About Jesus Steve Sweetman
What Scripture Says About Judging
We often hear Christians say that we should not judge others. Often it is in the context of someone judging us and we donít want to hear what the other person has to say. Many times Christians feel bad after making a statement that is somewhat judgmental. They say that Jesus says not to judge, but did Jesus really say that? Lets look at some Scripture to see what Jesus and others really said.
Jesus, in John 7:24 (KJV) said, "judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment". Jesus is not telling us in this verse not to judge. He is telling us "how to judge". He is saying not to judge according to how things appear. It is true that things are not always as they appear to be. You may see an old man on the street dressed in faded jeans. This does not mean he is a poor beggar. He may be a rich man who is tired of wearing a suit all day. Look at many rock stars. They dress like slobs and wear their hair as if they have no money for a hair cut, yet they have more money than you or I will ever see.
Jesus is saying, when you judge, judge righteously. Look beyond the appearance. Put a little thought into your judgment. Make sure you are right. Make sure you are judging from proper motives and make sure you arenít trapped by the same thing you are judging the other person for.
Judge Not Ė Matt. 7:1
Mathew 7:1 is the verse everyone quotes when they say that we are not to judge. What does that verse say? "Judge not that you be not judged, for with what judgment you judge you shall be judgedÖ" (KJV) What Jesus is saying here is, donít judge, for in the same way you judge others you will be judged yourself. If we judge others, then others have the right to judge us back. It is a two way street.
Is Jesus really telling us not to judge in this verse? In the verses to follow Jesus tells us not to try to cast a speck out of your brotherís eye when you have a plank in your own eye (NIV). He goes on to say in verse five (NIV) "Öfirst take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brotherís eye."
Do you see what Jesus is saying here? He is saying, look at yourself before you judge another. If you have the same problem, or worse, fix it before you try to fix the other personís problem. Once your problem is fixed, Jesus says that we can help our brother with his problem.
Simply put, what Jesus is saying in Mat. 7 is not to judge another if you have the same problem, because if you do they have the right to judge you as well. If you do not have the problem then you can judge, taking into consideration what He said in John 7:24. Our judging must be for constructive purposes. Simply judging others to be nasty, or to get even is not righteous judgment. Judging for the purpose of helping another is righteous judging. This kind of judging is not forbidden in Scripture.
By Their Fruit You Will Know Them
In Mat. 7:16 and 20 Jesus said, "by their fruit you will recognize them". (NIV) You can tell a tree is an apple tree by seeing its apples. You can tell that a maple tree is a maple tree by its leaves. You see something about the tree and as a result you know what kind of a tree it is. You are making a judgment.
Someone who says that they donít believe that Jesus is God is not a Christian. You are making a righteous statement by saying that. You are making a judgment based on what you know of the person. There is nothing wrong with this kind of judgment.
If a person is in an adulterous relationship we have the right to judge them and say that they are an adulterer. If a person steels, we have the right to judge them and call them a thief. This is judging that is based on fact. It is not based on appearance alone.
Just as an apple tree bares apples, so Christians will bare fruit of the Spirit. We will know them by their fruit. This is a judgment call, and there is nothing wrong with that.
The Gift Of Discernment
In 1 Cor. 12 we see Paul listing nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of these gifts is called the gift of discernment. What is this gift? It is a supernatural gift given by the Holy Spirit that enables you to discern from good and evil, right and wrong. It is a supernatural gift that enables you to discern something that you could not otherwise discern. Discerning is a type of judgment.
Peter in Acts 5 discerned, most likely supernaturally, that Ananias and Sapphira were not being truthful to him when they told him that they sold a field and gave all the money to the church. Peter discerned that this was a lie. In fact Peter was judging them. We might ask, did Peter have the right to make such a judgment? Well, whatever the answer, he judged them anyway.
Paul Judged Peter
In Acts 5 Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira, but in Gal. 2 Peter was judged by Paul. Gal. 2:11 says that Paul opposed Peter to his face because he was in the wrong. Many today would struggle over such a thing. We might say that Paul was too judgmental. He should not have opposed Peter, should not have judged him. Paul noted that Peter ate with the Gentile Christians, but when the Jewish Christians came to town, he withdrew himself from the Gentiles. This infuriated Paul. This was hypocrisy in Paulís eyes. So Paul judged the situation, judged Peter, and rebuked him opening. Was Paul being nasty or mean? No. Was he upset with Peter? He was probably more than a little upset. Was he right in his judgment. He certainly was.
Paul was judging righteously here. His motive for judging was to expose a wrong and to correct it for all to see. Others were beginning to follow Peter in his hypocrisy and Paul could not let this happen. He had to remedy the situation and he did so swiftly and to the point, without beating around the bush.
This is just one example of how Paul judged people. There are many other examples as well.
We see that Jesus warns us to judge righteously. If we donít judge the right way, then we should not judge at all. If we judge the wrong way, with improper motives, then we can expect to be judged back. If we canít judge the right way, then donít judge at all. If we can judge for right reasons, then go ahead and do so. There is nothing wrong with right judging.