“Do not judge lest ye be judged” is possibly the most famous verse in bible among unbelievers. It is also among the most misapplied, misunderstood and misused verses, to the point that if you lovingly confront someone over wrongful behaviour, they will promptly quote this scripture back to you, judging you for judging them!
However, Jesus’ words at the beginning of chapter Matthew 7 are the beginning of a discussion on Judgment not the whole discussion. In fact, there is a kind of judgment that Jesus encourages in this very same chapter when he says in verse 6, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Jesus requires his followers to be discerning when it comes to people and you cannot do that without forming some sort of opinion about their character and conduct.
Instead, Jesus is forbidding the kind of Judgment that is undiscerning, hypocritical, presumptuous, hasty, careless, blinkered, self-righteous, harsh, characterised by fault-finding and finality, a judgment that acts without mercy and without Love. The idea here, is that you presume to know the condition of another person’s heart. You set yourself up as judge and jury and proclaim the guilt of those around you. This is the attitude that Jesus forbids.
The Consequences of a Judgmental Spirit.
1) You can do great damage to yourself:
The Jews of Jesus day had a great awareness of divine retribution, the proverbial saying was “the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
Perhaps the greatest example we have of someone condemming themself through hypocricy is given in the OT, where King David in condemning another man, invited condemnation on himself.
2) You can do great damage to your brother.
“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?
The eye is a profoundly delicate organ. If you are going to operate you had better know what you are doing! It requires great skill and precision, patience and care. The consequences of carelessness are very high, to cause blindness is no small thing, you can do significant damage.
3) You can do great damage to the Gospel
The No1 trending book in Waterstones just now is called Twelve rules for life by Jordon Peterson.” It has an interesting chapter called “Tidy your room before you criticize the world.” The idea is, if you want the world to take your ideas seriously and listen to you, then first learn how to manage your room. It’s no different for followers of Jesus. If we want the world to listen to the message we bear, then we must live out the commands of Jesus ourselves. The percieved credibility of our message is at stake.
The Cure for Judgmentalism
1) Know that your Sin was Judged
Every sinful flaw, every wicked thought, every evil deed, every slanderous word, every blind eye turned or pre-meditated assault against God’s law, met its judgment in the precious body of Jesus. How can you deal so harshly with your christian brother or sister? how can you hold their sins and faults against them? When God has not counted your sins against you. we simply must not.
2) Know you are being Judged
If you are judgmental you breed a culture of judgmentalism. The old saying rings true “For every finger you point there are three fingers pointing back at you”
3) Know you will be Judged
Put yourself in the Dock, know that at the end of your life you will give an account for the deeds done in the flesh. How would you like the judge to treat you. With what spirit would you like him to judge you?
- Have I tidied my own room before judging another brother or sister in Christ?
- Have I been unduly harsh in my criticism of another brother or sister and their ministry and walk before the Lord?
- Have in my judgments been condemning myself
- Have I been blind to the log that has been in my own eye?