Do not Judge? You should judge rightly!
We always hear in the believer's circles: "Do not judge" or "Are you judging me?" or "How can you do this as a Christian?!" (- relating to a statement made). Furthermore, we are asked to tolerate almost everything in our society. Tolerance is one word that characterizes our culture today. Tolerance, of religion (except for Christianity!), different lifestyles, opinions, and peoples, how ungodly they maybe, are required from us.
This topic boggled my mind for some time in the early days of faith. I was in a sort of dilemma as I did not know how to react to such situation if you try to point out something. Intrestingly, if you give a positive judgement like "you're awesome", no one complains "Do not judge"! The most confusing part was that if someone is accusing you (or defending themselves) of judging, they are indeed judging you too - that you've been their judge! This arises to a logical fallacy that we can't judge! More over in every situation we must make a decision based on sound judgement. Else there would be chaos in this world and we call those people who are not able to make the right judgement as an insane person!
If we talk in this line some people would say, oh yes, you need to judge the situation and not a person! Interesting conclusion as good judgement comes from experience also. In this section, we'll look at how true are these statements and if at all we are allowed to pass any judgement. Many people find it pleasurable to discuss someone else's faults. Most of the time when requested "do not judge", our thought is channelled in this line. In fact, we must not do self-righteous, hypocritical judging which is false and damage others. We must always speak the truth in love.
First let's see what some others has to say about judgement:
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." - Mother Teresa "It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." - Albert Einstein "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King, Jr. "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson
What do we hear in these words?
Actually, the base of this article was prepared years ago when I was going through something else as there was a problem in the "fellowship" I was attending but ended up in a totally different topic. I was analysing false prophets and the like. The attention was drawn to how to deal with them and then finally to the "judgement" on such.
As per the Bible, there are two key times when we must judge others: when we see another believer committing sin and when we evaluate a person to be a leader in a fellowship (1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1:7-9). We are also to evaluate false teachers and avoid them (2 John 7-11). But we must make sure that our evaluations are righteous, objective, prayerful and with a heart of love.
How to deal with a sinning brother?
Before that how do we know that if someone did sin?!
15"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' 17And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Mt 18:15-17)
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (Gal 6:1)
We see that judgement can be executed in at least in three ways: 1) correct evaluations from a heart of love, 2) correct evaluations with a negative attitude, and 3) incorrect evaluations of other people with or with out the right attitudes. There are 5 types of judges mentioned in Romans chapter 2: (v1-11)
1. The inconsistent judge judges himself (v1) 2. The hypocritical judge is judged by truth (v2) 3. The foolish judge reasons poorly (v3) 4. The presumptuous judge treasures up wrath (v4-11) 5. The righteous judge - God (v5)
Now let's look what the famous passage is talking about:
1"Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. 6Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces (Mt 7:1-6)
If we just stop at the 1st phrase - "Judge not", it will be to stop all judgement, but if we continue reading then we see what Jesus meant by those words! If we look at the parallel in Luke: "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Lk 6:36-38) -> This is the Principle of the Kingdom of God - give and it will be given back to you!
There are few ironies in this passage here. Firstly, v1 says: "Judge not, that you be not judged." What will be if someone thinks that by not judging he/she can escape from God's judgement? If they think that way they are being foolish or ignorant. We know that we'll all stand before the throne of God. The only way we can stand on that day is by being covered under the blood of Jesus! - by accepting His death, burial and resurrection for the remission of our sins!
Now, some might bring the following passage: 10But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. 11For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." 12So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way. (Rom 14:10-13). If we look at the context, its about eating particular food or observing special days, i.e. how we exercise our faith in relation to God. No matter what we're not to feel super-spiritual by what we do or do not do and impose our standards on others. We should look at God's standards.
Secondly, in v5 Jesus calls "hypocrite", does it seems judgement to the reader? If not, in v6, he mentions about "dogs" and "swine", if it was one of us, we would be blamed for name calling and condemnation! How can we identify who is a "dog" and "swine" unless we use sound judgement? If we're not allowed to judge how are we going to identify anyway? But one thing we are requested to do to remove the plank or the barriers that prevent us from executing right judgement.
God's Righteous judgement:
If we go down further in this chapter Jesus teaches us how to identify what is right. 17Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Mt 7:17-20). So, we're requested to make righteous judgement as per God's standards.
Jesus Himself is asking to judge righteously! 24"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement" ( Jn 7:24). God's righteous judgement is explained several times in the Old Testament also, for e.g. in the case of rejecting saul and selecting shepherd David: But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16:7)
Paul exhorts us to judge ourselves before partaking in Lord's Table so that we'll not bring wrath of God on us. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. ( 1 Cor 11:31) Indeed, everyone will be judged by God at the end and for those who are non-believers, they will be weighed by their own measures and no one can stand that judgement except under the covenant of Jesus' sacrifice since most of the time people falls into the first 4 category of judges.
Biblical examples of judgement:
Lets look more examples from the Bible where judgement is pronounced. Apostle James in his epistle writes: Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4) Interestingly, he speaks in v11 of the same chapter: 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. (Jas 4: 11) Look at the supposed irony, There is a judgement in verse 4 & in verse 11 it's said not to speak evil about one another nor judge!
Paul who exhorts us to follow Christ as he follows Him judges and requests righteous judgement. In the case of a sexually immoral person he judges even when being away from Corinth: For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. (1 Cor 5:3) He also exhorts us to judge what he speaks whether it is right! I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. (1 Cor 10:15).
The following is one of my favourite that keep me going in adverse situations! These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)
Bible requires us to judge believers!
9I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner- not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person." (1 Cor 5: 11-13)
Leave the ones outside for God if they did not turn back to Him! We're not supposed to persecute or expel non-believers but rather win over them to Christ. Scriptures asks us to judge who are inside the church!
But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. (2 Thes 3:6)
Beware of false teachers:
Scriptures asks us to test the spirit: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 Jn 4:1)
6I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6- 9) Look at the emphasis given, how can we if we do not test and make right judgement?
When we read Paul's request to Timothy: 2Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim 4:2-5) There is a list of things that requires sound judgement.
We are requested to expose the "unfruitful works of darkness": 8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph 5: 8 -11)
We're not only to expose but also to expel the wicked among us! 9But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3: 9-11)
How did Jesus react to the sinners?
10Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13"But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Mt 9:10-13)
26For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. 27Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor 11:26-31)
Now let's look back at the quotes in the beginning in the light of our study today.
To summarise, Jesus and the Bible requires us to judge rightly especially in the case of a believer! This has to be done with a humble heart and in love! Remember that Jesus was a friend of sinners but never indulged in their sin!
Let's think about these questions for a moment.
1. What kind of judge are we? 2. How do we help the weaker ones in faith? 3. How can we contribute to the Kingdom of God in a better manner?