We’ve all read it, heard it, said it to someone, or had someone say it to us. Maybe you’ve even been curious enough to research the passage and its interpretation. The Complete Jewish Bible Matthew 7: 1&2 says, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you”. If you read the whole chapter Yeshua (Jesus) says a whole lot more and the chapter is a lot to digest, but for our purposes we will start with these two verses for now.
The passage seems rather straightforward. Not too much to discuss…..don’t judge others and you won’t be either. Judged by whom? God. He is the ultimate judge after all, right? And that is where many people get tripped up because the meat of the statement is that we needn’t judge others and we won’t be the recipient of the measurement of judgment we dished out. I believe that has earthly and spiritual consequences. “Karma” if you will!
Let’s face it. Humans make horrible judges. We judge others a whole lot more harshly than we judge ourselves and if you were to continue reading in Matthew 7 Yeshua addresses that as well. Judging another doesn’t usually stop there; Judgment’s” sister “Gossip” is usually in the vicinity and the hole we dig for ourselves gets that much deeper. So from this day forward you are hereby absolved of your responsibility to judge others! Do you feel lighter now?? Hope so!!
Zooming in a little closer Yeshua’s admonition to abstain from judgment is because we are not God…not even close. We only see any person or any situation in part. The statement has to do with judging the heart of man, his/her motives for the decision or situation that person is in. Can we, in all reality, truly know the heart of another?? No we cannot. No matter how well we may think we know others, we cannot know their hearts. That being said I dare to venture many of us have been “judged” by others, and some of us rather harshly. It doesn’t feel good does it? I have heard it taught in churches I have attended that it is our responsibility to judge others in the church. What a lot of people miss is that we are NOT to judge the person…that is God’s job, not ours. If we are to “judge” anything it would be the actions of others and then offer our help whether that be in the form of prayer, counsel, or in whatever way would be most helpful. Paul addresses that very thing in another book of the Bible.
Where many church people mess up is in the judging of others. “tsk tsk tsk did you hear that Billy Jean and Rob Roy are getting a divorce??” or “I heard that Jesse James is frequenting the liquor stores and bars and possibly even smoking and yet he is front and center in church every Sunday!!” or “did you see that tattoo on that woman’s arm? Obviously SHE needs prayer!” That, my lovelies, is judgment with a heavy dose of gossip….every bit a “sin” if ever I saw one! What is that you say?? You were merely telling another so that you could join in prayer for that dear misguided soul?? Bull poo poo!! I don’t buy it for a second! And that is why Yeshua said that we would be next in line for judgment and it would be measured out with exactly the amount of compassion we used to judge. Who among us can resist a juicy tidbit of gossip that we cannot wait to share with our best pew buddy even if we promise “to bring it before the Lord in prayer”?! Gossip all by itself is never helpful in any situation. It destroys, but that is a story for another day.
Every person on the face of the earth is on a journey with God whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not. He knows each of us full well. He knows the number of hairs on our head…..and He knows every desire, secret, struggle, hope, loss, fear, and motive we have every moment of every day of our lives. He KNOWS us intimately and the most beautiful part is He loves us anyway! And on that journey we are all at different places with Him; learning and discovering things about Him and ourselves at different times than others on their journey. Not only do we have no idea of the motives of another’s heart, we do not know where that person is on their journey…..what God has taught or revealed to that person so it makes no sense to judge the person.
So what of the actions or words of another? How are we to judge them? That’s risky ground in my book but it can be said that God has laid out what “sin” is as far as He is concerned. The Bible says that God hates sin…that He cannot be in the presence of sin. Ok I get that and because He cannot be in the presence of sin He gave us Yeshua to stand in our stead. Yeshua is God’s bridge for us to approach Him. The Old Testament folks didn’t have that advantage. We do. He also gave us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit and we can choose to hear or ignore Him. When we choose to hear Him He can speak to us about areas that need change. Some call those areas sin. Whatever word you choose to use is not the point….the point is are we going to listen and respond or not. That to me is the journey.
I can only speak for myself but I have lived long enough and have been through enough in my life that I now do my best to accept each person as they are and where they are and pray that God will speak to that person on their journey, and then I leave the work and judgement up to God. At times people have asked me for my opinion on a matter that may be considered “sin” and I will answer. Be forewarned though, I always say, “don’t ask unless you really want to know what I think!” At other times I have felt compelled to talk with a person that I see is headed for hard times, about to make a decision that will dramatically impact that person’s life as well as many others and sometimes that conversation is tough and isn’t always received well, but that’s the risk. The conversation, however, is held in private and not shared with anyone else so that we can “pray about it”. That my lovelies would be treading the path of gossip and quite truthfully having been the subject of gossip at times I don’t care to put another in that position.
If you think that it would be important to pull another into the conversation to give further wisdom or guidance ask for permission to share the situation first, but be certain it is a trustworthy person with tight lips! Offer guidance, counsel, prayer and then leave the work up to the Holy Spirit. Trust me He doesn’t need your help!
Have I screwed up and “talked out of school”, in other words, “judged another person? YES!! I am woefully human, and am more than willing to admit it. I screw up every day, likley every hour, some days probably every minute! I am a work in progress, and God most definitely has His hands full with me!
In the end we are all a work in progress and none of us has risen so far above another that we have the right or responsibility to judge another person. We may not always accept the actions or words of others or believe the actions or words are in line with the Bible, but that does not mean that we cannot accept the person as a unique creation of God and love him/her. We are called to love one another plain and simple.