“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
As some of you may know, I write a column in the local paper that sometimes makes people mad. Being a contributor for the religion section, I will point out societal ills that you and I would consider unbiblical. It makes some folks pretty angry to read that their particular issue is a “sin.” The most common response I get (other than four-letter ones) is that quote from Jesus in Matt. 7:1.
What did he mean? It’s way too easy to pluck that verse from its context and say that Jesus is telling us: “To each his own” – no one should comment on the behavior of others.
Instead, the context tells us exactly what Jesus meant. The verb “to judge” has a wide range of meanings…from “distinguish” all the way to “condemn/damn.” In fact, we’re commanded to be distinguishing Christians – as we help pull the speck out of our brother’s eye (7:5), as we distinguish between worthwhile and futile conversations (7:6), as we “watch out for false prophets” and “recognize them by their fruit (7:15-16).”
So, we are to judge, but in the sense of distinguishing between people. But we’re commanded not to do so harshly (7:2) or hypocritically (7:5). What we are NOT to do is judge people in the sense of “condemnation.” That final judgment is left to God (7:21-23).
But what is the purpose of examining the fruit produced by someone’s life? Very simply – to determine where they are in relationship to God so that you and I know how to minister to them. Jesus warns in this very passage, that the gate to heaven is narrow and few find it. Our job is to lead as many people as we can to that gate!
Join us on Sunday and we’ll continue the discussion.