I am sure that if not you, you must have heard someone else say this “Do not judge”, quoting Jesus in defence of whatever wrong they have done. There are countless pictures all over the internet all with the same message. “No one except God has the right to judge another person”. I saw one recently with the text “Why are you judging me, I never heard that God was recruiting”. It is actually reasonable. Why should you pass a verdict over someone when you are no better yourselves? We are all lost, all doomed to the same end, except for those who have found hope in the way of escape Jesus Christ provided by paying with His blood, His life.
But, my question is, when Jesus said JUDGE NOT, did he mean we shouldn’t point out the wrongs others do, and just shrug our shoulders and say, “only God has the right to judge”?
Before I attempt to answer this question, I must state that no one likes to be judged, no one wants to be put on the spot while everybody points hands and slam them for a mistake or a misdeed. Could this feeling be actually an attempt to shut the screaming noise from within that is already pointing fingers and screaming?
In Matthew 7:1, Jesus said: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Except you read the text like the picture above, you’ll know Jesus wasn’t condemning the act of judging others, or why will he say “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” in John 7:24? Jesus in this text certified Judging. Before we go deeper, let’s consider Paul’s text that also causes some form of controversy.
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master, he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand…Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. (Rom 14:4,13)
It is good to read the Bible in context of what was happening, so here is the situation. Some people consider eating everything (vegetables and meat) as not wrong since there is no other God and creator of all things other than God, while others consider eating meat wrong because they considered it as unclean. So you’ll note that they are both doing the opposite thing in the honour of God based on their level of understanding.
Paul further illustrates that some people mark some days as sacred, while others refer to everyday as sacred. He said everyone should be convinced in their own mind. He also described this as not a moral matter but a matter of our attitudes towards it. Paul asks us not to judge each other, he refers to this as a trivial matter, and gave the benchmark as everything done as everything that does not come from faith is a sin.
But this same Paul in another letter of his judged some people.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather…have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 1 Corinthians 5:1-3 (NIV)
Come on, you are reading this for yourself. The same Paul that said we shouldn’t pass judgement on one another said he has already passed judgement on the person who was guilty of the sexual immorality.
Reading the next verse will explain what should be the purpose of passing judgment on wrongdoing- the wrongdoings should be acts that are already painted in the bible as condemnable. I believe this is where a lot of people get it wrong -people that judge others I mean.
THE PURPOSE OF PASSING A JUDGEMENT
… hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:5 (NIV)
Judging someone, even though it sounds like a humiliating act isn’t humiliation at all. It’s not spiting or scorning them, it’s not like tying them to the stake and wetting them with fuel to set them ablaze, it’s definitely not wrapping your hand around them and acting as if they’ve done nothing wrong, but ultimately, the purpose or the motivation for judging someone must be to bring about correction, to make them realise they are on the wrong path.
Even Jesus in Matthew 7 illustrating judging others as attempting to remove a speck from their eyes. That’s an attempt to help, to correct not destroy.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THE JUDGING?
How you go about the judging speaks a lot. Do you go to them secretly and calmly to point out where they are getting it wrong? Or do you paint their face on the billboard?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-2, and I paraphrase, “don’t go about judging others if (in a way) you can’t take it yourself”.
Here is Jesus’ recommendation;
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matt 18.15-17
But note the following;
- Before you judge anybody; Deal with your own issues first.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Deal with your own issues first. There seem to be some people that never see anything wrong with themselves. Yet always notice what so and so are doing wrong. They assume the post of a spiritual law enforcement agent, going about looking for who has broken a law.
This is exactly what Jesus is against. Not criticising others to see them change, but doing it while ignoring your own faults. Before you point to someone’s misdeeds, make sure you’ve submitted yourself to God’s righteous standards. Otherwise, how will you know the fellow has faulted the same standard you know nothing about?
- Who to judge and who not to judge. You can’t judge everybody.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” (1 Cor 5:12-13)
Remember that the purpose of judging is to restore, to correct the person, to help them see the light. Now tell me of what relevance is this to someone who isn’t in the faith at all? To someone who isn’t saved, who has no knowledge of God’s standard of living, what he/she needs first is salvation; otherwise, the whole judging is fruitless.
God judges those outside the church, outside the faith.
By now, I’m sure you would have realised that “to judge” means to “motivate/reprove/correct unto better action/works”. There is no point in this to someone outside the faith, and when it isn’t achieving a change unto better works, it’s isn’t judging anymore.
Lastly, judging someone is not to see them live to your own standard or assume your own beliefs and doctrine, but to submit themselves to Christ’s standard, to the Bible’s standard. This clarifies the grey area like in eating meat or setting a particular day aside to worship. God is honoured or glorified other ways, whether you eat or you don’t. For matters that the bible has a clearly defined verdict on them, There is nothing like “only God can judge me”. Because He has already, it is on the pages of the scriptures.
There are countless verses that say things like “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Cor 6:9-10.
So if someone confronts you to rescue you from the burning flame of hell. Unless you can prove that those acts are to God’s glory. You have to appreciate and embrace such a person because they love you sincerely and not throw the “Judge not” in their face.
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