Last week we looked at the poison of pain and bitterness. Another similar poison often feeds off the poison of pain and bitterness, and it affects pretty much the way you see everything. It’s the poison of passing judgement.
So today I want to examine the entire area of passing judgement… Do we, don’t we, should we, shouldn’t we?
No one like a judgemental person… They are miserable, painful and depressing to be around. They can make our life miserable, especially when you are married to them.
If you ever offer any criticism, then this verse will be the one they quote at you. In fact, Matthew 7:1 is fast surpassing John 3:16 as the most quoted verse of the Bible. So let’s have a look at it now…
“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.
It should be noted that this verse is usually quoted either to point out someone else’s sin, or when trying to excuse your own sins.
So does this mean that if we make any judgement about so on else, or the behaviour of someone else, that we are poisoned with this thing?
Does this verse mean that we are never allowed to make a moral judgement about someone’s heavy our, or another right or wrong in another person. If w see wrong in someone’s life, am I never allowed to point it out or mention it?
TO JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE, THAT IS THE POISON
It’s so easy to be judgemental. So are we or are we not allowed to judge, and if we are, when can we? And when does passing judgement upon another person become a poison?
The short answer is, when all you ever do is pass judgement on another, it’s definitely a poison, poisoning your character and everyone around you!
The words of Jesus are often misquoted, and used by people to stop adverse or unfavourable criticism. They are sinning, they know it, and they use this verse because they know they are guilty!
I’m sleeping with 5 women, hey man, don’t judge me! Alright, I cheat on my taxes, but don’t judge me! Dude, you can’t be passing judgement on me!
The thing is, if we apply this tenant to every situation, we can never make a decision on anyone’s conduct, we can never offer useful or constructive criticism, we can never stand against those teaching error and we can never apply church discipline.
In short, if Jesus’ words here are applied across the board so we can never judge anything or anyone, we become moral imbeciles. I for one want to have God’s standards in my life!
I would also argue that if we remain silent and make no judgement when we see people overtaken in a fault or sin, we not only bring reproach upon the name of Christ, but we also fail to exercise love towards that person. If I see someone in danger and remain silent when I can speak and save them, am I not morally at fault?
Greek word for judge is krino, which means to judge, pass judgment on, condemn in a legal sense. This means to stand on trial, judge, condemn and punish. Scripture teaches that there are certain times we must not judge others, certain times we must judge or make a decision about others, but that doesn’t mean we should not be judge, jury and executioner. The carrying out of the penalty is not our role, it’s God’s!
A variation of this Greek word is also translated “to discern”, in passages like Hebrews 4:12 and Romans 12:2.
Jesus is not saying that all judgement is wrong at all. If you look across Scripture, clearly some judgements are right, while others are clearly wrong, and these are the ones that can become poison your life.
WHICH ARE THE POISONS OF PASSING JUDGEMENT?
Here are some of the judgements that need to cease because they become poison in our lives…
Let’s go back to the passage in Mathew to examine the context of what Jesus is actually saying, not as one verse in isolation.
“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. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Hypocritical judgement is that harsh, bitter, fault finding spirit that finds and points out the sins of others, often while committing the same sins themselves, is what Jesus is talking about here.
The same phrase is used of judgement in Luke 6:38, but there it is linked with the phrase, “”with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” What is Jesus saying here?
Judge others, sure, but be careful because however you judge others, you will be judged in the same way. Are you ready for that? Seriously, are you prepared for that? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
It is especially challenging in the Message Bible,
Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.
The story is told of a Bishop, who was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came up to the purser’s desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person. The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, ‘It’s all right, bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!’
So what about you? Do you condemn others hypocritically? Do you look down on others?
And don’t think that Christians are the only ones guilty of passing judgement like this, because people who aren’t Christians are more often than not bigger hypocrites. They judge and condemn us Christians without even properly examining what we believe. They refuse to come to Jesus not because He is wrong, or fictitious, but simply because they don’t want to change the way they are living. If someone says the church is full of hypocrites, I invite them in because there’s always room for one more! If you want to attack Christianity, be my guest, but please check it out thoroughly first. We’ve nothing to hide, so I challenge you, examine before you attack.
JUDGING BY APPEARANCES
Another poisonous form of judgement is when we judge by appearances…
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
In other words, Jesus says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, and He is right! How many people have you met and made a surface judgements about, a judgement not based on facts but on their appearance? We do it all the time!
Jesus said these words when others judged Him for healing on the Sabbath.
You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.
We judge according to the flesh, but God looks at the heart. How many times have you judged someone, for good or ill, based on appearances of what you think you know of them? If someone is rich, successful or honoured, do you judge them differently?
In 1884 a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to establish a memorial to him. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said, “Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship.”
“We were thinking of something more substantial than that…perhaps a building,” the woman replied. In a patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive and the couple departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known today as Stanford University.
I like Elton John’s music, but if he walked in here today, I bet you’d make a fuss about him, despite that fact that he lives a completely debauched, bisexual, hedonistic, self glorifying lifestyle.
If an alcoholic walked in, I’m sure you’d treat him differently to Pastor Brian Houston, right? We see the outer, but God sees what’s within. That’s why Jesus said, do not judge by appearances.
1 Corinthians 4:5
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
Listen to this verse in the Message…
1 Corinthians 4:5
So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.
So God will ultimately judge men, not you. Don’t be too hasty to pass judgement on others, because only God can see and will eventually judge the heart.
F.B. Meyer once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances.
In the same way, don’t be too hasty judging people’s actions or motives. Romans 14 talks about people who judge each other based on liberties we take.
Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
This is not suggesting we should not judge another’s sin, but don’t judge those who have different liberties to you. In the Philippines recently I met a lovely guy who told me that the minions were demonic, and all action movies were of the devil and Christians should never watch them. This teaching is not in the Bible, but if that’s his deal then I won’t judge him, and I expect him not to pass judgement on me if I watch Rambo!
STANDARDS AND MOTIVATIONS?
If not all judgements are poisonous, so which ones are acceptable?
Firstly, you before you consider any judgement of any kind, consider the state of your own heart… and make sure you are judging with…
- The right standards:
Any judgement must be made using the right standards. And what is the right standard. Is it the law of the land? Is it culture and society? I hope not,because that changes every minute! What was illegal 10 years ago is now accepted by society. Yesterday I read a report stating that a group of paedophiles are lobbying that they have a different sexual orientation and they should be allowed to express it. 10 years ago marijuana was considered an illegal drug. Legalised in Colorado, it is now considered acceptable, but scientific evidence proves it is irrevocably damaging the minds of teens who smoke it.
Our standard must be something that doesn’t bend or change depending on militant lobby group or social media. Something that remains relevant, strong and true, something upon which society is built. Something that promotes family, health, good relationships and what is right…
The Word of God is our standard! Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The Word of God judges the thoughts and attitude of the heart. If you know God well, if you study His word every day as many of you are doing, then you will start to make right and correct judgements. You will know the mind of Christ because yours will be renewed.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
So as you read His Word, your mind is renewed and you are able to discern what is true and right.
- The right motives:
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Why are you judging something? Is it for the Lord, for His glory, or is it something within you? Will the judging build others up, or build you up? What is your motive?
WHAT CAN WE JUDGE?
Passing judgement on people is a poison, to us and to them. But there are certain Judgments as Christians We Must Make:
- Judge what is right
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you study your Bible, if you listen to the Holy Spirit, if you get to know God closely, then you can more easily judge truth from error, what is morally right or wrong. As Peter Marshall sad, you are better to stand for something lest you fall for anything!
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
- Judge what is taught
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.
Many Christians think that because the pastor says it, or does it, it must be true. No, you need to judge what I say and make sure it’s true. If my word becomes unquestionable we run the risk of becoming a cult! Whatever I teach, I challenge you to check it out and make sure I preach truth. Same with TV evangelists, Connect group leaders or Christian books.
- Judge between believers
Sometimes disputes arise between people, because the people of God are still people, and a discerning believer is better placed to make a value judgement…
1 Corinthians 6:2
Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
We should not be going before civilian magistrates to settle church issues. This is one area of judgement we are qualified to exercise!
- Judge what is sin
People do things that you might think are wrong, but how do you know if they are? Our standard is not the law, its not the prevailing culture of the day, it’s not TV or the latest celebrity, it is the Word of God.
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
It takes time and practice, but if you know God and His Word, not as milk but as meat, you can judge what actions are sin, and move to stop them. You can stop them in a your own life, and in the lives of fellow believers.
I must point out here that I believe we can judge the actions of a person, and the havoc their actions cause, but we cannot judge the person. Does that mean we have to shut up and put up with anything anyone wants to do? Of course not, but whatever they do, however wrong or destructive they are, we need to love them and do what we can to care for them, not judge and condemn them, or reject or persecute them.
Lily House exists to help girls who have made bad decisions, and help them get back onto the right track. We don’t condemn them, we love them, but we still judge that bad decisions have been made. But I believe that if they live by God’s standards, if they live for Him, He will bless them in their lives, and their futures.
JUDGE NOT, BUT BE A FRUIT INSPECTOR
While Jesus says judge not that you may not be judged, He is warning us not to be judge, jury and executioners, not to treat people with contempt and punish them ourselves. We are not to pass judgement and condemnation against others, be they in the church our out of the church.
However, we must be able to judge the results, the fruit of what others do. In a sense, we cannot be judges or condemners of men, but we must be fruit inspectors!
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.
Jesus said in John 15:5
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
So if you are to judge, don’t judge the man or woman… Judge the fruit.
As a pastor, I have people telling me that God told them to do certain things. If God said it, I am not going to stand in their way. I cannot judge them, but I can be a fruit inspector. If the fruit of their decision is disharmony, disunity and destruction, that’s bad fruit. That decision is not God, folks, because the fruit of the Spirit is…
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Don’t be judgemental, just be a fruit inspector. You’ve every right to pass judgement on the fruit on someone’s decision, but no right to judge the person themselves, because that is God’s job!
THE POISON SEEPS IN
A judgemental spirit is a poison that seeps into your life. If you have this poison, then everything you see is negative. Everything any one else says or does you immediately jump to the most negative judgement you can.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Or as the Message says,
God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?
So if you are someone who is quick to judge others negatively, and maybe quick to condemn them also, then you may be infected with this poison.
THE ANTIDOTE TO THE POISON OF PASSING JUDGEMENT
The antidote to this sinister poison of passing judgement on others is to renew your mind. You cannot just say, I’m going to change, you must renew your mind. You do this by filling it with that which is good…
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In other words, do the daily bible reading plan and watch your mind, attitudes, standards and eve urging be renewed. It really works!
Remember also if you are quick to judge that you will be judged accordingly…
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
Ultimately we will all be judged by God. That’s His job, not yours, not mine.
Those without Christ experience the Judgement of the Great White Throne, where God with a broken heart will say, depart from me, I never knew You. They go to eternal hell. That’s why we urge you to give your life to Jesus. If you accept Christ, then you skip this judgement. But you still face the judgement seat of Christ. Here your actions, word and thoughts will be judged. You are not at risk of going to hell, because you are saved already, but you will receive rewards for what you have done.
As Christians we must not judge one another negatively, we cannot condemn one another and we must not treat each other with judgement and contempt. Before you try and pass judgement on another, stop and think about what they are going through, how hard their struggle has been and don’t for one moment think you are better than them, and that you’d never be tempted to fall too.
Everything we do must be done in love, not judgement. Remember, you can be right but still be wrong. If this poison is in you, I challenge you to join us in the Bible reading plan and renew your mind. Don’t be too busy. If you have time to eat, watch TV, you have time to read yourBible. And if you are serious about this antidote, you can start taking it immediately.