Judge Not…

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” - Matthew 7:1-5

Our way of life depends on making judgments, opinions and evaluations. We are always rating something, weighing decisions, and watching things around us to make the right choices. And we all have to judge situations, circumstances and events, but according to Jesus, it is NOT OK to judge PEOPLE.

Unfortunately, we all love to judge. We all actively and passionately love to find faults in people to put them in categories and boxes.

We as GLBT people have felt judgment by other Christians who think we are sinful or NOT saved because of our sexuality.
And they will say about themselves, “ I’m not judging, I’m correcting in love.” (Trying to take the speck out of our eyes)
If they are not judging, then let me ask them what their definition of judging is?

The American Heritage Dictionary’s definition of “judge”:
1. To form an opinion or estimation of after careful consideration: judge heights; judging character.
2a. Law To hear and decide on in a court of law; try: judge a case.
b. Obsolete To pass sentence on; condemn.
c. To act as one appointed to decide the winners of: judge an essay contest.
3. To determine or declare after consideration or deliberation.
4. Informal To have as an opinion or assumption; suppose: I judge you're right.
5. Bible To govern; rule. Used of an ancient Israelite leader.

By separating themselves from us, those who say we are sinners give the impression that they are sinless. (Everyone is a sinner.)
And of course we defend ourselves by judging them in return.

An eye for an eye. But neither of us is right.

When one judges, one forms an opinion and from that opinion, we act, and negative judgment results in negative behavior.
We move away from people, fear them, take action against them and spread rumors so others will also take action. We make stereotypes and divisions to keep their kind away from us and when we do meet them, we twist everything about them to fit our idea of how they should be.
If we find they are nice, we think they are up to something. Or if they don’t behave as we think they should then we think they are atypical, but we continue to judge them, not once considering that the problem is with us and our unbridled prejudice of people not like us.

But alas this is one of our biggest sins as Christians, our inability to stop judging people.

When we judge we become the Judg-er (the one who judges), rather than the Judg-ee, (the one who is judged.)
And NO ONE wants to be judged, yet EVERYONE loves to judge.

But therein lies the quickest way to becoming a hypocrite.

The main reason why so many non-believers steer clear of Christians and churches is because they see our hypocrisy. They also have heard the words of Jesus ,"Do not judge" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." But they see us, His followers judging them for being sinful and using that against them.

Even non-believers are less judgmental than Christians can be.

When Jesus said “Do not judge,” it is an activity He is telling us not to be engaged in, yet many ministers continue to judge and teach their congregations to do the same. This has resulted in the messiah-like behavior of pointing the finger and judging each other as a part of Christian living. Judging is now a full time activity: separating the good from the bad. They point to Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul who all made judgments. But they were appointed by God.

They have decided they have speckless and log-free eyes and have appointed themselves to straighten out other people assuming that God approves and agrees with their judgments.

You will know a true anointed minister by his fruits.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." -Galatians 5:22-23

And the fruits of judging are self-righteousness, division, resentment, arrogance, alienation, condemnation and isolation,
while the fruits of NOT judging are love, acceptance, equality, fairness, inclusion, unity, healing, reconciliation and community.

And why does Jesus call the one who judges a hypocrite? Because the very ACT OF JUDGING is why he has a LOG in his eye in the first place. The LOG IS THE SPIRIT OF JUDGING. The sin of the person being judged are but a SPECK  compared to the HUGE LOG of SIN carried by the Judger, because judgment leads to action that separates people from each other. The fruit of judgment can cause prejudice, discrimination, false accusation, etc.

A minister seeking to serve God in Spirit understands that IT IS NOT RIGHTEOUS to judge others, but to be humble before God AND His people. To those who choose to continue to judge others, Jesus not only says, “...take the log out of your own eye...”, but says also “...He who is without sin among you, let him be the the first to throw a stone...” -John 8:7, meaning to say…look at yourself first before you find the faults of someone else.

Each person is on his/her own personal journey in their search for God. They may be struggling with their lives now. Or perhaps it will require 10 more years before they grasp their relationship with God. Either way, it is with God whom they are dealing with and we should not be on the sidelines making catcalls, comments or remarks, but minding our own journey. And much of the time, what we accuse people of, is exactly what our same problem is. A person who accuses someone else of lust, usually does so because they themselves have lust on their mind. Think about it.

Paul says, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” -Romans 14:4. And he goes on: “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” -Romans 14:10.

James also had his say: “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” – James 4:11-12.

Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” -John 7:24. Righteous judgment is different than judging. Righteous judgment is what Jesus instructed us to do among us, (Matthew 18:15-17) as did Paul (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) for the health of the church, but not towards non-believers. Righteous judgment involves discernment, wisdom, love and kindness. Much judging has NO love or kindness whatsoever, but rather arrogance and self-righteousness. Many Christians take these verses as cues to go hog-wild, jumping at every chance to sit up on the bench, passing judgments as they feel like, hiding under “righteous judgment.” There are far more people who judge un-righteously than those who use righteous judgment. And I believe righteous judgment is meant for the spiritually mature. But many Christians, regardless of spiritual maturity, make judging the favored church approved activity, surpassing helping, loving and forgiving. A favorite activity because it empowers a person to condemn anyone.

They even look to Jesus' statement in Matthew 7:5 saying, "If I take the log out of my eye, then I will be allowed to take the speck out of my neighbor's." But they fail to see that that sentence begins with "You hypocrite". Jesus is making a point to them, not giving them permission. If a person's eye is truly clear, he will see that it is righteous to NOT JUDGE but rather to LOVE.

"Righteous judgment" is a gift given to those servants of God who seek Him in truth, spirit and humbleness. To judge another person is to place oneself above them, but Jesus says, “…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” -Mark 10:43-44

And the thing about judging is…we all ENJOY doing it a little bit too much. In fact we just LOVE it. We relish bashing, gossiping and pointing at someone, declaring how evil they are. That should be the first sign to us that it is a sin to judge! But because we see our pastors, church members and religious men in high places engaging in it…then it must be OK. Right? WRONG! Judging is one of the most unspiritual things anyone can do to someone else.

The activity that Jesus does tell us to get into is loving our neighbors, loving our enemies, loving the unloved, forgiving each other, feeding the poor, visiting the sick and those in prison, to name a few.

Jesus commanded us to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and judging does not fit in anyway into this category. Jesus said to do those things that involve love for people, as opposed to judging which involves showing reasons why we should not love them.

And when we do judge, we need to remember what Jesus said, “…Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” -Matthew 25:40.

We all know we can’t judge someone on how they look, but how many of us still judge someone if they order a drink at a bar, use swear words, have a bad attitude or indulge in a sin? Believe it or not, many people who do such things believe in God and know they need to do better, but are not at that place in their life right now. We only encounter people for a few minutes, but do we really know what is in their hearts?

“…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

When Jesus says “Do not judge” He is saying that means NO ONE MAY DO IT. And especially NOT his followers.
And He gives the warning that the way you judge will be done to you as well and what we fail to understand is that our own judgment is what condemns us and the only way to be free of condemnation is to NOT JUDGE, which is what Jesus is trying to get us to do.

Trying not to judge is almost impossible because it goes against our very human nature, but it is a crucial aspect of following Christ that we need to change about ourselves. Correct judgment requires knowledge, something we don’t have. Only God has full knowledge of what lies in someone’s heart. He knows all the pain, sorrow and struggles of each person, He knows each person's habits, their way of thinking and why they think in those ways, and He understands, forgives and gives endless mercy to all of us.

And like the "Parable of the Unmerciful Servant", Matt 18:21-35, we accept mercy and forgiveness from the King but will not bestow it to each other. Somehow we are able to dismiss and rationalize our own sins, but continue to grab tight onto someone else's.

This is why Jesus told the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18: 10-14) and why He was against the Pharisees concerning the Adulteress woman (John 8:1-11).
The very Pharisees who should have been doing God’s work by leading God's people to Him, were instead judging all His people as unclean and sinful, making them outcasts. They judged incorrectly and Jesus accepted all of those unclean people onto Himself.

Jesus tell us NOT to judge people, (form an opinion, categorize, have bias to, condemn) but just to love them! Regardless of what we think about anyone, Jesus says we are to give love to them. These words of Jesus are powerful, radical and of a higher spiritual principle, harder to practice for even most pastors and ministers let alone ordinary folks. But, only with the help of the Holy Spirit can we learn to look at each person as a living, breathing human being and a child of God whom He dearly loves and for whom Jesus died to give eternal life.

 

© 2005 Edrick


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