We are all sinners… Don’t judge…No one has the right to judge except God… We should not say anything about someone else’s behavior because, well, it’s just wrong to do so. Case closed- Right? The most famous words used to support this are from Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount. “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1, 2 (1) It would seem that would settle the issue. Or does it?
The word judge (krino- gk) “means to separate, distinguish, discriminate.” (2) It means an evaluation based on the facts and evidence at hand. Is Jesus saying we can never do this or is he is contrasting the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and their hypocrisy, with the proper way to speak truth? His words do not forbid, but caution us that if we are going to do this, we must check our own spirit because we will be judged with the same attitude that we evaluate others. He asks us to clean our own eyes first, and then we’ll be able to adequately discern the behavior of someone else, but he does not forbid us doing so in the right spirit. This is further evidenced by the instruction in verse 6, not to waste what is holy on people who are unholy. I can’t make this determination of what is holy if I can’t pass some type of judgment or assessment. Keep in mind our court system is designed like this and “judges” every day.
So let’s consider one verse of scripture among many: “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (3) Am I judging when I tell someone they are endangering their eternal soul if they sleep around on their spouse and do not repent? Of course not! I am simply agreeing with what God has already said, as they are His words and not mine. Am I wrong to say that thievery, homosexual behavior or drunkenness can keep someone out of heaven? Ask God. He is the one who has said they will not inherit the Kingdom.
Another example is the popular story of the woman caught in adultery. We use this as evidence of how Jesus let people of the hook of moral responsibility. However, after Jesus said he did not condemn her, he also told her to stop her immorality and cease that kind of lifestyle. It’s the perfect balance of grace and truth, which Jesus completely understood. To ignore her sin would have been to dishonor His character. (John 8)
This was so important to God he warned the prophet Ezekiel, that if he failed to tell people of their sinful behavior, Ezekiel could endanger his own soul. “When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. (Ezekiel 33:8, 9) (4)
Remember, In doing this, we don’t get the right to be unkind, have the final word, as only God can ultimately give this or fail to gauge our own behavior by God’s word. We do get the privilege of speaking the truth in love, hoping that some will understand how much God has done for all of us by giving an opportunity of relationship with Him through Christ.
So let’s stop the semantical hermeneutics, be gracious in our words and simply say what God has spoken. It’s okay to do this- now and always.
(1) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.
(2)Robertson, A. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Mt 7:1). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
(3) (4) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.