What you know about yourself is less than what others know about you. But what God knows about us is more important than what others think about us.
The call to differentiate good from evil is to judge, to discern, correctly.
In 2007 a book was published called UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity. It’s based on research done among non-Christian 20-somethings. One of their core findings was that nearly nine out of ten young people view Christians as “judgmental.” And given the prohibition against judging issued by Jesus, this would mean most people view Christians as hypocrites.
Given these findings, it’s pretty important that both Christians and non-Christians understand what Jesus means when he says “judge not.” The key is recognizing that the word judge can be used in two different ways in the New Testament. Sometimes the judge is used to mean “judge between things,” to differentiate or discern. In this case, we judge between right and wrong, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous.
But this kind of judging the act of discernment-is not what Jesus is forbidding. In fact, throughout the Bible, we are commanded to discern. In Luke 6 we can see the famous “judge not” statement, Jesus talks about having the discernment to see the difference between good people and evil people (Luke 6:43-45). He compares them to trees. Good trees, he says, produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit. The call to differentiate good from evil is to judge, to discern, correctly.
A long time ago, I decided not to judge others with their outward expressions or what they say or do. Sometimes we feel bad & burn inside our heart but stay calm & pray for them. We may not be perfect or we have lots of shortcomings but as a human being, we must refrain from hurting others and focus on what we can do for the Lord.
It is very easy to be confused when you hear that Christians are to “judge not” but also to discern and judge what is the truth. Jesus tells us to look at our own sin before judging someone else. The Bible tells us we are to confront others sin with truth and love in respect.
I was meditating upon following Bible verses for more specific truths when it comes to the Christian life and what it means to not judge.
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
The passage is actually a condemnation of hypocrisy, not judgment. Jesus’ counsel is to tend to our own behaviour and attitudes before attempting to help anyone else. If we attempt to judge before doing so, our judgment will be flawed by our own “splinters.” But the passage is in no way forbidding judgment. On the contrary, it asserts that judgment, like charity, begins at home.
Jesus warns of the human tendency to judge based on our own faults and flaws. This warning is one that should be considered before any assumption about another’s behaviour or intentions. Instead, the passage asserts that we should always examine ourselves first to see if the splinter we see is actually affixed to our own eye—and only if our eye is clean can we trust our judgment enough to begin the process of helping remove the offence from anyone else. This is an incredibly important point, both emphasizing the importance of good judgment and the steps necessary to acquire it.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole travelling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbour.
A common reduction we often hear is, “Don’t judge me.” What’s interesting is that this reduction is the inverse application of Jesus’s lesson. Jesus is not telling others not to judge us; he’s telling us not to judge others. What others do is not our primary concern; what we do is our primary concern. Our biggest problem is not how others judge us, but how we judge others.
I am reminded of the circumstance where two men were in a fight and one bit off a portion of the other’s ear. When the case came to trial, the attorney for the accused asked a witness: “Did you see Mr. Jones bite off Mr. Smith’s ear?” “No,” the witness responded. The lawyer might well have stopped at that point with: “No further questions.” But he just had to ask one question more. “How, then, do you know that Jones bit off Smith’s ear?” “I saw him spit it out!”
Paul taught that there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). That included himself. He sometimes found himself doing wrong (Romans 7:15). He had to fight to keep himself under the Lord’s control (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). He knew that so long as he remained in the flesh he would never achieve a permanent plateau of perfection (Philippians 3:12).
On the other hand, the apostle did not hesitate to “judge” a brother who was living in open, impenitent sin (1 Corinthians 5:3), and he rebuked those who tolerated such (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Paul had learned the Master’s true that while we are not to judge according to appearances, we are obligated to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Paul thus withdrew his fellowship from blasphemers like Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:19-20), and again, exposed Hymanaeus and Philetus when they taught that the resurrection had occurred already (2 Timothy 2:17-18). Nor did he hesitate to openly mention that Demas fell in love with the world and forsook him (2 Timothy 4:10).
It is obvious, therefore, that one does not have to be “without sin” before he can call attention to the grievous error that wicked men practice on a sustained basis.
We are quick to take tweezers to someone else’s eye while we need a forklift for our own. Let our goal in confronting a Christian caught in sin is to gain back our brother or sister. If you try to put someone down by doing that clearly explains you are wrong.
The true Christian is never to judge, never condemn, never exclude, never to see anyone as without value or dignity-even the person we disagree with most. To quote Greg Boyd again, “The Christian’s job is to agree with God that every person you meet was worth Jesus dying for.” We cannot ascribe that kind of value and dignity to a person and condemn them as worthless at the same time. It’s just not possible.