A friend recently posted to Facebook that she was unhappy with some who suggest that gay church leaders are living right. Within about an hour someone rebuked her saying “…you have no right to decide what he does and does not see as ‘living correct’. You are in no place to judge.” As of this writing, everyone else has encouraged my friend and supported her comments but this is not the first time I have seen people condemn judging. Let’s examine the rebuke above and we will see the flawed logic and imprecise reasoning.
Here is the passage that is often misunderstood:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log 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 brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
Is Judging Wrong?
Judging is not wrong. There is not a verse in Scripture that condemns judging others including those above. Quite the contrary, Christians must judge if they are to carry out the Lord’s commands.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).
“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20).
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15).
Is it not also true that to comply with the Great Commission we must judge?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-19).
How would it be possible to know who to teach if we did not make a judgement about their present condition?
It is not judging that is wrong; it is the way we judge that may be improper (whoops, did I just judge about judging?).
How We Judge
If we read past t he first 7 or 8 words of Jesus’ teaching we will see that he is speaking of the nature of our judgments. When we judge we must know that we will judge with a similar harshness or gentleness as we have portrayed toward others. In reality, this is just an application of the Golden Rule found a few verses down the page.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
We are to judge others according to the Golden Rule. Treat others like you would want to be treated yourself. Since you will be judged, how do you want to be judged?
- Honestly – with true facts, not suppositions or assumptions.
- Fairly – with all the facts taken in their proper context.
- Lovingly – with a desire to help me, not destroy me.
We could add more to the list easily but you get the point. These things we desire should be freely given to the person we are called to judge.
We must not overlook the later parts of the Matthew passage. Here Jesus warns of dangerous judgments with blurry vision. Everyone brings their own shortcomings and failures to the table. It is certain that as sinful people we will sometimes be biased or prejudiced in those judgments. But before judging, let us remove sin from our own lives. An awareness of our own spiritual frailty will go far in preventing false judgments.
For what it may be worth, my Facebook friend was fully on point in her judgment.
You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.
Photo Credit: Chris Potter at Wikipedia Commons