EXPOSE | We Love Straining Gnats
“Our fallen nature is profoundly selfish and proud and often hypocritical, judging ourselves indulgently and others severely. We are quick to strain gnats and swallow camels (Matthew 23:24), quick to take tweezers to another’s eye when we need a forklift for our own.” – Jon Bloom
EXPLORE | Read On. Read Often.
“Judge not.” It’s so useful. A ready-made defense for any occasion. Which may very well be the reason why many believe the “judge not” verse to be one of the most widely misinterpreted verses. How convenient to be able to throw a “judge not” at the end of your judgement.
Take for instance the following yard sign. There are a few homes where I live that have it proudly on display.
Obviously a judgement has been made. Actually, a judgement has been made about a judgement, and seems to be displayed in such a way that their judgement is not open for judging.
Our misuse of this verse makes it very convenient: judge not–unless you’re the one judging.
Bloom’s quote above takes us where we need to go to properly understand this verse. In order to get to the right understanding, it will require that we get past the first two words.
There is a rule of thumb that is helpful in this case: “read on, read often” as context and repetition bring clarity. The further we read, and the more frequently we read it, the clearer things become. When we stop short, we become short-sighted and our understanding is stunted.
EXECUTE | Judge Not? Or, Judge Correctly?
Let’s first apply ‘read on’. Here is the portion of Jesus’ sermon in context:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” – Matt. 7:1-5
Even after a cursory reading, it would seem that the intention is that we judge correctly, not that we would refrain from judging.
“Obviously, what Jesus condemned was the hypocritical judgment of those who held others to a higher standard than they themselves were willing to live by. He was certainly not suggesting that all judgment is forbidden. In fact, Jesus indicated that taking a speck out of your brother’s eye is the right thing to do—as long as you first get the log out of your own eye.” – John MacArthur
Overview on judging correctly.
“Jesus takes judgment very seriously. He is the righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8), who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). He does not judge by appearances, but judges with right judgment (John 7:24). Every judgment he pronounces issues from his core loving nature (1 John 4:8)… Therefore, when we judge, and Scripture instructs Christians to judge at times (1 Corinthians 5:12), we must take great care that our judgment, like Christ’s, is always charitable.” – Jon Bloom
Tips for judging correctly.
Tip 1: Remember the ‘Golden Rule.’
Judging would look entirely different if we would simply keep in mind the golden rule: “Do unto others…” In fact, this approach would remedy a number of things that ail us. Approach the situation with humility and judge in a way that you would want to be judged.
Tip 2: “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.”
The principles of the 6th Amendment provides a good framework for exercising judgement: be fair, don’t draw it out, or do it in secret. In other words, there should be due diligence in our due process.
“The first way to take great care how we judge is to be slow to pronounce guilt when evidence is scant or hearsay or ambiguous.” – Jon Bloom
Tip 3: Make Restoration the Goal.
Even if we judge correctly, there needs to be a purpose. Will you and the other party be better for it?
“When evidence does confirm that a transgression has occurred, a second way we take great care how we judge is to “aim for restoration” (2 Corinthians 13:11).” – Jon Bloom
Tip 4: Maybe Judgement Isn’t Necessary.
Does the situation require your involvement? How are you responsible if you are required to be involved? If you’re not required, don’t hover.
“If we’re not personally involved or are distant observers, we can still aim for the person’s restoration by, if possible, not saying anything. A wise rule of thumb: the greater our distance, the greater our ignorance.” – Jon Bloom
Tip 5: Be Ready to Receive Judgment.
Judgement goes both ways, so expect it, and be ready to receive it.
“Criticism is a fact of life and a powerful training tool when we understand how to put it to use.” – Diane Gottsman
Preparation includes being able to pluck out the truth from the feedback and determine to apply it accordingly. That may require you to have to sift through any emotions to capture those nuggets that God is intending to use to help you grow. And be sure to discard the rest.
Life requires that we are discerning, and in some cases, express our judgment. What is not necessary is that we are judgmental.