“Judge Not.” The Bible says “Judge Not.” Right?
I think this is one of the most misunderstood – or certainly misused – verses in the entire Bible. The context is, of course, usually one person trying to tell another person, a Christian, that they’re not allowed to have thoughts or make judgements about the behaviors of others.
What it actually says in Chapter 7 of the Book of Matthew is this:
1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
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? 4How 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? 5You 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.
Careful reading of the actual text shows us that the instruction is not to refrain from all judgment, but to refrain from being a hypocrite. You will be judged by the same measure you use to judge others. You can’t tell someone about the speck in their eye when you’ve got an even bigger one in your own eye.
Dictionary.com defines Hypocrite as:
|1.||a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.|
|2.||a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.|
If it’s not obvious enough just from the text quoted above, further evidence is given elsewhere in the Bible that making judgments is allowed, even encouraged.
1 Thes 5:21 By all means use your judgment, and hold on to whatever is good.
Luke 12:57 Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?
Luke 17:3 If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
John 7:24 You must not judge by the appearance of things but by the reality!
John 7:24 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.
Matthew 7:6 6Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
In fact, I might go so far as to say that everyone judges, all the time. Even those who pride themselves (which is a post for another day) on being nonjudgmental. Saying that something is OK is just as much of a judgment as saying that something is wrong. Of course, for a Christian, the standard by which we are to make judgments is God’s word. For others, there are different standards by which they live – or no standard.
What does this mean for Christians? It means that you need to be careful when you’re making discernments between right and wrong, or when you feel you’ve been wronged. Before you think about how you’ve been wronged, figure out if you’ve wronged someone else in the same way. (You know, it’s also in the Lord’s Prayer – forgive us our sins as we forgive those who’ve sinned against us.)
What does this mean for nonChristians? Nothing. You may do as you like, as the Bible and God are not the standard by which you live. That’s not meant to be insulting, as I’m sure it will be taken, but rather a statement of the obvious. I don’t expect you to live up to the same standards that Christians ought to be living up to. (ought to be… note that I didn’t say always do.) Now, whether I think it might work out best for you in the long term is another story.
But it also means that you can please stop trotting out “The Bible says not to judge” any time you think we’re condemning something.
What we are absolutely not allowed to judge is the state of another person’s soul. How can we know? We can guess by the fruits produced (“”So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:20), but we can’t truly know. That sort of judgment is God’s and God’s alone.
Interested in more?
Bible Study Notes (not mine)
Big Blue Wave (if you’re going to be offended at the term “lefties,” just don’t click.)
Note: I’ve never been to any of these three websites before and only briefly perused them before linking.
I’ll conclude this post by saying that I am enjoying the word puzzle I’m thinking of as I write. I have made judgment calls on lifestyle choices people make, and have been criticized for doing so, and for not being more supportive or tolerant of those choices. Those criticizing me have sometimes gone on to criticize others for making lifestyle choices that THEY don’t agree with. It’s being judgmental about judgmentalism.
Is this hard to follow? I tried to finish it up this morning while both kids were still sleeping and I was awake and dizzy, then the both woke up and it all kind of fell to crap.