Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Judge Not?

Part 23 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 7:1-6

You can listen to this sermon here.

“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” (vv. 1-2). 

The Non-Christina's Favourite Bible Verse

It’s probably safe to say that the non-Christians favourite Bible verse is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” If you say something is wrong, a non-Christian will often reply, “Didn’t Jesus say, ‘Judge not’”?

Is It Wrong to Judge?

Is it wrong to judge? The answer seems clear: Jesus said, “Judge not.” But if you really think about it, when a person says it’s wrong to judge, that person is making a judgment (i.e., judging a person for judging).

Yes, Jesus said, “Judge not,” but when we interpret Scripture, we must always look at the context. In verse 6, Jesus says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” “What is holy” and “[our] pearls” probably refer to the gospel. “Dogs” and “pigs” are probably people who are only interested in mocking the gospel. Jesus is telling us to stop sharing the gospel with them. This requires us to make a judgment (i.e., to discern whether or not the people with whom we are sharing the gospel are “dogs” and “pigs”).

We should also examine what the rest of Scripture says about the same subject. There are several verses in the NT that tell us to judge between right and wrong and to correct another believer if necessary. For example, Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5; Phil. 3:2; Heb. 3:13; 1 John 4:1).

So what did Jesus mean when he said, “Judge not”? He was saying that there’s a certain kind of person who should never judge.

A judgmental person should never judge. 

Don't Be Judgmental

What are the characteristics of a judgmental person?

1. A judgmental person lacks honesty about his own sinfulness. 

Jesus describes a judgmental person as someone who tries to remove a speck from someone else’s eye while he has a log in his own eye (vv. 3-5). A judgmental person feels superior to others, but he’s a “hypocrite” (v. 5). “If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:2). A biblical example of a judgmental person is the Pharisee in Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

2. A judgmental person lacks a loving concern for others. 

If we need to correct someone, we are to do it as an act of love. We are to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). When someone sins, we are to seek to “restore [that person] in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1). “Admonition has a humility that says, ‘I love you enough to want to help you, and tomorrow you will need to correct me.’” [1]

How Can We Look Down on Others?

Jesus says, “With the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (v. 2). “The absence of mercy and love in the way we treat others will result in unmerciful judgment from God at the final judgment.” [2]

Someone who has experienced the mercy of God can’t be judgmental. We “were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). We were helpless and hopeless. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5). How can we look down on others?

[1] Grant R. Osborn, Matthew, 258.
[2] Ibid.

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