judicate“Judge not that ye be not judged.”

~ Jesus (Matthew 7:1)

“Who are you to judge me?”

“Don’t judge me!”  

“God is my only judge; mind your own business!”

Have you ever heard anyone use these words or other similar statements?  Have you ever used them yourself?  I have. What’s interesting is how followers of Christ will sometimes use these self justifying proclamations to defend actions and behaviors they know are contrary to the standards they profess to uphold.  Another interesting observation is how non-believers, as well, will often use this passage of Scripture as ammunition against would be accusers.  The tragic thing is that many times the ammunition is targeted at believers who are trying to “evangelize” them.  I wonder why?

Did that hit a nerve, saint of God?

Allow me to shed some perspective on this frequently misused passage of Scripture.

To gain a clear understanding about this biblical reference to judging others, it is important to read this passage in its context.  This is true of all Bible study and interpretation.  The background and setting for this single passage of Scripture goes all the way back to Matthew chapter five…The Sermon on the Mount.  In His discourse to the multitude, Jesus is addressing the spiritual and social standards embodied within the kingdom of God. The very kingdom to which He will be opening the door. These standards represent the guidelines for kingdom living while on earth.  In other words, Jesus is saying, when you believe and choose to follow Me, these are the standards you must openly demonstrate to support that reality.  These standards will produce a quality of life that will communicate to the world that you have been transplanted into a different kingdom. A spiritual kingdom  This will be your witness of Me to the world in which you live! Living by these standards, you will be live, tangible evidence of a spiritual reality. (see Matthew 5:16)

The meaning of “Judge not that ye be not judged,”, based on this context, is confined predominantly to fellow believers and followers of “The Way.” It refers to mutual accountability… i.e. being “my brother’s keeper.” As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to “study to show ourselves approved unto God” and to “rightly divide the word of truth.” As such, we are to be the one’s who are most equipped and most qualified to hold one another accountable to the same standards to which we hold ourselves. This mutual accountability within the kingdom of God is accomplished by “speaking the truth in love.” Therefore, as Jesus prescribes, judgment should always begin with ourselves.

“You hypocrite, first cast out the beam (2 X 4) out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck (saw dust) of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)

Jesus is not saying, “Don’t judge your brother.” He is saying, “Judge yourself first.” The truth is, we will never judge others without prejudice until we first acknowledge and deal with our own shortcomings. How can we?  We can’t see clearly.  To neglect this key step is to walk in hypocrisy.

Consider it in this way. Have you cared for a brother or sister in your family and observed that they were deviating from the well known and established standards of your parents? Out of love and concern for them, did you remind them of the standards and, thereby, avert potential discipline or chastisement? Matthew 7:1 is rendered with this same family dynamic in mind. The judgment spoken of in this passage of Scripture is to take place within the parameters of family ties for the purpose of maintaining unity and peace within the family.  This is what healthy families do.  In this case, the family of God. And the biblical protocol for calling a brother or sister to task, is to first ensure that you are towing the line and then bring the correction with love.

Now, consider this. If the family next door has different standards than yours, would it be proper or productive (or logical) to correct any of it’s members by your standards? …even if you loved them?  …even if you believed your standards would render more good than theirs? Certainly not! The standards established in your family apply only to the members of your family. To correct or judge people outside your family by the standards in yours could lead to all sorts of negative backlash. And, it would be rather presumptuous, don’t you think? In fact, to do so could bring opposition, criticism and even shame upon yourself and your family. People might even avoid you and your family for fear of not measuring up to your high standards. They might feel…I don’t know… like you’re judging them. In this sense, the judgment spoken of in Matthew 7:1 applies to believers judging believers and not to believers judging non-believers. We are from, different families.

Now, if someone from outside the family is adopted in, they are lovingly taught and lovingly held accountable to the standards of their newly adopted family.

  …Does this sound vaguely familiar? It should.

If I’m stepping on toes here, I apologize for my terrible aim. I’m not shooting for your toes.  I’m shooting for your hearts.

…Peace and Blessings…

~ joe

  1. naturlvrx2 says:

    Thank you for this post Joe. Holy Spirit directed me to this passage just a couple of days ago and I have been asking him since, ‘Why?’

    This clears some of this up, but still waiting for his guidance on application in my life. Not sure why he directed me to that specific scripture. I know he will show me though in the right time. Now I know it will be connected with ‘family’. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. naturlvrx2: Thank you for your read and comment. I am certainly thankful that this post provoked thought and clarity. I will definitely pray today along with you for continued clarification and application.

    ~ Peace and Blessings…

    Liked by 1 person

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