“Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1)
Many people, even many who otherwise do not have much respect for Scripture, know this passage. This passage is misused when it is used to deflect an expression of concern or a call to repentance. It is misused when it is used to defend a person’s desire to do what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6). On the other hand, we understand this passage if we take it in its context, and realize that it forbids self-righteous, hypocritical judging, a judging from an attitude of “better than thou.” That indeed is sin. Scripture has much to say against such judging.
People who say that we are not to judge are in fact saying, “I reserve the right to judge, but you shouldn’t.” The truth is that people are making judgments everyday. One cannot have it both ways. Elections are a matter of judgment. We judge one candidate to be more suitable than another. When an employer terminates the employment of an employee, he has made a judgment. When one marries a spouse for better or for worse, one makes a judgment! When one purchases an automobile, one makes a judgment. All of us have made the judgment that a motel was too expensive, or not clean, and we have chosen another. When one chooses to be a Viking fan instead of a Packer or Cowboy fan, he has made a judgment. This should be enough to put to rest that we should not or do not make judgments.
But this is so often what we hear in the church, including among ourselves. “You should not judge other churches.” We don’t! We judge their doctrine. Why? Because God tells us to do so. “He who is spiritual judges all things…” (1 Corinthians 2:15). Matthew 7:15 says, “Beware of false prophets.” 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Testing the spirits involves making a judgment. We judge what is taught to be true or false. In 3 John 11 we read, ” “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good…” How is this possible without making a judgment? The child of God knows that the standard of judging doctrine is not a subjective opinion. He knows that the standard for judging doctrine is the Word of God. He also knows that such sanctified judgment is necessary lest he or others be confused or be misled by that which is false. Everything contrary to the Word of God bears with it the potential to destroy faith. In fact we invite judgment of our doctrine by members as well as those who are not. If what we teach is the truth of God, why should we fear to have our teaching judged in the light of Scripture? The apostle in 1 Corinthians 10:15 said, “… Judge for yourselves what I say.”
One can test the sincerity of people outside one’s fellowship who say, “You should not judge.” Ask them to join your fellowship. If after study of the Word, their answer is yes, they have made a judgment of their former fellowship. If their answer is no, they have made a judgment of your fellowship. Only dead people do not make judgments!
The Law of God uncovers sin. It uncovers our sin. It condemns us all for all, have fallen short of the glory of God. The fact that all are sinners, while it makes self-righteous judging sin in itself, does not forbid passing judgment on sin. If we are not to pass judgment on peoples’ actions (Judging their heart is God’s business), then we must conclude that worshiping a false god is fine. It is alright then to curse God and man; it is acceptable to neglect word and sacrament; it is appropriate to disobey parents and authority; it is right to murder; it is allowable to commit adultery; it is to steal; it is right to slander and ruin another’s reputation; one can be greedy and envious of another’s goods. Unfortunately and to great harm our politically correct and feckless society is suffering the consequence of the misguided “no-judgment” policy!
Have we all abused “judging?” Surely, we have from both sides. We have abused it by self- righteous judging. We have abused it be refusing to exercise the responsibility. Either one is sin!
At the end of the day, we pray for forgiveness of sins by the merit of Christ who was judged worthy of death in our place. We further pray the Lord God will help us make proper judgment until we shall stand in His judgment.