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THOU SHALT NOT JUDGE?
By Paul Proctor
July 25, 2003
judge: To criticize or condemn somebody on moral grounds.
I sat with my wife the other afternoon and listened to a friend’s rehearsal at a local church where she was preparing to put the final touches on an upcoming concert scheduled for later in the week. She sang a lot of original Christian material as well as some musically updated hymns intermingled with inspirational stories and a personal testimony. It was quite compelling. She was honest, sincere, polished and very much at ease before her audience, giving overall, a very impressive and theologically sound presentation.
However, something she said amiss during her testimony caught my attention and reminded me of one of the more misunderstood verses in the bible. She reminisced about being somewhat judgmental of others early in her Christian walk and how the “legalistic” tendencies of spiritual immaturity had eventually alienated her from friends and brought on much confusion and unhappiness later in life.
Referring to the ever popular verse of scripture, Matthew 7:1a: “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, she offered, between songs, the politically correct, liberal view that we, as Christians, are not to judge others – all the while making rather colorful and humorous tongue-in-cheek, bless-their-little-heart judgments about “prim and proper traditionalists” who don’t care to participate in the new light and lively, come-sloppy, let’s rock, bring a sandwich and a soda pop, pump-up-da-jams type of “worship service” currently in vogue around the country.
“Thou shalt not judge” is, in reality, a false commandment and a common cliché among liberals whose theology comes from socialists instead of scripture that implies everything Christians did on Sunday morning before Willow Creek and Saddleback was somehow wrong, as if the REAL church was born in the 60’s under a Peace sign on a lighted stage before an applauding audience rather than under an old rugged cross 2000 years ago on a lonely hill called Golgotha, where tears, sacrifice and suffering were the order of the day – the kind of cross that’s getting harder and harder to find in and around today’s reinvented rock and roll church.
My friend, though very talented, funny, charming and entertaining, had apparently made the same mistake so many of today’s Christians have made. She let feelings, friends and fashion instruct her on the issues of life instead of the Word of God. She used only the first seven words of an important message from Jesus and edited the rest. But, if we read on through verse 5 of Matthew Chapter 7, we discover that the real warning Jesus gives us here is not that all judging is wrong – just hypocritical judging.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” - Matthew 7:1-5
You see – the verse actually ends up instructing us to “cast the beam out of our own eye” FIRST, BEFORE “pulling the mote out of our brother’s eye” – NOT “Don’t ever pull the mote out of your brother’s eye”. What Jesus was saying here is that others will judge us by the same standard we judge them so, DON’T BE A HYPOCRITE! Of course, the Christian life is not about pointing fingers at each other but neither is it an all-access pass to free-for-all living in Jesus’ name.
Another verse of scripture often used inaccurately to support the fictitious commandment: “Thou shalt not judge.” is John 8:7b, where Jesus, addressing religious leaders concerning the woman caught in adultery, said: “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone...” Again, liberals and well-meaning Christians alike stop and read no further than the word “stone”, leaving the false impression that adultery really isn’t such big deal after all and maybe sin in general isn’t as bad as we once thought.
Was Jesus telling them to keep their silence concerning adultery and be more tolerant of sin? NO! He was again teaching them to not be hypocrites – sending the woman away with specific instructions to “sin no more”. (i.e., Stop your adulterous ways and repent) A very judgmental remark by today’s standards, don’t you think?
If there is to be no judging among Christians, how could we even have a legislative or judicial branch of government in this country? How could we be a responsible parent, a good teacher, a fair employer, a helpful counselor, an effective policeman, a powerful preacher, an accurate journalist or even a faithful friend? If judging others is as unchristian as today’s liberal claims it is, how do you explain the often harsh and intolerant language of God’s most faithful from the New Testament?
(John the Baptist to King Herod): “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.” - Mark 6:18
(The Apostle Paul): “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” - Galatians 2:11
(Stephen, speaking to the religious leaders before they stoned him to death):
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” – Acts 7:51-53
(Jesus addressing the religious leaders):
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” - Matthew 23:27
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” - Matthew 23:33
“O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” - Matthew 3:7b
“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” - Matthew 12:34
And what about Jesus taking a whip to all of the moneychangers in the temple there in Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15? That’s about as judgmental as it gets short of execution. If this doesn't sound like the Jesus you know, it may be that you've been worshiping and serving the wrong God.
For those of you who are still unconvinced – read here what the Apostle Paul had to say about Christians judging others:
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life” - 1st Corinthians 6:2-3
Another singer friend of mine, who recently repented, told me in an email message a few months ago, much to my surprise, that way back when he and I were working on the road together, I had “planted one of the seeds” that influenced his decision for Christ. He told me that I said to him “in disgust” one day: “I've figured it out, you're going to Hell”. “I didn't show it”, He said, “but that (comment) went through me like a knife ‘cause I knew if I didn't change my life that you were absolutely right.”
From all appearances, I was being very judgmental, wasn’t I? What if, in the interest of "tolerance, diversity and unity", I had withheld my “judgment” of him and looked the other way in order to protect and maintain our “relationship” as friends and practice what today’s liberal Christian calls “love”? (i.e., hear no evil see no evil) Frankly, it probably would have been the most cowardly and unloving thing I could have done to him – making me just one more, in a long line of non-offensive, non-judgmental, don’t ask-don’t tell, smiley-faced saints, that were hugging him all the way to hell.
If all we do is tell the sinner: “Jesus loves you” there’s a good chance they’ll mistakenly think they’re saved. Only after they know they’re lost and in danger of eternal damnation will they come to appreciate those three little words that mean so much and cry out to Him in repentance and faith.
I AM NOT and probably never will be a great soul winner. But, apparently, whatever I said to my friend that pivotal day, the Lord somehow used to wake him up and turn him around because He’s been glorifying God with his music and testimony ever since. I hardly recognize him.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” - Proverbs 27:6
© 2003 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! for ye are like unto