To Judge or Not to Judge

Judge with gavel

Most, if not all of God’s rules were created for the same reason good parents create rules for their kids. Good parents don’t want to be tyrants, but they do want their kids to grow up to be safe, responsible, capable, and good people.  When someone breaks the rules, they are not only hurting themselves but often they are hurting those that love them as well.
If we say nothing when someone is gambling all their money away, instead of feeding their family, we by our silence are approving of a behaviour that is hurting an entire family and reflects poorly on all of society. We need to in some way shape or form give that person a nudge in the right direction.  If we don’t judge the behaviour, we are judging the family to be unworthy of the life that they should be living.
Judging is unavoidable.

But what about Matt 7:1 that says “judge not”

Instead of just looking at just one verse of  Matthew 7 let’s look at verse 1-5

Matthew 7:1-5
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use,  you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Notice verse 5 says, Hypocrite! First, take the log out of your eye, then you can see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. This passage isn’t saying don’t judge, it’s saying that if you drink like a fish, don’t judge your brother for having a cocktail or two.
If you are cheating on your wife, don’t judge your brother about his sexual bad habits.
If this situation happens to you, stop cheating on your wife, then you can take the log out of your brother’s sex life.

There are also verses that contradict the modern interpretation of this verse. When in doubt about any Bible passage we can use the Bible to interpret the Bible. One of the verses that encourage us to judge is John 7:24 which states that we should not judge by appearances, but judge rightly. This verse explicitly tells us to judge.

2 Timothy 3:16
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,

In order to correct or rebuke, you first have to judge that someone is wrong.

There are some rules for judging, however.
1) We should all be more generous with our positive judgments, then we are our negative judgments.  You see judging isn’t just about shaking your finger at people, it is about giving pats on the back as well. We are judging our kids when we say good job on making the honour roll.  When we tell someone that you appreciate how generous they are we are judging them… Positive judgment can often achieve better results than negative judgments.  They win friends as well.

2) Always remember that every human on this planet, even if you don’t like them was made in the image of God. That image has been distorted by sin, but it is still there. When you judge in a non-urgent situation you should be as nice, and as helpful as possible, if you are mean to a person, you are also being mean to a creation of God.
There are times when it is OK to be rough, for example, if you are given a choice between shooting someone or letting them kill a child, It isn’t just the bad guy being made in the image of God that counts here, the child whose life is in danger, and any child in the path of the killer in the future are also made in the image of God. Do what you have to, to protect the innocent children.  If you see a drunk person about to put their keys in a car and drive away, by all means, judge them in whatever way you have to, in an effort to not only protect the drunk driver but anyone in their path, who might get killed by the drunk driver.
3) Always remember that there could be background information that you do not know about. If you see a woman give an excited hug to a man who isn’t her husband, hold back before judging her, does she have a brother, a father… Talk to her before you judge. There could be multiple innocent reasonable explanations for that hug. Many times our first interpretations of things going on around us are flat out wrong, or at least less serious than we first thought.

4) Have some grace.

“You are afraid of me! Yet I am not really wicked. Love me and you shall see! All I wanted was to be loved for myself.”
The Phantom of the Opera

Those words are spoken by a man who was so badly deformed that his own mother forced him to wear a mask when he came near her. He had never been kissed, not even by his mother! While it does not excuse the evil he did, if you can put yourself in his shoes for just a moment. I think you can see how The Phantom Eric became really angry with the world.

We all to lesser extremes have unfortunate things in our past. Those unfortunate things can often drive a person to sin. When we are tempted to judge people we need to remember that we don’t know what that person has endured. It doesn’t negate guilt entirely but can give a backstory that makes it easier to show some grace.

Read more in The Most Misused Verses in the Bible, Surprising Ways God’s Word Is Misunderstood

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