Ryan W. Kepke
Adair Church of Christ
When Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Mat. 7:1), he was not merely uttering good advice, but a prohibition, a strong negative command. For failure to understand what kind of “judging” the Lord prohibits men often greatly abuse this passage. His prohibition must be understood in harmony with the context and with other words He said on the same subject. In the immediate context he warned, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,” and “Beware of false prophets” (vv. 6, 15–16). Both warnings require some judging of one’s fellow man to identify “dogs” and/or “false prophets.”
Jesus did not forbid forming an opinion about someone’s character when he said, “Judge not.” He elsewhere commanded, “Judge righteous judgment” (John 7: 24). The judging Jesus forbade is the unjust judgment of the double standard that sees the tiniest fault in others, but sees not even major faults in self (i.e., the “mote” and “beam” illustration [Mat. 7:3–5]). Why did He so strongly condemn hypercritical and hypocritical faultfinding?
It is a morbid habit. Some are like vultures that concentrate on finding rotting carcasses, but others are like humming birds that seek sweet nectar. Jesus proscribed the “vulture” approach that always seeks and sees only the worst, thus to feast on it. Such “judging” blinds us to that which is lovely and good.
It blinds us to our own faults. The chronic faultfinder rarely does any of this work on himself. In condemning the motehunter, Jesus did not lessen our responsibility to recognize, reprove, and rebuke sin in others (Rom. 16:17–18; 2 Tim. 4:2–3; et al.). He reminded us of the need for self-criticism (1 Tim. 4:16). If the super-judges could see themselves through the eyes of others for just one day, it might cure them.
We “buy” and “sell” on the same “scales.” The Lord taught that one who judges others harshly invites—and will likely receive—the same from others. This principle also generally works in reverse: “Give and it shall be given unto you” (Luke 6:38). Although there are exceptions, people tend to return to us the same attitude we radiate. God will also judge us according to our judgment of others: “For judgment is without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy” (Jam. 2:13).
Judge not provides no haven for the “politically correct” atmosphere of tolerance that seeks to prohibit the necessary work of forming judgments concerning the behavior of others and of exposing sin and error. However, His words most certainly prohibit hypocritical hypercriticism.
Adair Church of Christ is located on Highway 69 (3 blocks south of the main traffic light) in Adair. Morning service is at 11 a.m. For FREE Bible course, call 918.253.4897 or e-mail AdairChurchofChrist@Yahoo.
Ryan W. Kepke