Don’t Judge Me!

judgeHow many times have you been in a conversation about someone’s “habit” or “problem” or “issue” (they may even have been the one to bring it up) and as you begin to express your opinion they say, “Don’t judge me!”… or something similar?  Sometimes they’ll even add, “Jesus said, ‘Don’t Judge or else you will be judged.'”  And while that truly is a quote of Jesus from Matthew 7:1, they (like so many people who quote the Bible) have quoted it verbatim, while being completely ignorant of its context!  What they are implying Jesus meant is not at all what He meant!

We live in a culture that is absolutely, positively, and in all other ways deathly afraid of judging and/or being judged!  We don’t want to upset anyone (therefore we try our hardest not to make judgements about anything) and we don’t want others looking down on us in any way (therefore we demand that they don’t judge us).  I have to confess, I’m kind of angry about this… Jesus never intended for us to avoid making right/wise judgements about sitautions or actions.  In fact, if you look carefully at His teachings along with the teachings of Paul, Peter, John, etc., they are full of judgements!  We Christians are even encouraged/instructed to make those kinds of judgements!  People nowadays have come to use that verse as a shield against any sort of criticism or evaluation.  Are we SO fragile that we can’t take a word of loving criticism?  Or is it perhaps that we are so guilty inside that we don’t want anyone looking too closely?

Let’s take a few minutes to look at what Jesus REALLY said… 

Here’s the entire section from Matthew 7, from which the oft-quoted-but-seldom-understood-accurately quotation is taken… (my comments interspersed)

1 “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. 

  • First, something that is not obvious to the average English reader is this:  the Greek word for “judge” in this passage is more accurately translated as “punish, condemn.”  So what Jesus is saying is, “Don’t look at people in such a way that you condemn or punish them in your mind or with your actions.”  What He’s talking about is a self-righteous, punitive attitude toward people who mess up, or who are a mess.  That was not how Jesus (the only One who really had a right to look down on people) did things.  There’s no grace in it – and Jesus was/is all about grace…
  • Secondly, look at the reason we are not to “judge” in this way… because the same standard we use to judge will also be applied to us!  So let’s flesh that out a bit… If I judge a situation or an action or a person (yes, I said “a person”) according to Biblical standards, then that means that I too will be judged or evaluated by Biblical standards (presumably by God).  Not bad… I think I could live with that.  But if I judge (in a condemning way) by my own self-oriented, “you bug me” standards – guess how I’m going to be judged!!????!!!
  • But don’t stop there!  Context is everything!  Keep reading and see what Jesus says NEXT!

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.

  1. After saying “don’t judge” Jesus IMMEDIATELY gives an instruction TO actively judge… Only He shows a right and a wrong way to do it!  So He can’t mean “Don’t ever, never, ever make any kind of judgement about anyone or anything.”  If He meant that, He’d be contradicting Himself!  Look carefully at the example He gives…
  2. Don’t judge other people hypocritically or ignorantly – if you have problems in the same area, you need to: #1 identify them.  Then #2 – take care of business on your own end FIRST!
  3. And then comes the kicker!  Once you’ve done that – you can THEN SEE RIGHTLY to judge / help another person!  Jesus is not saying, “Take care of your own baggage and leave other people alone!”  He’s saying exactly the opposite – “Take care of your own baggage – then go help other people deal with theirs!”

 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 then turn and tear you to pieces.

  • Jesus doesn’t really care about pearls and dogs and pigs – He’s giving an illustration to show what often happens.  We work hard to sensitively and carefully give truly valuable and “right” help to someone and they simply disregard it, “trampling it under foot.”  Or, even more common due to our culture’s unhealthy fear of judgement and evaluation, people oftentimes respond negatively (you don’t say!)!  There are many of us who have experienced that last part – being torn to pieces simply because we tried to help…
  • A caution here:  If you’ve been one who’s tried to help someone else and they did in fact turn on you in anger – don’t take that as a sign that you shouldn’t have said anything or that you “did it wrong.”  And don’t let it cause you to shut down and vow never to try to help someone again!  We NEED those who care enough to warn, admonish, and exhort their brothers and sisters!  Don’t let the fallout from one negative response keep you from benefitting others!  You don’t know what the result of your words will be – somewhere down the line God is likely going to bring your words, coupled with those of many others, to convict and change that person.  You are may never hear about it, but God seems to speacialize in those kinds of “long-term” projects.  We have to take the long view on this… 

Why is this so important to understand?

  1. Because we can’t live an effective Christian life if we don’t judge things, situations, people, circumstances, etc. by Biblical standards.  We’d hang out with the wrong crowd, allow ourselves to make the wrong choices about entertainment and leisure time, we’d willingly get involved in immoral or illegal things that seem profitable at the time, and on and on and on…  And perphaps most importantly, we’d be raising kids who have no moral compass or Biblical framework from which to evaluate the world around them.  Without making right judgements, life becomes a mess…
  2. Others NEED you to make right judgements… None of us are ever able to locate and do something about our blind-spots unless someone else, who took the time to make a judgement, points them out to us.  They call them blind-spots for exactly that reason – YOU CAN’T SEE THEM!  The church as a whole is supposed to be growing – but it does so as each part of the body does it’s work (Ephesians 4:15-17) – speaking the TRUTH, in a loving way and with love as our motivation!  If we neglect that – we as the church are suffering – in fact, we are going backwards.  Lack of growth and maturation is a sign of illness, not health…

To wrap it all up – WE NEED right judgements to be made within the church!  We have to have it for our good and for our growth!  Solomon said it best when he said…

The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of judgment.

The next time you hear someone in your circle of friends mis-use Jesus’ words – take the time to re-think what they are saying, and maybe even re-educate them on what Jesus really meant.  But let me warn you – people get pretty upset when you take away their defenses…


5 thoughts on “Don’t Judge Me!

  1. Interesting post! 🙂

    Well, one has to have the right to speak his or her mind and opinions. But meaning our words generally is better than direct them at someone. Advice is advice, some are very sensitive. It can be a confusing thing! There is however a difference between judging and sharing an opinion and some can be seen as too sensitive to where the line is. Both for the advice giver (in how he gives his advice) and in the person who asked for an advice (how he takes it).

    No matter what The Bible says.

    My view!
    /Lola 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Bible says what the Bible says… « the passionate follower’s journal

  3. Carey,

    Right on with this blog! We have been in a situation of trying to help someone who seemed very desperate and at the lowest point of their life, just to turn on us like a wild dog. And as you have mentioned, they used that one line from the Bible and I am sorry that I did not have this information as a defense. We really were not judging this person at all, just trying to share how our daily lives were with Jesus and maybe it would be a good idea to check Him out.

    I think in this day and age of trying to be too politically correct, that we avoid trying to really help people or even realizing that as Christians we have just as much of a right to say what is right and what is wrong. Just as we have a right to walk away from garbage on the TV or someone speaking filth, others have the right to walk away from our statements, but we have just as much of a right to say our words as they do. That does not mean we have the right to condem people, just at least give them a choice, which they may not know if we do not speak up.

    I was afraid of trying again, but your words have helped me to see that I should keep trying.


  4. Hi again Mike,

    Yep, the pressure we have from our culture to stay “PC” is something I didn’t mention – but you bet it figures into the reasons behind the toning-down of Christians in particular. Think about it… if Christians are scared to even SPEAK the truth, then our enemy has won a huge chunk of that particular skirmish. I’m glad you were encouraged to stick with it. If we look through scripture, there are quite a few people who didn’t get very good results from their truth-speaking (the prophets in particular). I think you’ll be in good company…

  5. Pingback: The end of the world didn’t happen… but something VITALLY IMPORTANT did… «

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