Summary: Today I'll be dealing with one of the most misused verses in the bible. Whenever someone addresses a sin in our life we pull out our trump card, Matt. 7:1, “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” Let's take a look into this passage so we can understand what Jesus meant.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (part 18)
Today I'll be dealing with one of the most misused verses quoted among non-Christians and Christians alike. Whenever someone addresses a sin in our life we pull out our trump card, Matt. 7:1, “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” There's such a big misunderstanding about this that it warrants taking a deeper look so we can correctly understand what Jesus means.
1) That whole "judge not" thing.
Matt. 7:1-2, "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."
There's an expression that I've heard people use: 'only God can judge me'. I saw a pic of a woman who had that tattooed across her upper chest. 2Pac had a song with that title. I read some of the lyrics. There's a line that goes, 'only God can judge me; f*** everyone else'. Unfortunately, many people live by this not-so-golden rule.
The irony is, if you really allowed God to judge your thoughts, words and actions, you would come to see that it's wise to listen to correction. But it's obvious that a lot of people look at judging in a very negative way. And while it can be done in a very negative way, it's not altogether true that if I judge, I'm either hating on you or I think I'm better than you.
While it's true that only God is our judge as far as salvation and condemnation goes, and that we have no business rendering judgment in that regard, that doesn't mean judgment is off the table in every other fashion. People make judgments about things every day; based on how we see things. We judge situations and decide what we're going to do or not do.
Making judgments is part of life. We have set up our court system to have a judge and jury to determine one's guilt or innocence. And, as there have been times when an incorrect judgment has been rendered, there are times when our judgment has not been correct.
The question is, by what criteria are we making judgments? Are we looking at the facts or just stating our opinions? Am I being rational or am I being driven by my emotions? Is it done for the purpose of correcting or just criticizing?
There is a right way and a wrong way to judge. That's what Jesus is getting at here in this passage. Be careful how you go about passing judgment because the way you do it will be brought upon you; whether by your peers or by the Lord himself.
What are some wrong ways to go about it? One way would be stereotypical judging. You’ve heard the phrase, 'don’t judge a book by its cover’. We have to admit, we often make the mistake of judging by outward appearances. When God chose Samuel to pick a replacement for King Saul he sent him to Jesse’s house. When Samuel thought he saw the obvious choice God corrected his thinking.
1st Samuel 16:6-7, "When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD'S anointed stands here before the LORD.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Whether it’s a situation or a person we can make assumptions based on how things look. It's not right to judge a person by how they look, what they have or what they do. It's not good to judge someone based on their race or culture. Stereotypical judging is wrong. Another way we can judge incorrectly is when we're being hypocritical.
Rom. 2:1-3, "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?"
Back in the mid 1980s when the TV evangelist Jim Bakker was exposed for sexual sin and fraud, Ted Koppel interviewed fellow TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggert. Swaggert was asked to give his opinion about Bakker and he came off as very judgmental. In fact, he called Bakker a cancer to the Christian community. Just a short time later, Swaggert himself was exposed as being guilty of some of the same kinds of sins.
There’s nothing wrong with calling sin a sin but when I’m judging hypocritically I’m forgetting my sin and highlighting yours. I’m attacking you and in my pride I'm setting myself up as better than you. Sometimes our motive in judgment is to boost our esteem. If I can judge you then I can feel better about myself.