by John Grant
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
Over lunch after worship those of us around the lunch table got into a discussion on judging others and what the Bible says and means about it. After all, Matthew implies that we should not judge others, lest others judge us.
This is an issue that has confused many people. On one hand, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged“. On the other hand, the Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil. How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?
I thought of two men I had recently met in the same setting and environment. One had a calm, assuring and sweet spirit. His words were edifying and encouraging. He had a magnetic personality. The other had a salty vocabulary, a rough and forceful personality. Both were very successful businessmen.
While I did not judge them, as it was not my place to do so, I did observe their conduct and demeanor. From that observation, I could observe the kind of people they were and what kind of life they led.
Christians are often accused of “judging” whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, “Do not judge.” There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise with careful discernment (John 7:24). When Jesus told us not to judge, He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. What Jesus was condemning was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others.
If a believer sees another believer sinning, it is his Christian duty to lovingly and respectfully confront the person with his sin. Likewise, when we see non-believers sinning, pointing out their sin, individually or collectively, is not the kind of judgment Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount.
This is not judging, but rather pointing out the truth in hope and with the ultimate goal of bringing repentance and restoration to God’s Word whether individually or across the land. We are to proclaim what God’s Word says about sin…. Calling it what is. We can hate the sin and love the sinner.
We are to “judge” sin, but always with the goal of presenting the solution for sin and its consequences, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. While we should not judge another’s life, we can be fruit inspectors and what is on the outside (conduct) is a good indicator of what is on the inside (heart). As my pastor says, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
(a thought on life from John Grant )
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John Grant is a former Florida State Senator and is a practicing attorney