Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Should Christians Judge?
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.." Matthew7:1-5 (NKJV)
For the next few days I'll be looking at the common Spiritual Urban Legend that says, "Christians Shouldn't Judge". This SUL (Spiritual Urban Legend) says something like, "Jesus forbade His followers to judge, therefore Christians should not judge others."
This thinking come from such verses as:
"Judge not, that you be not judged." Matthew 7:1 (NKJV)
"Therefore let us not judge one another anymore." Romans 14:13 (NKJV)
"Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge." James 4:11 (NKJV)
However, as we shall see, this is not what these passages teach us! As in the other SUL’s, this one takes Bible verses out of context and makes them say whet they never intended. Indeed, not only does this SUL take these verses out of context but it fails to see the whole Biblical context of teaching on judging. For example, what about 1 Corinthians 2:15? This verse seems to state the opposite of the above verses when it states, "But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one"(NKJV). The Greek word for ‘to judge’ is the same in all instances (‘krino’), meaning "to properly distinguish between right and wrong".
To see how we are to know when to judge and when not to let’s start by examining Matthew 7:1 in context.Jesus was here addressing the Jewish leaders who were pointing their fingers at others in judgement, like those who came condemning the woman in adultery. Jesus was not saying there's no place for such judgements as sin needs to be exposed. However, He was bringing forth the principle that we cannot judge hypocritically, where we are living with sin in our own lives, often in similar areas to those we are accusing.
Jesus ends up by saying, "First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.." Here He is clearly saying that there is a time for removing the sins of others, only not when we are having bigger sins in our own lives due to hypocrisy. Indeed, Matthew 7 goes on to say that we must judge who are "dogs" and "swine" (v6) and judge between true and false prophets (v15).
In the case of the woman caught in Adultery (John 8:3-11). Jesus exposed the scribes and Pharisees hypocrisy and then did not condemn the women but let her go. You may look at this as proof that we are not to judge. But Jesus did make a judgement when He said, "Go and sin no more" (v11) and He was also judging the hypocrisy of the others! There is a time for us to judge but we need the wisdom of God to know when that is. That's what I will look at in over the following days.
To judge or not to judge?
That's a tricky question.
If , in sin, I will not budge,
Then it is I who is undone!
"Father, purge me of all hypocrisy that I may live an upright life that others will judge as worthy of following. Amen."