"Judge Not, That You Be Not Judged."
"Judge not," is often quoted by our denominational friends when we point out their religious errors. Thus, they often misapply the words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:1. However, I would think that we need to learn what Jesus was teaching when he instructed us to "Judge not, that you be not judged." These words mean something and I believe we must properly apply them to our lives.
We Must Judge!
Some have taken these words of Jesus too far and teach that Christians must not judge at all. However, if that is what this passage means, then we have a problem because Jesus tells us in the very next verses and other scriptures that we must discern or judge certain things and people. Again, the words of Jesus are plain when he said, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (John 7:24) Also the term "discern" denotes: "a distinguishing, a clear discrimination, discerning, judging," is translated "discernings, judging by evidence whether they are evil or of God." According to Hebrews 5:14 Christians who are mature can discriminate or judge between good and evil. Therefore, the words of Jesus were not a blanket condemnation of judging.
We Must Be Careful!
However, as Christians making judgments from time to time, we must take great care to follow the guidelines that are set forth by the scriptures. For instance, Jesus taught, "Do not judge according to appearance . . . " Now how many of us are guilty of this very thing? I know some who judge other because of the appearance of their skin. This is not right! Others judge and show respect of a person because of the clothes worn (James 2:1-10). Also, some judge others while they are doing the very same thing that they are condemning (Rom. 2:1). For instance, I have heard brethren condemn some who work on the Lord's day and do not come to worship as they should, but they themselves will stay home to allow their children to play, do homework, or care for the garden during the midweek services or gospel meetings. What is the difference? Some condemn others for the schools they attend, but fail to understand that as a matter of conscience they cannot attend the same schools they do. Furthermore, others don't understand and are distressed when brethren get mad at them for some small matter, but they themselves will get mad at others for the very same thing. These are examples of judging and then practicing the very same sin! This is what Jesus is condemning! This is what we must not do (Rom. 2:1)! If we do then we commit sin! We must take great care and judge according to the judgment of God. This is simply comparing God's standard of judgment, His word (John 12:48) and making proper judgments.
Things We Are To Judge
I would suggest that we must of necessity judge people. We must discern those with whom we associate (1 Cor. 15:33). I will always encourage people not to get in a bad coward because eventually they will be influenced by their sin. We must judge preachers! Yes, people must judge those of us who preach the gospel. John taught the brethren, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1). Each who listens to my preaching and teaching must judge me whether I am teaching the truth. You need to compare the things I teach by scriptures, not your opinion of what the scriptures teach (Acts 17:10-11).
Are You Judging?
Let us not throw out the "baby with the bath water" about making judgments. Christians must make judgments every day they live. That is part of life. However, we must be careful to follow the scriptures and let God's word, not our opinions be the standard of those judgments. Are you judging? If so, is it proper or improper.
By Randy Cavender
From Expository Files 5.11; November 1998