Summary: “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” This is one of the most widely misused verses quoted among non-Christians and Christians alike. Passing judgment has a completely negative connotation to it. But there is such a big misunderstanding about this subject that
TO JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE; THAT IS THE QUESTION
INTRODUCTION: “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” This is one of the most widely misused verses quoted among non-Christians and Christians alike. It’s like our trump card. Whenever we hear someone addressing a sin in our life we want to throw Matt. 7:1 at them. “There; that’ll shut you up.” Passing judgment has a completely negative connotation to it. But there is such a big misunderstanding about this subject that it warrants taking a deeper look into it so we can correctly understand it.
1) How do we judge incorrectly? What kind of judging would Jesus look down on?
• Stereotypical judging. You’ve heard it before: ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Well, it’s true, yet we all do it. A schoolteacher decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon a water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. No one seemed interested in helping. Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, “Please God, send me an angel, preferably one with mechanical experience.” Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. He jumped off and went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump. The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumfounded to talk. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, “Thanks so much.” Noticing her surprise, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared. 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. Whether it’s a situation or a person we assume certain things that are often not true. We judge a person by how they look, what they have or by what they do.
• Hypocritical judging. Rom. 2:1-4. Now it’s important to define the word "judge". "Judge" is a legal word that means "to judge a person to be guilty and liable to punishment". As Paul’s using this word here, he’s talking about setting ourselves up as a judge over another person. Paul’s talking about an arrogant, hypercritical attitude that makes ourselves out to be better than the person we’re judging. “Back in the mid 1980s when the TV evangelist Jim Bakker was exposed for sexual sin and fraud, Ted Koppel on Nightline interviewed fellow TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggert. Swaggert was asked to give his opinion about Jim Bakker and Swaggert came off as very judgmental. In fact, he called Bakker a cancer to the Christian community. Then just a short while later Swaggert 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 hypocritically judging I’m forgetting my sin and highlighting yours. I’m attacking you and through my pride I am 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. I can highlight your imperfections for my personal gain. Bible teacher John Stott says, "Paul uncovers in these verses a strangely human foible, namely our tendency to be critical of everybody except ourselves. We are often as harsh in judgment of others as we are lenient toward ourselves…This device enables us simultaneously to retain our sins and our self-respect". Having a hypocritical spirit blinds us to our own faults. It allows us to justify our faults. Other people lose their temper but we have righteous indignation. Other people are jerks but we’re just having a bad day. Other people have a critical spirit, but we simply tell it like it is. Other people are pushy, but we’re goal oriented. We qualify and justify our own actions but we jump all over someone else’s. Hypocritical judging see’s the actions of others in a completely different light than our own. In hypocritical judging, we judge others by a different standard than what we set for ourselves. We fall into the trap of self-righteousness and judge accordingly. This is the make-up of hypocritical judging.