Summary: Don't judge me! Who are you to judge me? Popular ideas in today's culture need biblical guidance. Let's look a bit at what this is all about and how God wants us to understand and act regarding judging others.
Jesus' words: do not judge, are perhaps the most popular words of our culture today.
How do you judge not? Particularly, how do you judge not as Jesus taught us? This command in the sermon on the mount is couched in front of another command that seems very much like a judgment call. Do not give what is holy to dogs and do not cast your pearls before pigs. How did you conclude that these were dogs or pigs unless you use some kind of judgment? Later Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets who come to us in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. How do we discover a false prophet without using some kind of judgment?
It is helpful to interpret scripture with other scripture to understand more fully what is meant by any given statement of the Bible. The word “judge” occurs some 80 times just in the New Testament of our Bibles so there is a rich resource of information about this idea for us to gather from and guide our understanding.
We will not look at all 80 passages and occurrences this morning. I hope that just a few will do to bring us into a better understanding of what Jesus means here. This will give us a clearer application as well.
Look at Luke 6:37-38 with me. This is a parallel passage where Jesus give us more information on the same topic.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus seems to say here that what we dole out is what we get back. That helps us understand that Jesus is consistent in application of the golden rule that we also find in this chapter. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus says that this is the law and the prophets.
Judge not, is here intended to apply that rule. How do you want to be treated by others? Judging is not an especially good way to apply the golden rule. And yet, in this same context, Jesus speaks of false prophets and warns us to beware of them.
We sometimes use a phrase that seems to carry Jesus meaning here: Don't write people off, or you will be written off. At least before you write someone off, be sure that the measure you use is one you'd be willing to be measured by.
Sometimes we must judge. Look at 1 Corinthians 5:12-6:6
These verses tell us that God has equipped us for judgment and we are to use it His way within the church. Yet we are not to judge the person who is not a Christian. He says that God will do that.
But we do need judges within the church to maintain order and help us deal with disputes that may arise among us. This is part of what our elders do for us.
Think about what Paul envisions here. What kind of relationships do we have as a church family? We are a community of faith that has spiritual government that we should be able to go to for sound decisions that keep the unity and order of the church in tact.
He says that if two fellow Christians have an issue they should take it to the leaders of the church to work it out.
Does that sound like the church to you? Do we see our relationship in the body of Christ in this way? I dare say most Christians today think of church as simply a worship assembly rather than a government in which they are fellow citizens and in which they submit to the authority of the leadership so that they would have the elders decide what we might consider legal cases.
But when God rescued Israel from Egypt he set up a government among them and even a court by which they could handle the cases that came up. If Paul's admonition to the Corinthians is applicable today, then we need to expand our understanding of the place of judgment and how God's people are to use it according to His will and way.
As a people we would not judge one another, but would go to the proper authorities within the church for judgment. So Jesus' words apply to the individual, and Paul's words apply to the government of the church.
God is the ultimate judge. And He has given all judgment unto the Son, Jesus Christ.
John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.