To Judge or Not To Judge that is the question!
My heart has been heavy over judgments that Christians (yes even myself) make. Lately my thoughts have been consumed with “judge or judge not.”
When Christians say “don’t judge” are they being tolerant of sin? What does it mean when people like me say “do not judge.” I can’t speak for any other person but I do know that the meaning of the word judge depends on context.
Let’s first look at Luke Chapter 6 verses 35-38:
“But love your enemies, do good and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will 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.”
Here’s a similar passage from Matthew (Mt 7: 1-5):
“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 from your brother’s eye.”
I am using the Orthodox Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson and in the notes for Matthew Chapter 7 verse 2 it says:
“We will be judged with our own level of judgment because we are guilty of the very things we judge in others (Rom 2:1). We ourselves have failed in repentance and in fleeing from sin. To pass judgment is to assume God’s authority.”
We are commanded to love our enemies. We are commanded to love our neighbors. We are admonished to give mercy and to be careful about judging. Context is everything. And the fallen world doesn’t operate in black and white.
When I say I will not judge someone (ok, that should really be read as when I say I will STRIVE to not judge someone) it means that I will not heap condemnation upon them because I do not want condemnation. It means that I will not hold the past against them because I do not want my past held against me. It means I strive for not questioning or assigning motives. I do not know the hearts of others. In fact, I don’t even know my own heart.
If I start to think “what kind of person does….” or “why didn’t they …..” then I know that I have slipped into the dangerous waters of judging and the measure or standard that I am using, God will use on me.
In NO WAY does it mean that any sin committed is ok. Sin is missing the mark. Sin is falling short of the standard set by God. To say “I will not judge” does not mean that sin is condoned. It means “wow, I am a sinner and I want mercy and forgiveness from God.” It is an acknowledgment that God, that is Jesus when he comes again, has the authority to JUDGE the PERSON not me.
I am well aware of the sins of others, what I need is to be MORE aware of my own sins. I need to focus on getting that plank out of my own eye. My journey towards becoming more and more like Christ is hampered when I stop to inspect the specks in other people’s eyes.
There is a time and a place to lovingly come alongside someone and warn them of the danger they may face with a particular sin he may struggle with but that admonishment, that warning should never come heaped with condemnation, nor should it ever be soaked in presumption that you have all the facts of the situation.
Let me focus on the commandments given by Christ to love God, to love my neighbor as myself, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick but do not let me judge what is not my place to judge.
Lord have mercy!