A commonly quoted bit of scripture is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not or you too will be judged.” etc. I’ve been of accused of being pretty judgmental with the stuff I write on here because I often write posts making moral judgments about one thing or another.
To judge is to pronounce a conclusion about something.
When people say, “Don’t judge”, they are really saying, “Don’t tell me this is wrong. Don’t form that conclusion about my actions.” We live in a culture where you do what is right by you. If someone feels like they are making the right decision, who are you to question it? In our hyper-individualized society we want to do whatever we want.
I find it ironic, since saying to someone that it is wrong to judge is a judgement in of itself. The logic fails. Should we not have the capacity to decide what is right and wrong? You might say you can’t decide that for someone else. But do we not judge criminals?
I would submit that Jesus wasn’t talking about judging one’s actions as being right or wrong, because He did that all the time and wouldn’t turn around and say “Do not do what I do.” No, being like Jesus should be the goal.
While I don’t feel like doing an exegetical analysis of the scripture in Matthew, I would be doing a disservice to you, dear reader, by not at least giving some discussion to its meaning. The rest of the passage is very important.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus is talking about pronouncing judgement on a person. To point at your brother and say that he is the problem. He is flawed. You label him.
And the thing is, a Christian should know that he himself is the one that’s flawed! He should always remember that there is a plank in his eye. When you label someone for doing what you see is wrong, will you not be labeled by the same standard (anything that you do wrong)? When you label someone for their actions, you start to take a road where everyone has a label, including you.
Jesus knows this road. In fact, He even goes so far to say ‘do not throw pearls to pigs’, saying that as a Christian, don’t make judgments for people who can’t appreciate them! Those people are not pigs, but in the same way pigs don’t appreciate pearls, there are people who will have no regard or care for you telling them whats right and whats wrong. Even giving someone unwanted or meaningless judgement is just as useless as labeling them!
Instead, He says ‘ask and it shall be given to you.’ For God has revealed how to make right decisions as we have asked Him, so those who seek whats right will find it in Him. And as Christians we should encourage everyone in that search, so they might find God’s gift of life.
We all have the capacity to make a decision about whats right and whats wrong. We must use it to do to others what you would have them do to you.