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How to Judge Others


A party of suppliers was being given a tour of a mental hospital.

One of the visitors had made some very insulting remarks about the patients.

After the tour the visitors were introduced to various members of staff in the canteen.

The rude visitor chatted to one of the security staff, Bill, a kindly and wise ex-policeman.

“Are they all raving loonies in here then?” said the rude man.

“Only the ones who fail the test,” said Bill.

“What’s the test?” said the man.

“Well, we show them a bath full of water, a bucket, a jug and an tea-cup, and we ask them

what’s the quickest way to empty the bath,” said Bill.

“Oh I see, simple – the normal ones know it’s the bucket, right?”

“No actually,” said Bill, “The normal ones say pull out the plug.

Should I check when there’s a bed free for you?”

******

 As we continue on through the Sermon on the Mount, we find two verses at the beginning of chapter 7 where Jesus speaks of two hard hitting subjects that most of us deal with everyday.  In fact, two often quoted phrases come from this section of his sermon.  Do these sound familiar?

  • Don’t judge lest ye be judged….Matthew 7:1
  • Don’t throw your pearls before swine…Matthew 7:6

In fact, I hear these phrases quite often, and not always from “religious” people.  The first one is probably the most used, and most often the wrong way.  I frequently hear people use this to defend something they’re doing that is not appropriate.  I usually hear the second one when someone is talking about giving things, donations, to the needy…in being careful how you give items or cash out of compassion.  That is closer to the basis of what Jesus was getting at when he addressed the crowd on the hillside.

Let me just come right out and let you know what I take from these two verses.  Number one, be careful how you judge, critique or give your opinion about another person.  Number two, use discernment when trying to help someone with the blessings you already have.

This is Ed talking here.  I’m making an assumption…so if you don’t agree…it’s ok.  From where I stand, Jesus is talking to people whom he is assuming believe in Him and may be somewhat eager to follow His ways.  Many of them are probably devout Jews, understanding the ways of the Old Testament or, as they would call it, the Law of Moses.  So what they are going to hear him say is probably somewhat familiar from the Proverbs they’ve learned all their lives.  Jesus, at this point in time, begins to discuss a couple of ideals when dealing with other people.  My second assumption is this.  There are some religious leaders in the crowd that aren’t there to learn but to find out about this Jesus and how they can possibly catch him doing something wrong.  Calling out two subjects near and dear to these leader’s hearts (Pharisees and Sadducees), judging and ‘turn or burn’ preaching, probably have their ears turning red.

Here are the basics.  When you meet, talk to, or talk about someone, don’t judge them based on what you think is wrong with them…because all of us have sin.  Don’t call them “bad” simply because of what you know or assume to be true.  Guess what?  If you can call them bad, they can turn right around and do the same to you.  “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judge…” is how Jesus said it.  We are all sinners.  Focus on your own sin.  Get right with God.  Then, in a God like manner, go to the other person in an attitude that would match the attitude of Jesus.  Oh, and when you go to help that other person…don’t throw everything out to them in a way that we might describe as ‘Bible thumping.’  You’ve gotten yourself in a right attitude, now discern how best to help that other person.  Did you catch that…through these verses, it seems that Jesus is assuming that we are wanting to help the other person out of sin.  Statements of judgment with no intention of helping the other person aren’t even on the radar screen.  My presumption is that this type of judgment is also completely wrong.  The goal is to lead people to Heaven, not push them into Hell.

One verse that I’ve engrained on the inside of my heart is this, “The darkness has not understood the light (John 1:5).”  Translation:  People who don’t get it…probably won’t get it…yet.  The risk is that you’ll look preachy or that you’re talking from a pedestal.   They could become offended in some way and turn their heart away from God without even getting to know the real Him.  From His point of view, that’s a huge risk.  Remember how Jesus approached people who needed a 180 in their life.  He asked the blind man if he wanted to see.  He asked the lady at the well, who expected him to be racist, if she wanted water that would last forever.  He went out of his way to heal and to raise the dead.  When dealing with people who needed to see Him and all He was about, His approach was completely not from a place of authority…even though all authority was rightfully His.  He came into their life as a potential friend.  He didn’t even come across as judgmental.  In fact, after many of his healings, he would say these words, “Go and sin no more.”

Now, to clarify.  To those who were acting strategically and mindfully against Him, He did not mince words.  And again, He had all rights to ‘call them out.’  Remember when Peter was questioning Him in Matthew 16:23?  Jesus addressed His adversary, Satan.  Peter wasn’t working against Jesus…therefore judgment on Peter’s questioning was given to the devil…not Peter.  The Pharisees and Sadducess were actively working against Him and strategically trying to keep people, His creation, away from Him.  It was here that He, as one with the authority, placed judgment.

His approach to humanity was from a place and attitude of love rather than accusation.  John 3:16-17 states this rather plainly.  He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world.  The world is already in a condemned position.  We are in sin…presently…if we don’t have Christ.  He just needs us to become aware of where we are and where we can be if we jump into his love.  And, if we are a follower of him, then that means that we are to do the same with the people around us.  We are to do it also in the same attitude and approach.

It is so easy to pass judgment on people though, isn’t it?  It’s so easy to think or talk about people in a way that we’re making them out to be bad or evil…before we’ve even talked to them or found out their own story.  Are there people who do evil things?  Are there people who have a pattern of evil words, thoughts and leadership?  Yes.  Their speech and behavior is evil.  But only God knows their heart.  Only He knows if the stuff we call evil is forgivable through the blood of His son Jesus.  Is this tough stuff?  Yes.  But is it worth struggling through it and trying to get better?  Yes.  Why?  Because we have the opportunity to look more like Jesus in the end.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Has anyone ever verbally passed judgment on you?  How did it feel?  Even if their assessment of your actions or words or thoughts were true…did it “help” you?
  • Assuming that you did do something wrong to bring their judgment, how could their approach have helped the situation?
  • Have you ever passed judgment on someone else without even talking to them?  Knowing what you now know about this verse of scripture, how does that make you feel?
  • Is there someone that you’ve passed judgment on that needs an apology?  How are you going to go about that?
  • On a scale of 1-10…10 being strong…how would you rate your discernment ability?  By this I mean how well you can hear God saying, “Say this to them…not this.  Ask them this question…not that question.”
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  1. Fred Balding
    September 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Good blog today, Ed.

    You are kee-reckt, sir!

    Jesus is NOT telling us not to judge in the evaluative sense – like the judges at a county fair who “judge” who gets the green, red or blue ribbon at a baked goods contest. He’s telling us not to judge in the adjudicated sense – like the “judge” whose responsibility it is to pass sentence on a lawbreaker. The latter is the sense that many people get when they read these words, but they mis-apply its meaning in Jesus’ words to say, “don’t you say a word about whether what I am doing is right or wrong.”

    Jesus is merely saying that, by the same criteria we use to evaluate and admonish (when called for) the behavior and actions of others – and (perhaps) with the same attitude we use – so we will be “judged.”

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