Summary: The idea that Jesus forbade his followers to judge is a myth
“Christians Shouldn’t Judge”
Matthew 7:1-6; 15-20
Today is the last message in our series called Mythbusters. We have been focusing in on spiritual myths. These myths are based on false understandings of scripture and they always lead you down the wrong path. Today’s myth is: “”Christians Shouldn’t Judge.”
Do you want to hear a surefire way to get your non-Christian friends or coworkers all worked up and even have them quote the Bible to you? Here’s a method that will work almost every time: Use the “s” word. Call something a sin.
Calling something a sin can refer to a number of things. Speak out against a lifestyle the Bible speaks against. Critique the belief system of a cult or world religion. Criticize any behavior that isn’t universally condemned by our culture. Then just step back and wait. It won’t be long before someone who really doesn’t have much use for the Bible tries to quote Mt. 7:1 – “Don’t judge.” Ironically, the person who tries the quote will probably have no idea where to find the it in the Bible and has no idea that it’s quoted out of context.
You see, the idea that Jesus forbade his followers to judge is a myth. It’s another widely believed spiritual urban legend that can’t stand up to the actual words of Scripture. Jesus didn’t tell us that we should refuse to judge or fail to call sin, sin. Jesus made judgments on things and he asks us to do the same. There are costly spiritual consequences when we fail to do so, not only in the lives of those of us who refuse to judge, but also in the lives of those who never have their sins pointed out.
Take your Bibles and turn to Matthew 7. Once you get there, keep your Bibles open because we’ll refer back to this chapter several times during this morning’s message.
Let’s hear what Jesus has to say in Matt. 7:1-6 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “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? 5 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. 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 didn’t say, “Do not judge,” followed by a period or an exclamation point. He said, “Do not judge,” followed by a clarification of what type of judgments to make, when to make them, and how to make them. This Matthew 7 passage, when read in context, is not a prohibition against judging. It’s a stern warning against judging improperly.
In fact, immediately after saying, “Judge not,” Jesus goes on to tell us not to give sacred things to dogs or to throw our pearls before swine. That’s hard to do without making a few judgments concerning who is a “dog” and who is a “swine.”
The same principle is used a few verses later in Matt. 7:15-20 – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Here Jesus asks us to carefully inspect the spiritual fruit of anyone who claims to speak for God. He says that we need to evaluate what they say with how they live – rejecting those who bear bad fruit and listening to those who produce good fruit.
Tolerance and Truth
So, why do so many of us think that Jesus doesn’t want us to judge? There are a couple of reasons. One, as we’ve just seen, is a failure to understand Jesus’ words in context. The other is our natural tendency to interpret ancient words through the filter of our modern-day culture.
In our modern-day culture, one of the highest rated traits is something called tolerance. Tolerance has changed in definition over the years. Today, it has a three-part definition.