Do not judge: Devotional Commentary for December 27 2020-January 2 2021
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
And Jesus continued:
1"Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
2"For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
Jesus continues to speak on significant aspects of the life and service of the Christian, here in the final chapter of His Sermon on the Mount. The Christian is the commissioned ambassador of the Gospel, declaring the truth to an audience of lost sinners. It is on this account that Jesus finds it absolutely necessary to exhort us on how we should treat the people around us, both believers and non-believers alike.
The opening verses of Matthew chapter seven focus on our relationship with others, both as fellow-believers and as the ministers of the Gospel. Here, Jesus tells us to forbear from passing judgment on anyone. Instead, He admonishes us to live a life that reflects the reality of our redemption in light of the Kingdom perspective.
Jesus essentially exhorts us to stop judging others and warns us that we would be judged by the same standard we pass judgment. A word of caution is necessary here. Refraining from passing judgment on others should not be taken as a means to protect oneself from judgment. Nor is it a sweeping call to disregard Scriptural admonitions and principles, becoming indiscriminately broad-minded and accepting of everything. So what does Jesus mean when He says "Judge not"? Can we? Should we or should we not?
Jesus' words are clear and unequivocal. He says don't judge others, as in never judge others. He does not say don't judge, but that we don't pass our own judgment on others. So, we should not judge others. That is, we are not given the authority to judge, condemn, indict, or denounce anyone based on our own assessment of any situation or behavior. That authority ultimately rests with God. God does not delegate His authority to judge, to anyone or any institution. To be sure, we are commissioned to spread the Gospel and make disciples in the authority of the Name of Jesus the Christ, but never to overreach our commission and preside as judge assuming the position of divine authority over others.
Indeed, we are instructed to be uncompromising with evil and every ungodly behavior. We are unequivocally instructed not to be unequally yoked with ungodliness in all of its forms. We must always speak the truth and resist all forms of falsehood with God's revealed truth. However, considering that we are of the same passion with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our assessment of the struggling among us must be guided by the admonitions of the Scriptures so that all of our observations are cautionary, corrective, and restorative. We must rebuke evil, identify ungodly behavior for what it is, and courageously speak out against ungodliness. But we should not oppress the struggling, or even condemn the defiant by our own self-righteous judgment cloaked with truistic Christian cliches.
Jesus directly addresses the self-righteous judgmental attitude reflected by the Pharisees and others like them toward those whom they view with disdain. He says that anyone who judges others will be judged by the same standard one judges others. That is, we should not hold ourselves as the standard for judging others, for we are equally sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God and are equally justified by the unearned gift of God's redemption. Our zeal for God might incite in us the urge to defend God and deal with offenders decisively. But we should never fail to recognize that even the defiant is not beyond God's sovereign authority.
And Jesus continued:
3"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
4"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?
5"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.
Speaking in hyperbole, Jesus exposes a gesture of judgment that is cloaked with disingenuous help. He speaks of an individual who attempts to remove a speck from someone else's eye without first examining one's own eye. Jesus does not condemn or discourage help. But here, he speaks of any and all attempts which seek to find and remove a speck from someone else's eye, ignoring the log lodged in the eye of the one passing the condemning verdict.
Jesus' illustration implies that anyone offering help in this manner is actually expressing a gesture of judgmental altruism. That is, the helper assumes a more perfect or more superior status than others, looking at them with condescension, in spite of the worse condition of his or her own circumstances. Besides the helper's attitude of patronizing superiority, the log in the helper's eye would actually obstruct the vision of the judging Christian, making it harder to offer a meaningful help.
Therefore, holding oneself as the standard for judging others is simply wrong, ungodly, presumptuous, and hypocritical. Jesus unequivocally condemns such hypocrisy and admonishes us to deal with our own inadequacies instead of appointing ourselves to preside over the issues of others. Once the log is removed from our eyes, then we will be able to see more clearly and understand the error of our fallen ways. Then we can be useful servants in all the good that God does according to His gracious mercy. Judge not, lest you be judged by the same standard you judge others and be found wanting.
Judge not. Stop judging. Don't judge. Simple words, but a profound message. No matter how it is said, Jesus' message is clear. His message in this passage is corrective. He tells us what we should not do as His children. Taking the context of the passage into consideration, we hear Jesus saying, the life of the child of God should not be characterized by a judgmental disposition toward others.
Such a contrary behavior strongly influences the believer to act in a manner that is displeasing to God. First, it presumes on God's sovereignty and usurps His authority to judge. Second, it puts the judging-Christian in a position of false superiority and condescension, injecting a damaging rift into the body of Christ. Third, it causes the judging-Christian to act in ignorance without any personal knowledge or understanding of the specific circumstances giving rise to the reason for the judgment. So, a Christian who sits in judgment of another might be considered presumptuous, overbearing, prideful, and ignorant.
No one, in his or her right mind, wishes to be noted for such negative attributes. But why are our inclinations to judge so strong? The answer might be of manifold persuasion.
The problem could be one of perspective. Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam received two sets of instructions from two different sources. God His Creator told Adam to live in obedience to Him and live forever in eternal bliss. Then came Satan and advised Adam and Eve to disregard God's instructions and live according to their own discretion based on their own capacity to know good and evil for themselves.
Adam and Eve were lured into choosing to pursue Satan's false promise. The consequence was death, in keeping with God's revealed stipulation. Obey: and you shall live; Disobey: and you shall die. They entered into a godless life of sin and disobedience in which the Ego became the self-appointed standard for disposition.
And Adam had children in his own fallen likeness, passing down to his descendants a formidable inclination to act according to one's own personal perception. Having now fallen into disunion with God, the result was holding oneself as the only point of reference or standard for evaluating, better said, judging others. So we go on with life sizing up others in light of who we think we are, all along displeasing God.
In saying "judge not", Jesus is essentially exhorting us not to live a life of godless perspective. Even though we are exhorted to test everything and discern truth from error according to Scripture, we are not called to sit in judgement of others in lieu of God. He is Just, and the only Judge. Furthermore, in behaving as judge, we are placing ourselves in a self-assigned position higher or better than those whom we are judging.
The other side of the same coin tells a different story. At times, any critical observation might be easily perceived as judgmental, especially if the opinion or belief is voiced with a strong expression, reflecting a careful and exact evaluation of a situation or behavior. It is not unusual to observe conflict when a strong disapproval is expressed concerning an ungodly behavior or precept during any serious or casual Christian conversation. Nevertheless, if the critical comment stands the test of biblical admonition, and if the tone of the remark is not inherently damning, demeaning, or adverse, then the problem might be one of perception or tone of delivery. In other words, failure to communicate. The child of God must be discerning in such situations and prayerfully look to God for wisdom.
As messengers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our commission is to preach the Good News, to serve, nurture, encourage, and show the Way. We are not sent to judge or to find fault. No one is perfect. We are ministers and not inspectors. As ministers of the Gospel, we look to God for wisdom, and discern the mood of the moment and the demeanor of our audience before we rush to make a statement or deliver the message. The Scriptures directly admonish us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Let the Judge be the Judge and the servant remain a servant. To judge is to be judged. To bless with the blessings of God is to be blessed. So let us speak the Truth and bless. let us not judge lest we be judged and be found wanting.