One does not need to be a Christian to know this phrase and have it memorized. It appears that this statement, when taken out of context, states that there should be no judgment whatsoever; because the thought is, who are we to judge? God is love, and the loving thing to do is accept and affirm all people and their actions, right? Wrong! Christian’s have a bad reputation as a bunch of judgmental hypocrites. People have been hurt by those in the church because they felt unfairly judged and condemned. Unfortunately, that’s true. There are way too many people in our communities who will never set foot in a church because we have shown ourselves to be no different than they are. Actually, we have shown the unchurched that we believe that we are better than they are. We will let them know our pecking order in no uncertain terms through our looks, jabs, condescension, and air of moral superiority. For these and other attitudes, we must repent.
When the look on someone’s face, the arms crossed over the chest, or the tattoo says Don’t Judge Me, does that mean hands off, no opinions or judging allowed? I don’t think so and I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant either.
In context, Jesus is talking about loving one’s enemies (vv.27-36), and that the attitude of a Christian should be one of mercy, because our Father in Heaven is merciful. In verses 43-45, we are to discern the people we are dealing with based on their fruits; whether good or bad. And in between these verses (vv.37-42) we are told not to judge. That means we are not to feel superior or have a judgmental or condemning attitude.
Some people love to judge for the sake of judging. I’ve heard this saying many times, though in different forms, “you spot it, you got it.” One will judge in others what is deficient in them. Judgers love to point the finger at someone else. They love to get the spotlight off of them and lessen their own guilt by tearing others down. My wife reminds me that the other drivers on the road are exhibiting idiotic behavior, and are not idiots. If they all drove like me, I imagine, the road would be a safer place; shame on me. There is no mercy in that type of attitude. Why? Because the judger places motive on the judgee, seeing him or her in the worst light possible. Ultimately, it’s not what they do it’s who they are. And it’s that judgmental spirit that God will hold against a person and judge (v.38).
A thought to ponder: Before you decide that a person is worthy of your derision, look first at yourself and examine your own life to see if you are seeing clearly. The disciple or follower of Jesus should be constantly submitting himself to the Word of God. A right understanding of our own depravity, sin, arrogance, and helplessness to live godly lives should humble us when dealing with others. Can you imagine walking up to someone to dab a speck of dirt out of their eye only to hit them with the 2X4 sticking out of yours? It’s a funny picture, but as we think about it, and discipleship, the picture can be profound.
What if, as a disciple of Jesus, I always perceive myself as having a huge log coming out of my eye, and all others as having only a speck? I would treat others differently and that would/should keep my judging in check. And, if all other disciples of Jesus had that same perception of themselves, they with the plank and me with the speck, how much better would we all get along? Pretty well I would imagine.
But, and hear me well, we must not let that vision of humility remove the responsibility of calling sin, sin and error, error. Remove the plank, repent of your sin, attack the error and not the person, go to your brother and seek restoration instead of condemnation. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (v.36).
Show mercy, be kind, and love those you deem unlovable. There will be times to stand boldly against the brood of vipers that seek to subvert God’s people, however, that won’t be every time and with everyone.
Grace and Peace,