- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about judging others?
Does God tell us to judge others? Matt 7:1-4, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” Is God telling us we have plenty of our own sins to work on? Or, maybe, we will never have enough information to correctly judge others. As an example, we would have condemned Saul for his persecution of the early Christian church. However, when Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was transformed into Paul. How many people did the transformed Paul lead to Christ? How many of them would not have been able to find Christ without Paul? Since we cannot see the future, we do not know who will encounter Jesus and turn from their evil ways.
Rather than judging others, God calls us to give others the same kind of mercy He gives us, Matt 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If we falsely believe we are not sinners, we will not seek Him, nor will we reflect His mercy. How should we treat others? Matt 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Is Jesus not telling us we would fulfill all of the law if we just did this one thing? Jesus asks us to lay down our stones, Jn 8:7, “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” He knows we are all sinners, none are righteous, Eccl 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” and Rom 3:10, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” So, He uses this lesson to teach us we should have mercy on others because He knows we all need it and others are watching in hopes of seeing Jesus at work in us. God gives us His wisdom to help us find our way to Him. God wants us to use His wisdom as a mirror to see where we need to change, not to correct others, Jam 1:23-24, "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." Instead of being forgetful, He wants us to correct our own ways, Prov 4:26-27, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil."
Jesus wants us to learn from the sins of the Pharisees, Matt 23:27, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” They pretended they were somehow more righteous than other people, but Jesus did not agree. Their self-righteousness turned them into hypocrites, wanting God to forgive their sins, while they forgave not the sins others.
Judging others is a rather complicated subject because many of the things we say are, in some way, a judgment of other people. Negatively commenting on another person’s hair, or their intelligence, clothes, home, or car, can all be judgments. They are all forms of saying what another person is doing is wrong or that they are somehow inferior while ignoring all of the things we are doing wrong. Some of our own thoughts and actions might just cause others to say we are inferior. These are the very reasons God makes it clear that all gossip and judging are wrong, Eph 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” and 1 Tim 5:13, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” and Ps 141:3, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” and 1 Cor 13:4, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” and Gal 5:26, “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Instead of making negative comments about other people, God calls us to focus on the good, Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Surely, we can find something nice to say about everyone!
We confuse judging and justice, which are two very different things. Merriam-Webster defines “judging” as: “to form an opinion, through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises” and “justice" as: “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.” Unfortunately, many of us judge without carefully weighing the evidence, or even considering it, but that is another subject. Confusing these concepts leads some to think there will be no justice without our individual judgment. If we leave the judging to others, everything will work out for the best, in the end, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We just need to have faith that God will do what He says He will.
Some worry that the oppressed will not receive justice for their injuries. God has made two provisions for this problem. First, He has placed leaders in every nation, who are responsible for delivering justice to all they serve, and they will be held accountable, Gal 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." That failing, He plans on returning at the end of time to deliver justice to all. This is why He asks us to pray for our leaders, 1 Tim 2:1-2, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” and to patiently wait for His return, Rev 20:13, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” God has told us, and we can believe Him, Numb 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
God values righteous judgment, Deut 16:20, “That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” and Ps 106:3, “Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.” and Eccl 3:17, “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” and Micah 6:8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” and Zech 7:9, “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:” and Lk 6:27, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” and Heb 10:30, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
But, why does God ask us to leave the judging to Him? Because He wants us to focus on living the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” and we cannot do this while we are judging others. Those who choose to spend eternity with God will all be living the fruit of the Spirit. Any other behavior leads us away from God. We can say we love God; we can say we want to spend eternity with Him, but does our life reflect it? When we live any other way, we become a stumbling block for those who would otherwise choose to love God, Rom 14:13, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.” We cannot say one thing and do another, Matt 7:5, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” and Jam 1:26, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” and Matt 15:7-9, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” and Rom 2:3, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” We cannot fool God; He knows what is in our hearts. We can try to hide it from Him, but that will not work, 1 Sam 16:7, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
When will we listen to God and choose mercy over judgment? This is one battle I face daily! I am too quick to judge and too slow to forgive…but I have gained ground on the enemy, and I pray daily to win this battle.
Dear Jesus, I pray for your help in choosing mercy over judgment, love over selfishness, and You, the great I AM, over the things of this world. I pray this in your precious name, Amen.
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