Monday, May 13, 2013

Don't Judge Me!

Judge not, that you be not judged
 Matthew 7:1

     “'Judge not, that you be not judged.’” So Jesus is commanding us never to judge people. 
     We as Christians are to strive to be like Christ, right? Well, let’s look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees: “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!... You blind guides!... You serpents, you brood of vipers! ...You blind fools!... You white-washed tombs full of dead people’s bones!’” (Matthew 23, ESV). I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s judging. 
     So maybe you’re saying that Jesus can judge, because He’s perfect, but we shouldn’t, because we’re sinful. Actually, Jesus commands us to judge people: “‘Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.’” (John 7:24, NKJV). Now hold on; does Jesus contradict Himself? Nope. Whenever a seeming contradiction arises in the Bible, the first and best thing to do is look at the whole passage. 
     Matthew 7:1-5, “‘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.’”
     Jesus isn’t saying that we are never to judge. He’s saying we are never to judge hypocritically. That’s a big difference. We are not to condemn others of lacking self-control or quickly getting angry or procrastinating if we ourselves do the same thing. Once we take the log out of our own eye, we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ with the speck in theirs. Once we conquer our personal sin, then we can go to the other and say, “Hey, I've noticed this in your life, and I had the same trouble. But here are some Bible verses and strategies that helped me overcome that issue.” Plus, if we've conquered that sin through the Holy Spirit’s help, we can more easily relate and empathize with the struggling brother or sister. 
     That’s the kind of “righteous judgment” to which John 7:24 refers. John 7:24 also says not to judge by appearance. Sounds pretty easy, right? Wrong. I don’t know if we even realize how much we judge others. 
     Have you ever been tailed really closely by another car (even though you were already going ten over the limit) and thought, “Man, that dude is obnoxious! Wouldja just get off my bumper already?!” Have you ever seen a teen texting while shopping with his mom, and you held disgusted thoughts that teens nowadays (excluding your own lovely children/self/friends) are so rude and too absorbed with technology? Have you ever walked into Wal-Mart, seen someone in baggy clothes and tangled hair, and thoughts of “wow, she just doesn’t care a thing about appearance” cycle through your head? 
     Have you ever realized that you’re unrighteously judging them? 
    Have you ever considered giving them the benefit of the doubt? Perhaps the driver is a father rushing to the hospital to save an injured child. Perhaps the teen loves his mom and spending time shopping with her, and the mom asked him to text the dad to ask if they were out of milk. Perhaps the lady at Wal-Mart had a really rough day and didn't have time to shower because she was caring for sick children and just needed to grab some more cough drops. 
    If you've judged others, I’m not judging you! I've done the same thing, and I've learned (and am still learning) to put people in the best light. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV). This does not mean we are to be gullible and poor judges of character; we still need to be wise. If someone chooses to wear punky clothing, that has an effect on other people, and he will be associated with punks, and people might be leery around him. But we shouldn't make prejudices (pre-judgings). Perhaps he is a new Christian and is still learning about modesty and clothing.
     Perhaps that driver is just a jerk on your tail. And he’ll be held accountable eventually, possibly by a police officer waiting just over the next curve, or possibly not in this life-time. But it is our Christian duty to give him the benefit of the doubt.
     So they next time someone says something dumb, does something stupid, eats something unhealthy, wears something odd, or causes belittling thoughts to arise in your head, ask yourself if you do or have done the same thing, and put them in the best light. You would want others to do the same for you, wouldn't you?



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