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June 9, 2021

Judge Not! (or is that a ?)

Judge Not! (or is that a ?)

Christians have had, especially in recent times, been known to be very judgmental. In fact this seems to be a cultural “expectation” of a Bible believing Christian when someone is found out to be one. And to be fair - some Christians do go a little too far on the judgment and don’t go far enough on loving people, and that is a problem. We are commanded to love - full stop. But at the same time there are also various verses which talk about judgment - specifically within the church. In response to the very judgmental Christians the phrase “Only God Can Judge Me” has popped up in culture - specifically in response to someone who claims to be a Christian and tells someone who is not part of the church that something they are doing is sinful.

And while this phrase is usually used by people to defend their actions, in a way they are correct - to an extent. Let me explain.

If you don’t read the bible - one of the most popular and quoted phrases from it is Matthew 7:1 - and not because people actually believe in the bible - but instead to try to defend what they are doing when something is pointed out. The phrase “Only God Can Judge Me” is in fact derived from Matthew 7:1. When people quote Matthew 7:1 in response to criticism - they ignore the rest of the verses after.

Judge not, that you be not judged

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 7:1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Seems pretty clear - don’t judge.

But here is something that people don’t remember. The Bible is literature - and like all literature - it has to be translated in the correct fashion. In other words, if something is a parable you have to translate it as a parable - you don’t translate it as a another type of literature - and context of the whole phrase is extremely useful and important for getting the full meaning.

Let’s take a look at the full section to try to get the full context.

“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. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 7:1–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Reading through this section, we are introduced to the idea of specks and logs in eyes - obviously not literal logs - but instead the log is used to symbolize how sin in our own life needs to be taken care of first before we should try to analyze other people’s sin - aka specs in other people’s eyes. We should be careful not to be hypocrites and take care of our own sin before we go around accusing others about their sin - as it does say that if we pass judgment on others the same measure (or criteria) will be used against us. This is to show (especially in context of the sermon on the mount) that God is the ultimate judge of all - especially those who are not a part of the church.

But notice something else that sticks out of the verse. Do you see it?

Maybe the following will help.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 5:9–13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Notice in 1 Cor 5:9-13 that Paul calls for believers not to associate with those who call themselves brothers (or sisters) of Christ who are immoral (sexual immoral, greed, idolater, reviler, drunkard, swindler) but does make note in verse 10 saying “not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world….since then you would need to go out of the world.” In other words - those that do not claim to follow Christ and do not call themselves a brother or sister in Christ are not to be judged on their actions - and we should continue to associate with them with the ultimate goal/hope that they will see the difference in how we live and ultimately turn to Christ.

In other words - those who are a part of the Church and call themselves a brother/sister in Christ are to be held in judgment of the others in the church when they are doing something immoral. Notice that there is nothing in the list of examples of things which are not actions - they are all outward actions - and not inward thoughts/motivations. The reason for this is that we as people are unable to judge a person on their motivation - we can only see the outside on what is going on.

Ultimately we all will face judgment from God as He is able to judge both our outward actions as well as our internal motivations. And those outside the church will only see judgment from God and should not be judged by those inside the church as they are not held to the same standard as those who claim the title of Christian.

So the next time someone says “Only God Can Judge Me” - they may in fact be right.

We live in a world that has been, is, and will always be hostile to God and the Christian way. While we are to show our light to the world, we have to understand that we are strangers in this land - and will continue to be so until Jesus returns - which means always having to deal with things that are contrary to us. We cannot force our beliefs upon others - as that is not what Christ called us to do. He called us to love everyone - even our enemies and those we disagree with. And we also have to remember that to love someone does not mean that we accept all that they do (especially if it is wrong/immoral/evil to a Christian) or agree with them fully. We can love people while disagreeing with them. Love - in the truest sense of the word - means to want what is best for the other person. As part of loving a person we are to treat them with respect, dignity, and compassion at all times - no matter what.