Judging Rightly

I felt the need to expound on a sentence from my recent post, Haters in the Church.

Remember with me how Christ flabbergasted the Pharisees by “hanging out” with the tax collectors. He pursued the lepers. He noticed the least appealing. He extended grace to the most rebellious.

Note that He never condoned sinful lifestyles and agendas. He never encouraged them in their sin.

But He never shunned them. He welcomed them into his company and preached Himself to them.

“Don’t judge me!” is a common cry in today’s society. Many people, living in various lifestyles, point accusing fingers at Christians and howl, “You’re book says you can’t judge me! You hypocrite! What would Jesus do?!” They almost use it as a slogan to excuse whatever sins they’re nursing, whether it be heterosexual immorality, homosexual immorality, alcoholism, drug abuse, stealing, cheating, lying, abortion, etc.

Let’s look at the passage from which “Do not judge…” comes. Jesus is speaking here in Matthew 7:1-6:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 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? 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? 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.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

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The Greek word for “judge” used here is “krino” (pronounced “kree-no”). The definitions of krino include:

  1. to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose
  2. to approve, esteem, to prefer
  3. to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
  4. to determine, resolve, decree
  5. to judge
    1. to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong
      1. to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it
    2. to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure
      1. of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others
  6. to rule, govern
    1. to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment
  7. to contend together, of warriors and combatants
    1. to dispute
    2. in a forensic sense
      1. to go to law, have suit at law

Christ is telling us that we are in no position to “krino” another human being. In the big picture, in God’s picture, in the picture comparing us menial mortals to the entirety of the universe, most of which are unknown to us but known to God, we have no authority to pass condemning judgment on another human being.

I touched on this in my recent post about “haters in the Church”. The “judging” that Christ is commanding us not to do comes from self-righteousness. It comes from a sense of pride in ourselves, as if we had anything to do with our salvation or sanctification. As if we were God in the flesh.

Like the Pharisees!

Funny enough, we’re not.

So Christ tells us not to judge others, or we will be judged by our own ridiculous, self-righteous standards.

He calls us to first look at the heaping log in our own eye before calling out the speck in our “brother’s” eye. However, there is an unspoken prerequisite. We can’t even see the log in our own eye without first being saved and washed by the grace of Christ. Christ must save our souls, must make us painfully aware of our own monstrous sins, must give us the desire to rid ourselves of those sins, must conform us to His image.

We don’t judge the other person for their eye-speck. We instead remember how we had a log that Christ has graciously removed with His perfect sacrifice on the cross. We remember His grace shown toward us, and we extend that to our brother.

This is where most people today will stop. The Bible says not to judge. So all you Christian haters who are preaching so-called “right and wrong” are deliberately ignoring your own precious book.

But Christ continues.

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.

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Not only are we to repent of our own sins, to deal with our own failures, to thank Christ for His endless grace, but we are to then take the speck from our brother’s eye.

Christ doesn’t want us to simply throw our hands up and say, “Well, you have that speck, but I can’t judge you. So. Go on your way, in your sin. This is me not judging.”

No. We have just experienced God’s grace concerning our own eye-log. Why on earth would we let our fellow humans continue living with their eye-specks?

We know the truth of God, we know His mammoth grace, His unfailing love, His deep, sweet forgiveness of our own sins. Why would we simply shrug and let our fellowmen walk right into hell without hearing of the truth, grace, love, and forgiveness we experienced and know?

Why would we heartlessly throw our hands up and say, “Well, I’m not supposed to judge?”

Christ calls us to humbly, not self-righteously, help our fellowmen with their eye-specks. Approaching them gently about their sins. Preaching the grace of God, which is all we have to commend ourselves. And praying and pleading fervently that they will be saved, too, and experience the power and joy of Christ’s cross.

Even in this, Christ calls us to discernment. The final sentence in this passage:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

We preach God’s word. We sing His truth. We love with His love. We extend His grace. But if individuals repeatedly refuse the message of God, refuse His offer of grace and mercy and forgiveness, we are to leave them to it.

At that point, we have done all we can. We said our piece. It’s in God’s hands.

People don’t like the second part of that passage. They’d much rather hail the “Do not judge” mantra. They’d much rather take Christ’s words out of context in order to justify their lifestyles.

We, as Christians, must take into account the entire passage. First, we are called to examine our own lives for besetting sins. We are called to repent of those sins and let Christ work on us, that we might not practice that sin any longer.

Second, we are called to extend that mercy and forgiveness to others, gently, kindly, lovingly, graciously helping them see their sins and bringing them to our common denominator, Jesus.

Third, we are called to preach the word of God faithfully, persevering in our ministry, pleading and praying. But we are given a limit. We cannot waste our message and our time on people determined to serve the prince of sin.

We are called to judge rightly.

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