Judge Not!

The Christian Church finds itself today within a post-modern society where relativism defines cultural truths. To declare an objective truth, or the ability to know what that truth is, has become an absurdity among the enlightened minds of progressive humanity. The armor against objective moral truths has been to pronounce loudly, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, ESV), in order to render the objective judgement of moral absolutes null. What this effort lacks is a full rendering of the context in which those words were spoken. To simply infer that Jesus’ intention was that no person at any point in time has any right to pass a form of judgment upon another person for their actions, words, or philosophy is a misunderstanding of the teaching. When read in context there are defined points to be understood clearly in order to define what non-judgement is being spoken of. Primarily, there is the very next sentence that states it is the manner in which you pronounce and measure judgement, that you will likewise be judged (Matthew 7:2). So, realistically if one judges with compassion, sincerity, grace, and redemption, then one can expect the same in return. However, if one exercises condemnation and mercilessness, then sadly the same can be expected as well. Jesus then goes on to expound upon this lesson using the example of the speck vs. the log within a person’s eye (Matthew 7:3-4). However, the real lesson within this teaching comes at the end when the listener is commanded to “take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5, ESV). This final statement in no way dismisses the Christian from a responsibility to proceed with judgment over sin but in fact orders that judgment be done from a righteous position. As Blomberg states, “But v. 5 makes clear that vv. 3–4 do not absolve us of responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather, once we have dealt with our own sins, we are then in a position gently and lovingly to confront and try to restore others who have erred”.[1]

Admittedly the Church has had its own struggles publicly failing in sin over the years that involved sexual immorality, adultery, financial corruption, and more, however, the shortcomings of Christians is never an excuse to alter objective truth. The objection the Church currently faces in a relative society is an opportunity to speak the firm truth of Christ in compassion and love, but most definitely not to retreat to doctrine that allows a person to believe they are fine as God created them. None of us is fine with our proclivities, desires, or innate renderings as we’ve all been created by God. The biblical Gospel is that we need a savior to rescue us from our own depravity, and that the grace of God has made such provision in Christ Jesus. Paul instructs perfectly, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1–2, ESV). If we were to wait for our own righteous perfection in order to pass judgment, there could never be a situation where we could judge. Thanks be to God, we have a righteousness in Christ that gives us the mercy, grace, compassion, and redemption in which we can pass judgment on others.

[1] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 128.

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