When We Judge

Gaga Symphony Orchestra

In Matthew 7, Jesus begins by telling us (his disciples) not to judge others; it is the introduction and topic of the entire chapter. When he uses the metaphor of the log and the splinter, he is not saying get rid of the log so that we can judge the speck. If we think that, we miss the point.

He tells us two things, if we choose to hear them. First, the comparison between the log and splinter is crucial. He lays the log inside our eyes, not our neighbor’s eye. He tells us our own sin is exponentially greater than the sin of our neighbor, and there must lie our focus.

Second, He tells us until we are clear of all sin, we have no right to judge the sins of another. The apostle Paul backs that up when he tells us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

“In judging we act as though we are the other person’s master and thus as though he or she has to answer to us. We are attempting to stand in the place of God.” Gregory Boyd, Repenting of Religion

When we judge, we do so from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Jesus told us if we want to follow Him we must consume everything about Him. “After hearing these teachings, many of His disciples walked away and no longer followed Jesus.” They didn’t understand or like what Jesus said, so they chose to turn and walk away. Though at that moment, Jesus spoke of the communion elements, He began by saying, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again; whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” (6:35, 61-66) the same thing He told the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:4-14)

If we call ourselves Christians, we cannot pick and choose which of His commands to follow. If we intend to follow Jesus, we must swallow Him whole. It means we do not judge. It means we love our (Samaritan, Muslim, gay, immigrant) neighbors. It means we love our enemies. And some still take offense to this.

But Christ lets us know, rather than take offense or judge, we are to take wisdom about what He has just said by asking for it, and asking continually. (7:7-8) When we abide in Him, we can savor His great wisdom and lean on His understanding rather than our own.

Jesus speaks of our treatment others, which we have labeled the “Golden Rule,” as the essence of our character, our behavior and our judgment. (7:12) In truth, the only reason we need to judge anyone is to determine their needs and spiritual condition that we might meet them where they are in order to establish a relationship with them and compassionately minister to them. This is what Jesus did with Matthew, with the Samaritan woman at the well and with Nicodemus.

Our Father’s love is relational and unconditional. He passed that love along to Jesus who passes it along to us. And through the Spirit, we are to pass it along to everyone else God created and leave the judgment to our Creator.

We come together from different directions while walking this path. It is as though Jesus is the conductor of a worldwide orchestra, each of us playing different instruments in His symphony, all to the relational tune of His love and grace.

Our job is to keep our own instrument tuned and play our very best. The only One whose job it is to judge and correct when an instrument is out of tune is the Master Conductor, and that is what makes His symphony so harmonious.

©2004, Gregory A. Boyd, Repenting of Religion p. 118, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI

 

21 comments

  1. I appreciated this message. I wrote a similar post after experiencing a severely judgmental preacher. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

    https://dividetheword.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/christians-stop-judging-each-other/?frame-nonce=09cff88343

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    1. Thank you, and thanks for the link. On my way over to read now.

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  2. I of course agree with this. We must follow Jesus’ instructions and not cherry-pick.

    But, where does rendering unto Caesar enter this? For example, we must judge if we are to vote responsibly or enact change. I cannot view, for example, the current actions in the WH without determining what appears to be right vs wrong, good vs evil, and still be considered a faithful citizen of this Democracy.

    I try to see the context of my fellow man’s actions. But, unless I choose to be utterly passive, I must discriminate between actions that help mankind and this planet and those that do not, or even harm them.

    Seeing our own shortcomings first and foremost is our personal responsibility. Not putting ourselves above our fellow man is another aspect of this. But simply viewing all people’s actions neutrally means we will allow wrongdoing to continue unchallenged.

    I wonder if we are missing the context of the times in which Jesus was speaking. He was planning a completely new order and social structure among his followers. Presumably, this nation, founded 2000 years later, represented (at one point anyway) a natural outgrowth of that new order. Are we not to act accordingly when in the public domain?

    Your thoughts on this would be valuable, Susan.

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    1. It’s not about being passive or neutral, Beth. It’s about the way we conduct our own lives. So, when I view what I discern as wrongdoing, I check in with the Spirit. And I put my energies not into condemnation but into opposition – putting things right.

      Example: locally, when I see someone being bullied (it happens in senior communities a lot), I will uplift the person being bullied and speak privately, gently and kindly with the bully to attempt to change her behavior.

      Nationally: When I see injustice, I may write to my congressional representatives or to people I watch on the news asking them to vote a certain way or cover a certain story.

      And btw, I’m not always perfect in this. I do sometimes let my emotions carry me away and I tweet against a person’s character, but I also try to remind myself to use Twitter to inform, not to condemn. It’s difficult, but when I remember to ask the Spirit first if I’m hurting or helping, He answers honestly. I always must be aware first of my own agenda and whether I’m acting out of love or anger.

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  3. Yes. I was raised in dear people who were taught how to judge. I still remembered that day that set me free to love everyone that Jesus sends. Thank you for posting.

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    1. I pray everyone can experience that type of freedom, Susan. It makes such a difference in our hearts and minds. It’s a metamorphosis, nothing less, that only God can accomplish.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “In truth, the only reason we need to judge anyone is to determine their needs and spiritual condition that we might meet them where they are in order to establish a relationship with them and compassionately minister to them. This is what Jesus did with Matthew, with the Samaritan woman at the well and with Nicodemus.”

    Amen. Perfectly stated! As Jesus said, when we let Him deal with us completely, we can see clearly, which means we see others like He sees them…and that’s always with grace and unconditional love.

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    1. I get this more deeply every day now, Mel. The more condemnation and judgment I see, the more I lean towards unconditional love, grace and mercy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true. Once you see it, you see it in everything you do, which leads us to walk in His mercy and grace.

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  5. Great reminder! So easy to forget our perspective and view the world with our vision and not the way God wants us to see it and other people. I definitely fall short in this area….our media is always making judgements as well and sometimes I think we go with that line of thinking! I will pray for all of us to have the vision God wants us to have today! Thank you for sharing your walk of faith!

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    1. Thank you for these words, Rick. We all fall short, yet it’s our Lord who lifts us up and leads us. Thank you for your continued prayers.

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  6. Reblogged this on Pete Gardner's Blog and commented:
    Wonderful thoughts from Susan this morning. Everyone should read this.

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    1. Thanks again Pete for your support.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m getting some good feedback on your post. Good stuff, as always

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      2. Terrific! I’ll stop by and take a look! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Good words, Susan.. Judging others s pride, short and simple. We think we are better. I like the fact that you brought out about determining their spiritual condition so we can build a relationship to minster to these who are lost. We still have an obligation to lead the lost to repentance, but it s God who saves them, not us. It is His Holy Spirit that convicts them of sin, righteousness and judgment, not us. We must minister n love Thanks for a very thoughtful post. I am reblogging this on my blog page this morning.

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    1. Thanks, Pete. You’re right – it’s all about relationships and we forget that. When we reflect the relational affinity of the Father, the Son and the Spirit, there is nothing else to do but love and offer grace.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think God does knitting. Because as I was reading your post, I could hear God in the background: “Purl: Under the fence – Catch the sheep – Back we come – Off we leap …”

    I worry.

    I worry about whether God will approve of me agreeing, condoning, embracing, uttering, thinking, doing, not doing, reproaching, supporting, not supporting, allowing and not allowing. I am not judging others – I am “judging” how God will judge me.

    I am worrying about what God will think of me for … (whatever the “for” is).

    LIGHT BULB MOMENT!

    When I “judge you” I am acting. I am acting how I think I should act for … (whatever the “for” is).

    My “log” is not a sin to be got rid of –it is another self-deception (along with a small condemnation of another). It is my script. A script that has me as the star, the director, the lighting crew, and the audience.

    Because I am worrying about what God will think of me for … (whatever the “for” is).

    Thanks Susan – now the “please don’t do this” makes perfect sense to me – it has always been just another rule until today: a loving rule for your protection, not mine. That just flipped – it is for both.

    Wow!!

    (And the knitting? it’s that connection thing again – the same thread from your words that he is knitting with the same thread and different words in mine)

    ((hugs))

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    1. Yes, Paul, self-deception, condemnation, our own script, another rule. And He is always knitting, purling, knitting us together in love.
      And I love that about Him! ❤

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