each other and for all”. 
Using verses such as this leads me to the belief that I can confidently say that I firmly believe that to not judge is to not love.

So, what does the Bible say about judging? The following are just a few verses written concerning judging. I'm only using New Testament for this writing to cut short the argument of those who would say we should not use the Old Testament for anything pertaining the governing of the church:

*  “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.” (John 7:24)  (Oops! It tells us to judge!)
*  “Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” [Jesus] said to him, “You have judged rightly.”” (Luke 7:43) 
* But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (1 Corinthians 2:15)
* “Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you unqualified for the lowest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Then why not everyday matters?” (1 Cor 6:2-3)

Now... what about that ONE passage? You know... the one EVERYONE quotes (or misquotes) and thinks they know.
I'm talking about Matthew 7:1-5.
Mat 7:1-5
(1)  Judge not, that ye be not judged.
(2)  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
(3)  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
(4)  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
(5)  Thou hypocrite, 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.

Let's take a look at it and break it apart.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." 
Newsflash... this is NOT a command!  It is quite simple in saying that if you don't want to be judged, then don't judge.
The problem is, this is the only part people want to quote. But it goes on to say, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye met, it shall be measure to you again. Romans 2:1-5 helps us to clarify this. It says You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
Clearly, what Jesus and Paul are both saying is to stop being a hypocrite and being judgmental against people when you are doing the very same things!  Notice what Jesus says in verse 3 says in that Matthew: "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?"  Jesus is saying that you cannot judge others if you are also guilty of what you are judging them for!
He continues: "How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite..."  (Please note who Jesus is speaking to in this passage! He is talking to the Pharisees! His audience is a group of hypocrites!) He continues: "...remove the wooden beam from your eye first..." (In other words, we are to judge ourselves first! Clean up your own house before you go pointing out the dust in someone elses house.) He continues: "then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye."
Notice... he does not say to leave the splinter in your brothers eye, but to clean up your own house first so that you can help your brother with his!   
Not quite the way we heard this taught... is it? Certainly not by those screaming, "Only God can judge me!"

There is another verse I want to look at, probably the second most misquoted verse in all of scripture, certainly when referring to judging.  It is found in James 4:11-12.
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

This verse, in context clearly is speaking of speaking (or writing) slander of a fellow Christian. It is not related at all to the meaning given to it by so many today. It is simply speaking about how we make a mockery of the Word of God and the Body of Christ and even God himself when we slander one another. That's it. Nothing more.

I could go on, but I think I've made my case. So, let the arguing begin!

1 comment:

Larry Knight said...

Darrell, you've given an excellent explanation of this part of our responsibility as adopted sons and daughters of God! The enemy of God has done to this passage what he has done to all the Bible: twisted the meaning and confused the hearers. That's why we need to ask Holy Spirit to be Who He is: our Filterer, to let in God's Truth and keep out the devil's lies!