Dr. Jay Worth Allen
“Judge not, that you be not judged”
In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord declared, “Judge not, that you be not judged” - by no means one of the simplest prohibitions to interpret - yet, we should not to come to a hasty conclusion as to its intention.
The disciples of Christ Jesus are to conduct themselves in a manner exactly the reverse from that of the Pharisees or those who would have you keep the Law or their opinion of the Law; we unsparingly judge ourselves and refuse to invade the office of God where others are concerned.
The word “judge” in, “Judge not, that you be not judged” is one which occurs frequently in the New Testament, and is used in quite a variety of senses. “I speak to wise men; judge you what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:15). Also, “judge in yourselves: is it becoming that a woman pray unto God uncovered?” (1 Corinthians 11:13). The word “judge,” in these instances simply means to carefully weigh a matter and then form an opinion.
“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors; the one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, you have rightly judged” (Luke 7:43). The Lord applauded Peter's “right judgment”. Peter had drawn a right conclusion. So then, “Judge not, that you be not judged”, does not imply that we shouldn’t have an opinion (which is literally impossible), to never come to a conclusion concerning anyone or anything, nor to fully accept whatever anyone says because we are not to “judge” anyone - thus implying that we are to never “judge” anyone’s words or actions no matter how dictatorial and fruitless they may be. This would be a negation of reason.
The capacity of judging, of forming an opinion, is one of the elects’ most valuable faculties - the right use of judging, is one of the most important duties we have as believers. If we do not form judgments as to what is true and false, right and wrong, good and bad, false and true doctrine, true and false teachers, preachers and prophets how can we embrace the one and avoid the other? So “Judge not, that you be not judged” does not indicate that, under any circumstance, we are never to “Judge”.
I was told as a child, “You shouldn’t judge.” “You can’t judge another man.” “Now Jay, stop judging.” Yet, the Bible tells me to judge “right judgment.” We have two attitudes here, “judge not that you be not judged,” and “you have rightly judged.” So what's the difference?
What if we see a brother sin? If we say he’s sinning, aren’t we judging? If we don't judge his sin, aren’t we harming our brother, and the church? So what kind of judging are we not to judge? Jesus Himself said, “Why even of yourselves judge you what is right” (Luke 12:57); “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). If we don't form judgments as to what is right and true as opposed to what is false and wrong, how can we embrace the one and avoid the other? It is very necessary for us to have our “senses exercised to discern” - thoroughly judge - “both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14), so we will not be taken in by every oily-mouth imposture we encounter.
The Lord never forbade us to act according to the dictates of common prudence. He did not prohibit us from judging men’s character and actions according to their avowed principles and visible conduct. The actions of men absolutely requires us to form a judgment - with respect both to their state and their conduct. This is being responsible “sons.” Unless we come to a decision of what is germane, what is good or bad in those we meet and situations we are in, we will be found rejecting the one and condoning the other. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15): how can we honor this injunction unless we carefully measure every Churchman we see and hear by the Word of God? How will we be able to know which man is truly a man of God or simply some self-appointed holy Joe or sky pilot, unless we inspect their fruit - their life, words and converts? This is judging - right judging.
But we do not, nor can we judge another man’s heart - reckoning him a believer or not - reckoning his motives to be from a sinful heart. That's the Lord's job. In that instance “we judge not lest we be judged.” Just as, “whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (empty, an abusive epithet), shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, you fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). We do not call, or judge, a man a fool - “a fool in his heart” - because we really don’t know whether he’s a fool in his heart or not. It should be noted, the fool here is not some short-sighted fellow who comes to work wearing one brown shoe and one black. No, this fool is a fool in his heart. “A fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1;53:1). Only the Lord can judge the heart of a man. We can't. We don't know the heart of any man. So we, “judge not.” Right judging.
Published: 25 May 2010 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.
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© 2012 dr. jay & miss diana
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