1/17: To Judge or Not to Judge
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Besides John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world…”) and John 11:35 (“Jesus wept”), I believe more people (both Christians and non-Christians) know this “judge not” verse – found in Matthew 7:1, by the way. Everyone wants to hear that God loves them, and it’s nice to recite the shortest verse in the Bible, but the reason so many folks know Matthew 7:1 is because we all bristle at being judged. We hear of being judged and think back to our most hated teacher who would “judge” us by pointing her finger in our face, looking over the top of her glasses, and pronouncing some dreadful punishment. Folks love to throw this verse around in order to keep from being reprimanded or held accountable for their sinful actions. But are we not supposed to inform people of their disobedience?
If this verse means we aren’t to criticize or form an opinion, we could not obey other verses later in this same chapter. Matthew 7:6 tells us, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine.” We have to make some sort of judgment as to whether or not we are dealing with “dogs” so we’ll know to keep our holy things away from them; and we have to make some sort of judgment as to whether or not we’re dealing with “swine” so we’ll know where to throw or where not to throw our “pearls.” Later in the same chapter, verse 15 tells us, “Beware of false prophets.” We have to make some sort of “judgment” about people to discern whether or not they are false prophets so we can then “beware” of them.
No. Matthew 7:1 does not mean we should stop checking things out to see if they are okay. It also does not mean that we are restricted from inspecting people in order to know whether or not we should keep away from them.
So what does it mean?
We mustn’t decide people are bad and then think we can condemn them to hell. If someone does have “doggish” ways, acts like a pig (swine), or operates as a false prophet, we can identify them properly, and then stay away from them. We ought not “judge” them as impossible to save. Judgment related to that person’s soul must be left up to God.
©2013 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.
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