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Really, judge not?

August 8, 2007

I have to keep coming back to this topic because it wearies me how Christians who should understand the Biblical principle here more often muddle the point with wrongly placed emotion. I stand guilty as charged. When I have invested time and energy into an activity or choice that I believe is right or good or worthwhile and someone implies, hints or suggests that said activity is not–whew wee! I can jump on the wagon of “Judge me not!” just as quickly.

However, one of the most significant confrontations in my life was during college when an avowed pagan wrote out a list of Scripture alongside key examples of my life listed as the illustrations of disobedience and hypocrisy. To underline my sham faith, she then posted the list on my apartment door.

It was the sweetest thing she ever did for me–to completely expose me as a fraud fire-insurance Christian. I loved the idea of loving Jesus, but not enough to completely obey, read, or study His Word; not enough to offer my body as a living sacrifice, to serve His will, to discipline my tongue, or to carry my cross. I wanted Jesus to accept me as I was and not change a thing–other than to make my life better, easier and happier.

After sobbing my eyes out at how “unjust” “judgmental” “unfair” all of this was to poor, woeful me, God snapped my head into place as I read through that list over and over again. Initially infuriated at her audacity to use Scripture to convict me and judge my actions, I set out to look every one up and see how I could retaliate. I ended up impressed at her knowledge of Scripture that was more properly applied to my life then I was applying Scripture to my life.

Pride does indeed go before a fall, and God does truly show grace to the humble, but opposes the proud. Now thoroughly humbled before Him, He used the same convicting Word of Truth to restore me to right obedience and true salvation. I called on His name for salvation through faith given by His grace and no longer dependent upon my works.

Which brings me back to the topic, really, judge not? The verse of course, is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, lest you be judged.” I have truly been helped in my understanding by J.C. Ryle’s words:

When our Lord says, “Judge not,” He does not mean that it is wrong, under any circumstances, to pass an unfavourable judgment on the conduct and opinions of others. We ought to have decided opinions: we are to “prove all things;” we are to “try the spirits.” (1 Thess 5:21; 1 Jn 6: 1)–Nor yet does He mean that it is wrong to reprove the sins and faults of others until we are perfect and faultless ourselves. Such an interpretation would contradict other parts of Scripture: it would make it impossible to condemn error and false doctrine; it would debar any one from attempting the office of a minister or a judge. The earth would be “given into the hands of the wicked” (Job 9:24): heresy would flourish: wrong-doing would abound.

And I do believe that much of the heresy and wrong-doing currently abounding in the churches and amongst professing Christians is because Christians having been given the truths of Scripture, figured in the Person of Jesus Christ, to convict and restore sinners have abdicated the proper and rightful judgment of heresy and wrong-doing. That each one would first rightly apply Scripture to herself for conviction and restoration by the Holy Spirit, then from that godly evaluation would come the good fruits of wisdom and discernment towards others in the Body.

It is not a statement of “Judge not,” it is an instruction to rightly and humbly judge well.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2007 7:36 am

    There is a young girl at our church who has, for the past two years, been perpetuating strife, angst and misery because of her compulsive lying. No one would bring her to account. When she was away at a camp serving the Lord, she was confronted with one of her lies, and sent home immediately. She is so shell-shocked because no one has ever called her to account. The sad thing is, she doesn’t understand what she did wrong, and neigher do her parents. Everyone was afraid of saying anything to her. She’s my daughter’s friend, and we never said anything to her. We should have. Now, our neglect has contributed to where she is. We’re all so afraid to “offend” but not afraid to let a fellow sister hang herself.

    Very good post today.

  2. August 8, 2007 8:34 am

    It is easier in my opinion to be convicted of my sin by the Holy Spirit instead of another in the flesh believer but that is because of my pride issue. You have brought up the “rub” about confrontation with the “judge not” verse and handled it well. When we aren’t ready to hear about our sin, or accept the fact that we are living in sin, the first thing we’ll do is pull out the “judge not” card. The fact that someone will not listen does not relieve us of our responsibility to go to them in love and point out the error. Hopefully we’ve prayed long and hard in preparation to go, so that we have the right attitude. Anyway thanks for a good explanation especially the fact that we aren’t perfect people pointing out error.

  3. August 8, 2007 12:28 pm

    Excellent post. How wonderful that what was probably meant to be hurtful God used to open your eyes. Due to some things going on in our church, this was a good thing for me to read today. Thank you.

  4. August 8, 2007 5:41 pm

    A former pastor of mine called it “the heresy of nice.” We would all rather be nice and not offend anybody than be loving and offensive.

  5. August 8, 2007 10:01 pm

    I have heard from friends who are bilingual (German, Spanish, etc.) that the English language is terribly limited. In their Bibles in other languages, sometimes verses say judge (as in say it’s right or wrong), sometimes condemn (as in pass judgement). Indeed, we have to be careful with these verses.
    Good post.

  6. August 9, 2007 5:46 am

    I am afraid that the “church” has unknowingly accepted the “world’s” definition of love, which by the way is unbiblical. For example:

    “We are going to just loooove so and so, no matter what they do, by turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to their sins. What? Confront them in love? That is not loving, it is judging. And we all know the Bible says, “judge not.”

    Do any of you know churches that actually practice church discipline as commanded in the Scriptures? Is this judging?

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