JUDGE NOT PART 5

Jesus admonished us in Matthew 7:1, Judge not, that ye be not judged.  This is one of the most recited verses in all of Scripture. Yet it’s one of the most misunderstood, misapplied, and abused. The verse is most-commonly evoked in cases of sin, doctrinal error, or morality. And it is thus quoted to authoritatively and unequivocally declare that Christians have no right to judge others—including other Christians—who are involved in sin or error. It is perhaps a well-intentioned plea for Christians to just shut up, leave people alone, and let God do the judging.

I am not an advocate for judgmentalism. I detest that spirit and the aura of self-righteousness that goes with it when I see it manifest in Christians.

Christ prohibits us from judging other people and I believe we all need to give heed to our Lord and quit judging people. Let God do the judging and let us do the praying. We serve the cause of Christ best by befriending people and extending a helping hand instead of cutting them down and making them feel like dirt. The Word of God that we share in kindness and love, and the Spirit of Christ that we manifest with all meekness and gentleness, will minister conviction, life, and the hope of change. Judging them will not.

What I am against, however, is the thoughtless or flagrant use of Matthew 7:1 that produces a silence about sin where there ought to be none; and the use of our Lord’s prohibition to foster the accommodation, tolerance, and acceptance of sin among God’s people. Sin’s killing us. And our silence has resulted in a tragic and lamentable lowering of the righteous morality that Christ wants His followers to have.

What I’d like to do in these blog posts is provide balance to the prohibition by bringing out the whole counsel of Scripture.

The prohibition against judging in Matthew 7:1 tells us that there are times when it is indeed wrong for us to judge others. In my last blog post in this series we saw that it’s wrong for us to judge self-righteously and hypocritically. Let’s look at a third instance where it would be inappropriate and wrong for us to judge others.

IT’S WRONG FOR US TO BE CRITICAL WHEN WE JUDGE

The word judge, in and of itself, is not a bad word or thing. It comes from the Greek word krino and the word means to separate or distinguish.

Think of it as going to the vegetable section of your supermarket. When you’re buying bananas you look over the selection of bananas and you pick out the bunch that looks the nicest to you. You do the same thing with lettuce. You seldom just glance down and pick up the first head that your hand touches. No, you look at several heads of lettuce and you get the one that looks the nicest to you; you reject the one that’s starting to turn brown. THAT’S WHAT JUDGING IS: YOU’RE LOOKING AT EVERYTHING AND YOU’RE SEPARATING THE GOOD FROM THE BAD; YOU’RE PICKING OUT THE GOOD FROM THE NOT-AS-GOOD.

A critic and criticism are the same way. Criticism is the act of looking closely at a person, thing, or issue and evaluating its merits or faults. A critic in the true sense of the term looks for the good, as well as the bad.

Now when he finds the bad it’s because the thing is bad. The critic doesn’t make it bad—he just finds it and singles it out and tells people “this is bad or faulty; there’s something wrong with this one.”

Consumer Reports is an organization that’s dedicated to trying out all sorts of products and name brands, testing them, and seeing which one of them works best and which ones don’t work as good. We deem their work to be very good, informational, and beneficial.

So judging and criticizing are not necessarily bad or wrong in and of themselves. When the Bible speaks of not judging, it’s not telling us to quit discerning or quit being on the lookout for something or someone that’s bad.

Unfortunately, judging and criticizing, or being discerning, have gotten a bad rap and are viewed with disdain because of the bad or wrong that they end up finding a lot of times. Because we’re all imperfect, there’ll always be something bad or wrong about each one of us. That’s just the hard fact of life and that’s the way it is.

In this sense, if we talk about a critic in the bad sense of the word, A CRITIC IS SOMEONE WHO SPENDS HIS OR HER TIME LOOKING FOR WHAT’S WRONG WITH PEOPLE. A critic doesn’t look for what’s good in a person. A critic doesn’t encourage or commend a person for his/her good qualities or achievements. HE doesn’t talk about what’s good about a person or thing. A CRITIC IS OUT TO LOOK FOR WHAT’S WRONG. TO BE CRITICAL IS TO LOOK WITH THE SOLE INTENT AND PURPOSE OF FINDING SOMETHING WRONG. A CRITIC IS A FAULT-FINDER.

  • When he finds what’s wrong, a critic is pretty loud or vocal about what he’s found. He’s a pretty negative person because all he talks about is what’s wrong with everyone and everything.
  • When a critic finds what’s wrong, the judge in him steps out and judges, or condemns, the wrong or bad. So criticism and judgmentalism go hand in hand. A CRITICAL PERSON LOOKS FOR WHAT’S WRONG. AND A JUDGMENTAL PERSON CONDEMNS THE PERSON WHO’S WRONG.
  • If a critic doesn’t find anything wrong at first glance, he doesn’t give up looking. He digs deeper and continues to dig until he finds what’s wrong. A CRITIC IS A DIRT-DIGGER. HE’S GOOD AT DIGGING UP DIRT and making people’s lives miserable.
  • HE’S ALSO A NIT-PICKER. He looks at every little thing and magnifies it so that it looks really really big when, in all actuality, it’s really not that big of a deal.  He makes mountains out of molehills. Stuff that isn’t really important is made  all too important.

Look at Matthew 7:3. A critic looks at a mote in a person’s eye. A mote is a small thing and a lot of us don’t notice when a person has a mote. We’re too busy looking at the person that we don’t notice a tiny mote.

When we think of a mote in terms of a splinter, which is what a mote was in Jesus’ day, not too many of us can see a tiny splinter in a person’s eye if we’re standing at least an arm’s length from that person. We’d really have to be up close to the person, in his face, and sometimes with a magnifying glass, before we can see the tiny piece of grass, hair, or dust that’s in a person’s eye. The point is, we just don’t see a splinter or mote under normal circumstances.

But a critic notices it right off because he gets up close, in your face even if you don’t ask him, and he sees it. He sees it because he’s looking for it.

Now when Jesus commands us in Matthew 7:1, Judge not, lest ye be judged, the implication is He’s commanding us not to judge because He knows we’re going to be critical when we judge. It’s like when you tell your kids not to play in the dirt. You tell them that because you know they’re probably going to do it and you want to stop them from doing it. Jesus is the same way about judging. He knows we’re going to look for people’s faults and be critical of them; and He wants us to stop it.

Like we said in the previous posts, Jesus in John 7:24 wants us to judge. To judge righteous judgment and not judge by appearance. He wants us to judge, but not judge in a way that we’re critical.

How can you know or tell if you’re being critical? If you’re looking at people with the purpose and intent of finding out what’s wrong with them, if the reason you’re looking is to find fault with them, if all you see and think and talk about is what’s wrong with people and things; if you’re condemning of others; you’re critical.

So when Jesus commands us not to judge, He’s telling us HE DOESN’T WANT US TO JUDGE WITH A CRITICAL, FAULT-FINDING, DIRT-DIGGING, NIT-PICKING, PEOPLE-CONDEMNING, LIFE-SNUFFING, SPIRIT. HE DOESN’T WANT US TO BE PREOCCUPIED WITH, AND FOCUSED ON, PEOPLE’S FAULTS.

Within the framework of Jesus’ Law, be it the Law of Love,IF YOU’RE CRITICAL YOU’RE NOT ONE TO JUDGE. YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED OR AUTHORIZED TO JUDGE. YOU ARE INCAPABLE OF RENDERING JUST JUDGMENT. YOU CANNOT HELP PEOPLE OR MINISTER TO THEM IF YOU’RE CRITICAL OF THEM.

Coming up on my next blog post in this series, Part 6 looks at another reason why Jesus doesn’t want us to judge. We’re so busy looking at what’s wrong with people, but God’s going to continue telling us in these posts what’s wrong with us when we’re judging people. Still think you’re right? Wanna bet?

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