About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Scripture Says About Judging
One of the things that really bothers me is
to hear Christians say that we should not judge others. There are a
couple of reasons for this unbiblical stance. One reason is that if
we judge others, they will judge us, and, we don't want to be judged.
This is actually more Biblical than one might think. The other
reason for this stance is Christians are so Biblically illiterate these
days that they don't know what the Bible really says about this issue. Another
reason for this misunderstanding is a bit hypocritical.
We judge in other matters in society but we don't want to judge in
personal matters. Our whole
legal system is based on judging.
I will briefly attempt to state the Biblical
position on this much misunderstood topic.
Jesus, in John 7:24 said, "Judge not
according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment". Jesus
is not telling us not to judge. He
is in fact telling us "how to judge". He
is simply saying that we should not 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 always having to be well dressed.
Rock stars are another example. 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 have. You
can't judge by the mere appearance.
Jesus' point is simple.
When you judge, judge righteously. Look
beyond the appearance. Put a
little thought into your judgment. Make
sure you have all the facts. Make
sure you are judging from proper motives.
Make sure you arenít trapped by the same thing you are judging
the other person for.
Jesus is not telling us not to judge in this
verse. He's telling us to
This passage is one of the most misused and
abused passages in the Bible, and it's all because we don't take the time
to see what Jesus is really saying. So,
let's take some time and look at what he is saying now.
Matthew 7:1 is the verse everyone quotes
when they say that we are not to judge. Jesus said, "Judge not that
you be not judged, for with what judgment you judge you shall be
judgedÖ" (KJV) What Jesus is saying here is how we judge others
will be the way they judge us in return.
If we're unfair in our judgment, others will be unfair to us by
returning an unfair judgment. It's
just human nature. It's just
Is Jesus really telling us not to judge in
this verse? The answer to this
question is seen in the following verses. We can't take Matthew 7:1 out of
context like most do. Jesus
goes on to tell 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 5 that you should "Ö first 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 telling us to examine ourselves before we examine others.
If we have the same problem that we're judging another for, we must
deal with our own problem before we deal with the same problem in someone
else. Once our problem is
fixed, Jesus says that we can help our brother with his problem.
Jesus isn't telling us not to judge in
Matthew 7. He's telling us
that if we have the same problem, we fix the problem in our lives.
Then, we are able to judge our brother and then help him out.
Once we have fixed the problem in our own lives, we can affectively
help our brother. This is all
a part of judging righteously as Jesus commanded us in John 7:24.
Jesus is not telling us not to judge in
Matthew 7:1. He's telling us a
couple of things. He's telling
us that how we judge others will be how they judge us.
He's basically telling us not to be hypocrites in our judging.
If we do not have the same problem in our lives, or, if we've fixed
that problem, then we can affectively help our brother in need.
We must understand that we cannot help a
brother unless we make a judgment call that he actually needs help.
Judging righteously is simply the first step in helping a brother
In Mathew 7:16 - 20 Jesus tells us that 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. This isn't rocket science.
You know what something is by looking at it and making a judgment
Someone who says that he doesnít believe
that Jesus is God is not a Christian. You
are making a righteous judgment by saying that. You
are making a judgment based on what you know to be true.
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. This
is assuming we're not committing the same sin.
If a person steels, we have the right to judge them and call them a
thief. Again, this is so if
we're not caught up in the same sin. This
judging 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. Jesus
tells us that we will know a person by his fruit. Stating
the simple facts about a person is judging righteously.
The Bible does not prohibit such judgment calls.
Many politicians of late have been called
out on the carpet for bad and wrong behaviour.
Mayer Rob Ford of
In 1 Corinthians 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.
If one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
enables us to judge beyond human ability, it's clear that judging is
In Acts 5 Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira,
but in Galatians 2 Peter was judged by Paul. Galatians
2:11 says that Paul opposed Peter to his face because he was in the wrong.
Many today would struggle over
such a judgment call, especially when Paul pointed this out in a public
forum. We might say that Paul
was too judgmental. He should
not have opposed Peter. He
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. He
judged Peter, and rebuked him openly. Was
Paul being nasty or mean? No
he wasn't. Was he upset with
Peter? He was probably more
than a little upset. Was he
right in his judgment? He
Paul was judging righteously here. His
motive for judging was pure. He
did not want anything or anyone to defame the gospel of the Lord who died
for him. He needed to expose
this wrong and to correct it for all to see. He
needed to do so for the sake of the gospel. 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.
It's clear to me that Jesus intends for 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
unfairly judged in return. If
we canít judge the right way, then we shouldnít judge. We
should keep our mouths shut. If
we can judge for right reasons, then go ahead and do so. There is nothing
wrong with right judging.
There are legitimate reasons for making a
right judgment. One reason is
to help a person in need as seen in Matthew 7.
Another reason is to expose sin and to make sure the sin doesn't
spread, as seen when Paul judged Peter.
God Himself gives some the supernatural gift of discernment, which
in reality is super natural judging.
Judging isn't the problem.
It's why and how we judge that is the problem.
This is the real meaning to Matthew 7:1.