Summary: Working through a difficult passage of scripture on judging others. What did Jesus mean? If it is okay to judge others, what are the tools we need to use to make fair assessments? And, do we judge Christians any differently than non-Christians?
JUDGE NOT, LEAST YE BE JUDGED! (loudly – Like old time Preacher). That sure sounds good from the pulpit, doesn't it? But really. Can we just put an exclamation point after it, chisel it in stone and make it a commandment?
One of the top five questions I’ve been asked over the years by Christians and non-Christians alike is this one. “Aren’t Christians supposed to NOT judge others?” Sometimes they’re angry and accusing and sometimes they sincerely want to know. Sometimes they’ve remembered something about not pointing out the speck in another’s eye when you have a log in your own. It’s a great question but a difficult one to quickly address because the official biblical answer is “Yes and No”.
Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 "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? 5 "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. 6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
At first glance VERSE 6 seems out of context here. But it definitely doesn’t fit into the context of what follows in verse seven. And when we look at VERSE 6 more closely, I think we’ll find that it does fit in with the earlier verses on judging others.
We’ll refine this as we go along but the short and quick answer is this: Of course we are supposed to judge others. Judgement is the concept of determining between right and wrong behavior in another person. The word used by Jesus in the Greek is KRINOS meaning simply to decide or determine. So right off we see that we are unable to just lift this verse out of scripture. Obviously Jesus is not saying that Christians should not make decisions or determinations.
The dictionary definition of judgement is this: The evaluation of what is evident in order to make a decision and the secular dictionary uses the words “wisdom” and “discernment” in describing how one should make a quality judgement. Wisdom and discernment are words used to describe Christian qualities and Holy Spirit given gifts. So both the secular worldview and the Christian worldview are tracking together on what we need to have to make good sound judgements. We need wisdom and discernment.
If we were really able to suspend all judgement and become so neutral in our thinking that we no longer made any determinations about things and other people, our life would become unviable, dangerous, and unsustainable. Good judgement of behavior and character must be applied to ourselves and with everyone we come into contact with. We apply good judgement in how we live our life, what we watch on tv, where we are employed, what church we attend and most especially we need to apply good judgement with other people.