To Judge or Not to Judge

Old gavel and court minutes displayed at the Minnesota Judicial Center.*

It has been said that the most popular verse in the Bible is not John 3:16. Most people, though they cannot cite the book, chapter, and verse, invariably know how it goes: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” (Matthew 7:1).

Nearly without fail, this verse gets whipped out whenever someone challenges a person’s less-than-godly behavior. Often, the most ardent defenders of this verse are those who do not even follow Christ.

For example, someone makes the assertion that homosexuality is wrong. “Don’t judge me.”

It’s probably not a good idea to get plastered every weekend. “Don’t judge me.”

Sex before marriage is a sin. “Don’t judge me.”

Let’s be honest. What people really ought to say is, “I know what I’m doing is wrong and I don’t like people pointing it out.”

Not too far after the “don’t judge me” verse in verses 15-20, Jesus warned us about false prophets. He told us the primary way to distinguish between a false prophet and a true prophet (or teacher of the Word) is by his fruit. HELLO! That’s judging.

Elsewhere, in John 7:24, Jesus tells his followers to “judge correctly.” It is obvious that when we are dealing with matters of false teaching and sin, it is the Christian’s duty to declare it as such. Do we not judge our kids? I would love to see me daughter try to convince me that Jesus doesn’t want me to judge her.

When we look at this section of Matthew chapter 7 in its context, it is clear that Jesus was talking about a self-righteous, hypocritical kind of judgment. He followed the “don’t judge” verse with the example of someone trying to pick a speck of dust out of a person’s eye when there is a huge plank in his own eye.

Finally, if you find yourself in a position where you think you need to judge someone, first ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is it a matter concerning false teaching?
  2. Does it involve a clear case of sin?
  3. Are you judging in a hypocritical manner?

If the answer to 1.) or 2.) is yes, and the answer to question 3.) is no, then the judgment is probably biblical.

Further Reading:

* Image courtesy of Jonathunder.

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