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Judge Not

I read the statement “judge not” this week, not in my daily Bible reading but in a conversation on Facebook. Someone posted the question “What exactly constitutes judging someone and is it judging to simply quote scripture?” The answers that came surprised me a lot. Many sounded like even asking that question was judgmental. Others were less militant about it but it did remind me that the world hates it when sin is exposed. No one likes to have their sins pointed out. This fact proves one thing to me-men do not equate sin with the destruction and death that Father God does. They simply want to do what their flesh desires without anyone questioning it.

The passage that everyone seems to know is Matthew 7:1. If you ask them they don’t know anything else about the Bible but they can always throw this out to you if you question something that they are doing. When people quote this verse it tells me two things about them. First- they know what they are doing is wrong-thus the defense and second, they don’t know what the rest of that chapter (or the Bible for that matter) says. People are misquoting that passage if they think it means that no one should ever tell someone that what they are doing is wrong. Let’s look at Matthew chapter seven today and see if we can understand what Jesus was speaking of.

If you read this entire passage from verses one through five will you find that Jesus did not speak of not judging altogether but He was warning us of being hypocrites and doing the same thing (or worse) that we were speaking out against someone else. As a preacher I occasionally get someone who tries to corner me when I make statements about sin. I have had emails condemning me because they thought they had caught me in doing the same thing I was speaking out against. A simple answer always proved that they were wrong. I make sure that my life is above reproach so that this doesn’t happen. If it does happen that I speak out against sin some time and am caught doing the same I do deserve having my sin brought out. Christians who are living for their Lord should be willing to be corrected.

In verses three through five Jesus used an illustration of someone trying to get a speck out of someone’s eye while they themselves have an entire beam (like a large timber) in their own! He then said to get the beam out of your own eye so that you could get the speck out of others’. If He were speaking against judging and bringing someone’s sin up He would not have used this illustration. Let’s look at John 7:24 for further proof that this was His meaning. In this verse Jesus said to “judge righteous judgment”. Here He is actually telling the Jews to make a judgment or ruling on something (His works on the Sabbath) but is saying to do it righteously.

We began going through the Book of Romans this week in our mid-week Bible study and in chapter two there is a similar passage from Paul. He said that when we judge people we are judged ourselves because we do the same sins. Notice that in verse one it gives the statement and the reason in the same verse. Logic would say that if Jesus is saying this same thing it would make sense that you could get the beam out of your eye and then help your neighbor get the speck out of his. In other words-Jesus wasn’t saying to not judge altogether but to make sure that your life is above reproach so that you could clearly see to help someone else. If you have truly been born-again you know how your life was radically changed. You had sin that He exposed through the scripture and then you corrected it. It should have been a humbling experience in that you were forgiven and washed clean of a great debt. All of us need to remember the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt 18:21-35). Anyone who was forgiven of sin should have a heart of mercy towards their fellow man.

Now, the reason people quote this verse is that they don’t want to have their faults brought up. As a Christians you are actually told to make judgments in your life about situations and about people. We are also given the standards to do so. For example, Jesus told us how to tell if someone was a true Disciple of Christ (John 13:35). He said that we will know them by their love for one another. In 2nd Corinthians 6:14 Paul said that we are not to be connected together (yoked) with non-believers. Ask yourself this: how will you know who is a non-believer if you don’t make a judgment first? In 1st John 4:1 John writes that we must test the spirits to see who is of God. In Ephesians 5:11 we are told to have no fellowship with unrighteous works. Romans 16:17 says to avoid those who cause divisions in the Church. Second Thessalonians 3:6 says to withdraw from any brother who does not walk according to the Word of God. Paul stated that we are to judge matters in the Church among Brothers in Christ over letting it go to a court of law (1 Cor. 6:1-7).

You see, we have to make judgments as Christians. The devil wants to intimidate us into never speaking out against sin. Many had rather just keep their mouths shut as they have been shut down by pointing out faults in someone’s life who pointed back to them and their own larger faults. It would actually be easier to just keep our mouths shut most of the time and let people do whatever they are going to do. But, we do not have the option of using that excuse. Look at chapter three in the Book of Ezekiel. In verses seventeen through twenty-one God told the prophet that he had to tell people when judgment was coming for them. God said that if Ezekiel didn’t tell them their blood would be on his hands. We have an obligation to point people in the right direction but of course, we must do it in love.

I haven’t always spoken out of love. I can now see that as a young Christian I was judgmental against people. I quickly wrote them off as beyond reach and cut them out of my life. I believed I was doing the right thing. When my own sins caught up with me (Num. 32:23) I was ashamed and made a pendulum swing on my actions. I just kept my mouth shut and never said anything to anyone. Both attitudes are wrong, friends. The devil loves it when we do either one. If we keep silent he wins. If we are overly critical and unmerciful he wins because nothing we say will be heard. But, if we live a life of holiness focused on God and ever growing in Him we can gently shed light on things so that those who are in sin might be able to see.

Have you ever visited a doctor that you didn’t like? Also, consider one that you did like. What makes the difference? We generally like doctors who are patient and compassionate with us. We appreciate them being merciful and speaking to us as a friend and not as one who is smarter than we are. When they are compassionate we can accept bad news from them easier than if they are cold and inhuman. We could learn a lesson from doctors. When we have a sickness or disease we will feel like they are hypocrites if they scold us about our health while smoking a cigarette and are fifty pounds overweight. It doesn’t matter if what they say is absolute truth, we won’t accept it if they don’t believe it enough to live by it. On the other hand if they are compassionate and point out that we would feel better by quitting cigarettes and if they give testimony of how they changed their life style we are more likely to follow their advice. It’s all about attitude and how we present the truth, isn’t it?

The Holy Spirit is a Gentleman and never embarrassed anyone into coming to Christ. He still speaks with a still soft voice and that is the voice we need to use when we talk to someone about the Lord. I have learned that no one receives the Gospel in a crowd of their peers. As long as you are putting them on the spot there is a wall of protection up that you will never penetrate. The enemy may still cause them to be defensive but you cannot let that intimidate you into never talking about sin again. Love your enemy and do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27). Remember where you came from and judge righteous judgment.

 

Prayer-Father, when then enemy tries to keep us silent by misquoting scripture remind us of what Your Word really says. Help us to have an attitude of mercy towards sinners. When we see someone walking astray give us the words to gently correct them. If they do not receive us help us to be patient with them just as You are patient with us. Forgive us of our sin and help us walk a path that is straight and true.

In Jesus’ Name-Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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