Every now and then I hear people say that we are not supposed to judge others. Most of them love to quote Matthew 7:1.
“Do not judge,
or you too will be judged”
This Scripture is usually presented after The Offending Party (judger) informs an individual or group of individuals that certain activities are sinful.
The Offended Party (judged) generally knows that the activity fits the biblical definition of sin. Seldom do they dispute the judgment; however, they reject the right of any person to make a judgment.
The demand not to judge isn’t just from some Bible readers; many non-believers hold this same belief.
Is it proper to judge another person or not?
~I shall attempt to answer this question both~
Logically & Theologically
Question: How do people form the idea that they are being judged? Answer: They make a judgment! Conclusion: It is impossible to accuse someone of judging without the accuser convicting himself of judging!
It is also impossible to live a normal rational life judgment free! Everyone makes judgments all the time. Without judging we would have the functionality of infants; therefore, we could not survive in our environment.
“We judge without thinking.”
We judge without thinking. We wait for the lights to change before crossing the street, because we judge that a car may hit us if we walk against the red light. We even wait to see if the driver of the approaching car is judging the stop light and acts accordingly.
“We teach our children”
We teach our children to never talk to strangers, because we haven’t had the opportunity to judge them and we do not trust our children’s judgment. We avoid people who appear threatening, because we believe that it is better to be safe than sorry. We judge the bathtub temperature, because we do not want the water too cold or too hot. As parents, we judge the folks our kids bring into our house irrespective of what our own children say about them. Judgments are necessary and vital for our very survival.
Let’s take another look at Matt 7:1 expanded to include verses 2-5:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “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? 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? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (NIV)
The warning is to judge correctly and not hypocritically. The person offering the judgment must make sure he or she is in a right position to make the judgment. There is absolutely no admonition not to judge wrong behavior; however, if our lives are unsound, we are in no position to tell others they are unsound.
For example, two men have been drinking buddies for years. Both men meet every evening around the same time and share a few beers. They generally drink enough to get slightly intoxicated, but not drunk. One man started drinking liquor in addition to the beer. The liquor caused him to act belligerent. His friend noticed the change and tried to address it, but the other man said, “You’re a drunk too!” Even though the drinking buddy knew his friend was getting out of control, he should have sober himself up first (removed the plank from his own eye) before trying to help his friend. Those opposed to judging may be surprised to discover that the BIBLE commands Christians to judge!
“Those opposed to judging may be surprised to discover that the BIBLE commands Christians to judge!”
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them (NIV)
How do we watch out for false prophets? How do we recognize wolves from sheep? Do people eat fruit before looking at it? Jesus clearing stated that we must judge those who claim to represent Him! How many of you would give your life savings to a man offering you a 30% return on your money? Have you ever received an email offering you 10 million dollars from some lady trying to escape Africa? All she needs is to wire the money into your account. Once you provide your personal identification, she will send the money. Would you accept the offer?
Would you accept the offer?
Christians are called to be salt and light: to defend the faith and to give God all the honor and glory. We must live a life worthy of our calling and thus be in a non-hypocritical position to judge if and when judgments are necessary. However, we must also be kind and respectful.
It is always better to tell people what they need to know instead of only telling them what they want to hear. If we truly love people, we will honor that love with truth that helps and heals; instead of a placebo that pacifies, and leaves the person no better off than they were before we engaged them.
Since I attempted to answer the question of judging
both logically and theologically,
I must ask ONE final question.
What is your judgment?