“I think I’ll just say I don’t agree with judging fellow human beings like this and leave it that!”
This was the response from one of my readers regarding a recent post on America’s Abortion Culture.
After replying to her objections, she did respond again saying, “ I don’t think Jesus (as far as I remember from childhood teaching) ever tried to change things by judging others. Compassion might change things. Helping people overcome bad circumstances might change things. But not judgment.”
The accusation of “judging others” is very common reaction when we write about certain sins such as abortion, homosexuality, or fornication.
Our word of the week is “judge.”
Is it wrong to judge? What does the Bible say?
Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This verse is one of the most misunderstood in the Bible. It is often quoted to “prove” that any condemnation of sin is wrong and violates Jesus warning of judging! However, further reading this context will help us understand Jesus’ real point.
“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Meaning of “Judge”
Dr. W. E. Vine, in his Exposition Dictionary of New Testament words, says the word “judge” means “Primarily denotes to separate, to select, to choose, hence to determine, and so, to judge or to pronounce judgment.”
Bible scholar Albert Barnes exegesis is accurate when he writes, “This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. (Rom 2:1) Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our “forming an opinion” of the conduct of others, for it is impossible “not” to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil.”
Jesus uses a humorous illustration of someone who has a log in their eye trying to remove a shaving from someone else’s eye! Ridiculous! Absurd! And wrong! First remove the glaring fault from your life before you try to correct others for their minor flaws.
However, the word is used in some others ways in the Bible. Consider these three.
1. Jesus said, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24). The Gospel reveals God’s standard of righteousness (Rom. 16:16-17). When I take the gospel and apply it to a situation or moral issue, I am doing what Jesus approved, but not violating Matthew 7:1.
Jesus judged others. He called the Pharisees “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “snakes” and “whitewashed tombs!” (Matt 23:13-36) But He judged “righteous judgment.”
2. When brethren took their legal problems before pagan judges, Paul rebuked them. He asked, “Is there not a wise man among you…that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Cor 6:5). Paul actually admonished the brethren to intercede and render proper judgment. That kind of judgment is helpful.
3. Regarding the sexually immoral man at Corinth, Paul said, “I have judged him” (1 Cor 5:3). This was not a violation of the Mountain Message, but a proper application of John 7:24. When moral righteousness is ignored, preachers should apply God’s Word and condemn sin.
Jesus said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
Let us not be guilty of judging others in a harsh, hypercritical or hypocritical way. However, may we not be deterred from properly applying God’s Word in our corrupt culture. We are well within Scriptural bounds to “judge righteous judgment” to determine issues of morality. Ethics. And doctrine.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman