We have been discussing judgment.
First, specifically how are Christians to judge (or not judge) non-Christians.
The most commonly quoted scripture on the matter is Matthew 7:1-2
1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matt 7:1-2 (NIV)
This is a favorite of people who feel they are being judged. Christian or non-Christian. What does it mean to “Judge” someone. Here are some of the meanings the word can have:
1. To make a legal decision
to act as the judge of a legal case
2. To assess
to assess the quality of something or estimate probabilities
• Each proposal has to be judged on its own merits.
3. To form an opinion
to form an opinion of somebody or something, especially after thought or consideration
• She was judged to have the best qualifications.
to measure by guesswork, using the eye or some other sense as a rough guide.
• You can't always judge people's ages by their voices.
5. To condemn someone
• God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.
But what does this mean in this passage? Does it mean that we are to just be oblivious to the world and not consider anything anyone does? I think not.
The word has many meanings. The strongest meaning is to damn someone as in # 5 above. Obviously this is not something we have the authority to do and probably a good thing too. We would all end up damning each other and there would be no one left!
We are definitely being told not to judge, but which one? All of them? Well, which ones do we want used on us? We are told:
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged”.
Personally, I invite judgment as defined in #3 above. I look to my friends to point out my shortcomings. But we are specifically looking at how Christians are to judge non-Christians here.
Lets look at the rest of the passage. In verses 3-5 we are told:
3 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Matt 7:3-5 (NIV)
It looks like we better be looking at ourselves first. Hypocrisy negates anything valid or valuable we might bring to the situation. Additionally, to be harsh in judging others, even if it is not found to be hypocritical, is not scriptural. Jesus answered the Pharisees when they judged His disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath:
7 If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.
Matt 12:7 (NIV)
To the person that feels like they are being judged, there is a sigh of relief and they might think “There, I told you so. Don’t you judge me!” But their not out of the woods yet.
So right after telling us not to judge, then telling us not to be hypocrites and look at our own lives first, Jesus turns around and tells us this:
6 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
Matt 7:6 (NIV)
So now we need to judge (definition #2,3 or 4) if someone is (figuratively) a dog or a pig. I don’t see definition #1 or 5 here. Now how are we going to do that! Well we all know, or have know someone who is combative and prejudiced toward Christianity. The eternal skeptic, or more accurately an antagonist. How do we know how we should view this person? Should we just walk away from anyone who does not eagerly accept the Gospel? Jesus does not leave us without an answer here. Read on.
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matt 7:7-8 (NIV)
Pray! How much do you think we will discern on our own? The whole dilemma of judging others is answered by praying.
We had hoped to find a pat answer that we could just go out and repeat in every circumstance with every person. Everyone is different and God is the only one that knows their heart. So really we did find the answer. Pray and follow God.
1. We cannot judge anyone as in condemning them, even if we wanted to. We simply don’t have that authority.
2. We are first and foremost to judge our own lives. If we see something in someone else’s life, chances are, it exists in our own.
3. We are to judge the non-Christian, but not to condemn. That is not our job, and only after prayer.
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17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Prov 27:17 (NIV)