JUDGE NOT PART 6

INTRODUCTION

As we saw in my earlier post from John 7:24, there are times when it isn’t wrong for us to judge one another (JUDGE NOT PART 2). Having said this, the prohibition against judging in Matthew 7:1 tells us that there are times when it is indeed wrong for us to judge people. Let’s look at a fourth instance when judging is inappropriate and is an act of disobedience to God.

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

There are a lot of things wrong with a critical, judgmental person. (1) He’s hypocritical and self-righteous as we saw in the previous posts. (2) He’s partial and preferential. He’s unfair and unjust because he judges people by one standard but doesn’t judge himself by the same standard. (3) He’s critical in the sense that he’s focused solely on what’s wrong with people. And (4) a critical, judgmental person is a really harsh, unmerciful person. He’s got no mercy. No compassion. No understanding. No sympathy. No second chances. No chances to get it right. No forgiveness. No love or prayers for people who have problems.

A critic and a judge live by law: “you did this, you deserve this.” That’s all good and fine on the day of judgment or in a time of incurable hardening and unrepentance. But THE LORD DOESN’T LIVE EACH DAY IN JUDGMENT MODE. If He did, none of us would live another day. The Psalmist says it well in Psalm 130:3, If thou, O Lord, should mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand? The idea here is, if all the Lord ever did was make a record of our sins—gathering all the evidence needed to condemn us—who could ever live? If God lived this way there is no life after sin and judgment!

But the Psalmist goes on and gives us the hope of life: But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared, Psalm 130:4. The Judge could live every day in judgment mode if He wanted to. But He doesn’t! He made us! He loves us! Do you think He wants to kill and damn us? You’ve got God figured out wrong if you think so. Christ and Calvary are the proof of that and they are a resounding testimony of God’s love and desire to forgive and save, not record, remember, and damn. THE JUDGE LIVES EACH DAY IN FORGIVENESS MODE. He offers forgiveness and pardon so that we can live. God is not willing that any should be damned, but that all should come to repentance, forgiveness, and life (2 Peter 3:9). This is the heart of God and it’s the very heart that’s lacking in every critic. That’s every critic without exception.

A CRITICAL, JUDGMENTAL PERSON HAS A COLD, UNCARING, UNMERCIFUL, UNFORGIVING HEART. HE OR SHE IS INTERESTED IN KILLING PEOPLE INSTEAD OF MINISTERING LIFE AND HOPE TO THEM.

In Luke 6:36-37 Jesus links judgment with mercy and forgiveness. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  (37)  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

A judge is given to the punishment of wrong: he condemns the people who are guilty and ministers death to them. But Jesus doesn’t want us to be like this. He wants us to be merciful and forgiving.

Now this is very instructive and enlightening. We are an imperfect people. We’ve got problems. We’ve got things that are wrong with us. We make mistakes. Critics use our imperfections against us to condemn and contemn us; to discourage and dishearten us; to make us miserable and mad.

But Jesus commands us to be merciful and forgiving! JESUS KNOWS THERE ARE THINGS WRONG WITH US. HE COULD CONDEMN AND BAD-MOUTH US. BUT INSTEAD OF MINISTERING DEATH, JESUS FORGIVES. HE’S SET THE EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW AND HE PLAINLY COMMANDS US TO BE MERCIFUL AND FORGIVING.

To me, the best example of a person who doesn’t have any heart or mercy is the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:23-35. You know the story. A servant owes his master a big sum of money. The master threatens to sell the slave’s family and possessions to recoup his loss. But the slave begs for mercy and patience. And the master ends up not following through on his threat because he’s got a merciful heart. This same slave, now forgiven, went out and found a fellow slave who owed him a tiny bit of money. The fellow slave begs for mercy and patience. But the forgiven slave refuses to show mercy and throws his fellow indebted slave into debtor’s prison.

Do you get the point of the parable? Jesus was real merciful with us as sinners. He forgave us and saved us. He wants us to be like Him, follow His lead, and be forgiving and merciful with people who have wronged us. And if we’re not, we’ll end up where the unmerciful, forgiven-but-unforgiving servant ended up: tormented.

Friends, IF YOU LIVE WITHOUT MERCY YOU’LL DIE WITHOUT MERCY. IF YOU’RE HARD AND UNFORGIVING TOWARDS PEOPLE GOD WILL BE HARD AND UNFORGIVING TOWARDS YOU! For he shall have judgment without mercy that  have shown no mercy, James 2:13.

A critic forgets how God has been so merciful, forgiving, patient and kind towards him. HE’S ALLOWED HATE TO FILL HIS HEART. AND HATRED ALWAYS LEADS TO DEATH. IT MINISTERS DEATH. 1 John 3:15 warns us that whosoever hates his brother is a murderer. A critic is harsh and hard on people because he’s got no heart for people. He may never admit it, but the truth is he hates the person he’s critical of.

A critic will likely never admit to wanting to kill a person. She won’t take a knife or gun in hand and kill the person she’s critical about. But HAVING A CRITICAL MINDSET AND TONGUE IS ALL THE SAME AS WIELDING THE INSTRUMENTS OF MURDER AND DEATH! God doesn’t see any difference between a critical mind and a gun, between a critical tongue and a knife, because they both produce the same result—death, if not of the body, then certainly of the spirit. The depression, discouragement, anger, feelings of resentment, rejection, unworthiness, and more; all the feelings and emotions that come with being criticized and condemned kill the soul. They sap the life out of a person. IN GOD’S EYES THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CRITIC AND A MURDERER. Now I’m really getting ahead of myself. More on this in my next blog.

Coming Up On My Next Post, Part 7. The final post in this series looks at God’s attitude towards a critic. And, as you would expect, He’s got some rather harsh words to say to the harsh. If you’re a judge drop by for your trial and sentencing before the Judge. You’ll get a taste of your poison and we’ll see how you like it.  

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?

JUDGE NOT PART 3

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.

In my last blog post in this series we saw that there are times when it isn’t wrong for us to judge one another. This said, the prohibition against judging in Matthew 7:1 tells us that there are times when it is indeed wrong for us to judge others. Let’s look at one of these times when judging is inappropriate and is an act of disobedience to God.

IT’S WRONG FOR US TO JUDGE UNRIGHTEOUSLY OR UNFAIRLY

Jesus commanded us in John 7:24, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Jesus plainly tells us here that THE PROHIBITION AGAINST JUDGING IS NOT A PROHIBITION AGAINST JUDGING PERIOD, BUT A PROHIBITION AGAINST JUDGING A PERSON OUTWARDLY.

Now the word appearance  means what you can see outwardly, what you see with your eyes, what’s visible and seen to the naked eye. When you look at a person based on their stature or body size, their skin color, their clothes, their looks, their tats and piercings, their facial expressions or body language; when you make conclusions about them based on what you see or observe about them, you’re making a judgment, you’re passing judgment based on appearance, and this is the kind of judgment that God forbids.

What does it mean to judge outwardly or by appearance? It means that you’re judging by the facts and evidence that you have; you’re judging what you’ve seen or what others told you they saw. Your judgment is based strictly and entirely on what you heard and saw or on what the eyewitnesses told you they heard and saw.

But the thing that Jesus wants so desperately to warn us about is APPEARANCES CAN BE MISLEADING AND DECEIVING. THEY CAN FOOL YOU. The facts or the evidence, the hard cold proof, are true. They’re real. The gun in the guy’s hand, the sister walking out of the bar, the pastor seen with a hooker on Hooker Street; are all real. They’re true. BUT THE CONCLUSIONS THAT YOU DRAW BASED ON WHAT YOU SAW CAN BE MISLEADING. YOUR THINKING OR JUDGMENT BASED ON WHAT YOU HEARD CAN BE FALSE AND WRONG.

  • The guy with the gun in his hand picked it up after the real murderer ran past him and dropped it. And he dropped it just so that the innocent bystander will pick it up and people will think he was the murderer.
  • The sister who walked out of the bar went in there to call her husband and tell him the car broke down. The choice of using the bar’s telephone to make the call can be questioned. But if it was the closest business to the car, if it was the “safest” place for her to be in and not as dangerous as on the street, then that was her call. But the fact is, yes, she was in the bar. But your conclusion and accusation that she’s a drinker, she’s been drinking, she’s a drunk, is plainly wrong. What you saw was true. What you thought or decided wasn’t. The facts are true. The judgments or interpretations of the fact are what can be wrong.
  • The same thing can be said about the pastor with the hooker. In our day and age, yes, it’s possible that the pastor was playing spiritual hooky with the hooker. But, it’s just as possible he was witnessing to her. He wasn’t out looking for sex: he was looking for lost sheep. So before you pass judgment on what you saw, you’ve got to get the facts straight and get the whole truth.

WHEN YOU’RE JUDGING BY APPEARANCES YOU’RE JUDGING WITHOUT HAVING ALL THE FACTS. You’re not hearing both sides of the story. You’re not giving the accused or the defendant the chance to speak for herself; you’re judging the brother and condemning him without giving him an opportunity to explain or defend himself.

THERE’S A REASON OR EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS, FOR EVERYTHING A PERSON DOES. You saw what happened; you saw what she did; you heard what she said. And what you saw and heard was real and true. But what you don’t know is why she did that or said that. There are other factors, reasons, or motivations involved that you don’t know about and these are the details, facts, or necessary pieces of information that you need in order to judge righteous judgment.

APPEARANCES CAN FOOL YOU. THEY CAN LOOK RIGHT, UNMISTAKABLE, AND TRUE TO YOU. THE FACTS MAY BE TRUE, BUT IT’S YOUR CONCLUSIONS OR JUDGMENTS THAT MAY NOT BEJudgment based on appearances is bound to be wrong and that’s why God doesn’t want you to judge like that. If you’re going to judge, then judge righteously or not at all.

How do you judge righteously? TO JUDGE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE ALL THE FACTS, NOT JUST SOME OF THE FACTS. We often make the mistake of thinking we have all the facts. We hear one side of the story and we think we know it all, we have it all. But a part of the story is just that—a part. It’s never the whole story. Unless you talk to the actual person involved, you don’t have all the facts. And NOT HAVING ALL THE FACTS IS WHAT DISQUALIFIES YOU FROM JUDGING. IT’S WHAT PREVENTS YOU FROM JUDGING RIGHTEOUSLY. And this is the kind of judgment that God forbids.

Coming up in my next blog post in this series, a second kind of judging that God doesn’t want us to do. It’s a real eye-opener. So if you want to see clearly, drop on by and let the Master Ophthalmologist fix you right up.