Lies Christians Tell #3: “Judge Not”

dont-judge

Probably the most widely quoted Bible verse in our nation is Matthew 7:1. It’s the verse that says, “Judge not.” Interestingly, if one simply keeps reading they will find that there is a much broader context. However, our culture doesn’t keep reading. Instead, it takes the first two words as the whole command…interpreting from these that we are never supposed to tell anyone that they are wrong about anything. Ironically, to tell someone that they are wrong for telling someone that they are wrong is absolute hypocrisy…yet we tend to miss that point. So…while discussing the “Lies Christians Tell,” it is imperative that we talk about one the most widely spread lies: “We’re not supposed to judge…”

In the discussion of “lies,” or, “misconceptions,” one of the most prolific is the idea that we are not supposed to “judge” one another. Essentially, Christians and non-Christians alike believe that this means that it’s wrong for us to ever think that someone is wrong…and especially that we should not correct them. This leads us to another very damaging lie.

Lie #3: “We’re not supposed to judge.”

I have to admit, this is one of the most annoying statements in my opinion. I hear Christians say it all the time. And then I hear outsiders say things like, “I thought the Bible told you not to judge!” It’s annoying to me because it’s obvious that whoever is saying it has not read the chapter wherein the principle is discussed. I believe this happens as a result of laziness (recurring theme in these posts it seems). Once again, the laziness is twofold. First of all, people make the statement dogmatically without ever reading the Scripture it comes from. I say they haven’t read the Scripture, because if they had, they would know that it says a lot more and puts the whole idea into a broader context. But it’s a lot easier to simply and brainlessly repeat what someone else has said the someone else has said that someone else has said…you get the idea. Here’s the way many people read it:

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.”
~Jesus

The other side of the aforementioned laziness is the much larger issue. It’s a lot easier to say that we shouldn’t judge others than it is to follow the instructions of Jesus in the parts that are stricken through above. Ultimately, we are too lazy and too afraid to help someone who is making bad choices by telling them that they are making bad choices. Also, If we are going to confront them, then we’ve got to deal with our own stuff first…and then go to them. The reason for this is quite obvious. It will help us to help them more because we see our own problems and have worked through them. Secondly, since our problem is a “log” and theirs is a “speck,” we will approach them in a much more humble fashion. Once again this requires that we work on our own issues first…so…laziness kicks in and we just accept that we have issues, too. Therefore we have no right to say anything to anyone.

So what is the truth about “judging?” First, it’s important for us to understand the historical context of the statement Jesus made. The phrase, “Judge not,” was a Jewish idiom. Rabbis said it daily, much the way we may say, “eat your wheaties,” or, “say your prayers,” or anything like that. It meant to give everyone the benefit of the doubt as opposed to cynically and automatically assuming the worst. It meant to generally think well of others. He said that if we don’t act this way, then others will not act this way towards us. This makes so much more sense. This has nothing to do with whether or not we approach someone for rebuke or correction. In fact, the following verses bring about a context in which we are very much supposed to help others see the areas in which they need repentance. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian Church made it clear that we are to “judge” one another inside the Body (specifically 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). Paul told us in this passage something that really is common sense…we just don’t like it. He told us to hold each other accountable. He told us to confront one another. He also made it clear that he was speaking about those inside the family of faith and not those on the outside. To hold people on the outside to the same standard would be holding them to a standard that they don’t even believe in. This is not a contradiction with Jesus’ words. Jesus was telling us to think well of others but also told us to help others with their struggles in sin. Paul said the same thing to the Corinthians.

If the Christian family of faith is going to grow in holiness, then we have to stop taking the easy way out. We have to start having the tough conversations. That also means that we have to take personal inventory as well. Christ is not glorified by lazy, timid Christians. He is glorified when we are serious enough about Him to take our holiness seriously as well as the holiness of our fellow Christian. This isn’t meant to make us the moral police. It’s meant to make the entire body healthier.

Up next: “God wants you to be happy.”

 

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