10 Misconceptions About Jesus: #3 – Jesus would never judge anyone

In 10 Misonceptions About Jesus: #2: We discovered that Jesus is not as He was. He is not hanging out with the poor, healing people, and giving non-judgmental Bible studies on the highways and byways of heaven. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, in glory, ruling the universe.

This next misconception is probably my biggest pet peeve.

All over our nation, during TV shows or talk radio, during man-on-the-street interviews, or even casual conversations at the local coffee shop, one Biblical misconception is universally trumpeted: Jesus would never judge anyone and therefore you should not either.

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

 

Wrong.

I most often hear the ‘don’t judge anyone principle’ by people who have never read the scripture. It’s usually hearsay, akin to such statements as: “God helps those who help themselves.” This statement, sometimes attributed to the Bible, is actually from Ben Franklin.

From where does this ‘don’t judge anyone principle’ come? Here’s the most commonly cited passage:

“Do not judge” Matthew 5:7 CSB

It’s straightforward.
It’s clear.
In the Koine Greek it’s an imperative.

There should be no arguments, right? Except that the easiest way to get anyone to say what you want is to quote them out of context.

Jesus never said this as an independent clause. It’s always quoted out of context.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that I declared this:

“I hate exercise” Nathan Morales

IMG_20130426_094903

You might think that I hate exercise. Of course you would think that, because all you have is this statement and no context. But what if this was my full statement:

“I hate exercise because it can be tedious. The long-term benefits, however, are profound. As a result, I exercise at least five hours a week. I also find a way to mix it up so that it’s not so tedious” Nathan Morales

Notice that once the context is considered, it actually says the opposite. Yes, I don’t really like exercising, but my full statement communicates that, though it’s difficult, I actually end up liking it because of its benefits.

Here is the context of Jesus’ statement:

Do not judge so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 HCB

The full context makes it quite clear. He’s not saying that we should never judge, He’s saying that we are not to be hypocritical judges. The last statement even says that we are allowed to notice the speck in our brother’s eye, so long as we don’t have a plank in ours.

Moreover, a true Biblical principle should be based on a systematic theology, not an isolated verse.

Look at what else the scripture says about judging.

“Do you not judge those who are within the church?” 1 Corinthians 5:12 NIV

“Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.” John 7:24 HCB

“And they must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons.” 1 Timothy 3:10 HCB

This is just a smattering. There are more.

We are allowed—no encouraged—to judge, show discernment, and hold our own people accountable to an objective standard of morality, so long as we do it fairly, with wisdom, and with love.

Ah, but that’s not the real reason Matthew 7:1 is quoted.

What people really want it to mean is this:
Don’t hold me accountable for my actions
Don’t suggest that there are moral absolutes
Don’t you dare tell me my lifestyle is not pleasing to God

gospelgeeks.net

It reminds me of Judges 21:25

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” NAS

Wow, there’s even a book called Judges? Yup.

Here’s why the ‘No one should judge another person’ principle cannot and does not work:

First, as we have discovered, it’s not Biblical the way it is trumpeted. Certainly, we ought to be wise and righteous judges, but there must be accountability.

Second, the statement ‘No one should judge another person’ is a self-defeating statement. It’s about as logical as ‘There are no absolutes?’

Really! Are you absolutely sure?

If no one should judge another, why aren’t the people who judge judgmental people, judged for their judgment? To be intellectually honest, the principle should really be said like this:

“No one should judge another, unless that person is being judgmental. In that case, it’s not only okay to judge, it’s encouraged.”

Wait a minute, if you are allowed judge someone who is being judgmental, haven’t you, also, fallen into judgment.

I take it back. I don’t think I can make it work after all.

Third, judgment is intuitive and necessary. Are you telling me that I shouldn’t make a judgment in the following case?

My seventeen year old daughter’s date shows up to meet me, the father. As he drives up, I’m in the back room cleaning my guns. Against what is generally considered respectful, he parks in my driveway.  He steps out of his dirty and cluttered car, and lumbers to the front door with a cocky gait. He’s covered with multiple tattoos and piercings.

gospelgeeks.net

His tattered skinny jeans sag, revealing his black boxer briefs. The aroma of cheap cigarettes follows him as he goes. He knocks on my door with a sigh. He wonders why such antiquated protocols still exits. Why does he need to meet her parents, he wonders. They must be religious or something.

After meeting him, I discover that his teen-speak is littered with constant phrases as ‘dude’ and ‘sweet.’ He doesn’t seem to want to shake my hand or make eye contact. He also had no ability to find enough common ground to hold a conversation. He hates school, does not have a job, and, as a seventeen year old, has no career goals whatsoever.

Are you going to let this young man take your daughter into his care for the night?

My answer, of course, is holy hell no!

Why not? I must be a judgmental bigot!

Maybe he’s poor and cannot afford a nice car. Maybe his father is a tattoo artist and his tats are just an expression of artistic freedom. Maybe he’s holding out for a management position. Maybe he doesn’t believe in traditional education. Maybe he’s trying to quit smoking, but it’s a family practice that was foisted upon him as a child. Maybe he was just nervous. Maybe he didn’t know the ‘no parking in someone’s driveway’ protocol.

Nope.

Christians ought to be righteous judges–that is, we discern with wisdom, we uphold objective standards of morality, and we hold our own people accountable.

Finally, no matter what we do, it must be done with love and kindness.

Westboro Baptist members need not apply. Oh wait, did I just judge?

10 Misconceptions about Jesus #1: Jesus’ appearance
10 Misconceptions about Jesus #2: Jesus is the same as He was
10 Misconceptions about Jesus #3: Jesus would never judge anyone
10 Misconceptions about Jesus #4: Jesus was a carpenter
10 Misconceptions about Jesus #5: Jesus was pierced through His hands

 

Comments

  1. Pete Kelso says:

    In my judgement you did a righteous job on the judgement issue. So funny! I always hear the argument about not judging other people. Another one of my favorites is the word discrimination and how it is impossible for one group of people to be guilty of discrimination over another group. Like blacks could never be guilty of racism as racism is a white on everybody else crime. Besides, I have discriminating taste in the food I eat and the people I associate with. Discrimination and judging are part of discernment and discernment is perception. Are we not allowed to perceive good and evil, right and wrong? Must we abandon commen sense under the guise of political correctness so as not to hurt someone’s feelings?

  2. Paul Morrison says:

    Dude, this blog was sweet!

  3. Finally, logic does still exist!

  4. Theres a difference between JUDGING and lovingly REBUKING using God and Jesus’ word to try and correct someones thinking or feelings if they are wayward and are not upright according to God and if the person is not walking with the Lord in spirit as they should be. Jesus did not use the eye and beam and speck parable or metaphor to tell us that we can judge only we must judge righteously.

    He used that parable and metaphor to explain to us we CANNOT EVER judge righteously because “all have fallen short of the Glory of God.” In other words ALL sin and ALL fall and fail to be perfect. NONE are perfect enough to judge. Thats what the beam in our own eye is talking about. We have a beam if we try to judge our brother for a speck. Jesus even further reiterates this point when the story of the prostitute and the Pharisees and people who want to stone her comes up.

    They all want to kill her according to the Law and JUDGE her as a prostitute and filthy to stone her to death. They ask Jesus himself what they should do. He calmly tells them “let he who is WITHOUT SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE.” And they all walk away and leave KNOWING they CANNOT judge because they are ALL with sin or have sinned at some point in their life and they are not perfect.

    We CANNOT judge as we are lowly humans while Christ is perfect and without sin as is God ours and his heavenly father. Only GOD can judge. And only Jesus COULD judge. He could have throne the stone at her but then he would have committed murder and broke the commandment of “thou shalt not kill” and then would be with sin for harming another human and taking a life.

    Also he DIDNT judge her and stone her because he was ABOVE such petty thinking as he is Gods SON and holy and right and walks with the Lord in perfection without sin. There is a reason there is a passage in the Bible that says “JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED” and “VENGEANCE IS MINE SAYETH THE LORD.” Jesus came to FULFILL the law so that all who come to him and believed in him could be SAVED AND CLEANSED of their sin and RECONCILED with God the heavenly Father. So they could be WITHOUT sin so long as they had faith, repented, and as Jesus told the prostitute: “I will not condemn thee either. Go forth and SIN NO MORE.”

    Telling her to stop her prositute ways I can see how its confusing for you but those are the facts as revealed through scripture and Jesus’ words and ministry and the whole point of why he came down. He said REPENT and GO FORTH AND SIN NO MORE. And DO NOT JUDGE. Because him dying on the cross for ALL SINNERS is the whole point of why he came so we could all be with God the father in heaven if we but repent and believe and walk upright with the Lord in spirit and the Holy Spirit. If Jesus couldnt do that for us and make it so we no longer needed to live according to the Law of the OT (stoning people and killing them for their crimes against God and man) then wasnt Jesus’ sacrifice and death IN VAIN???

    God forbid. Jesus did not die in vain. He died for ALL of us so we could die and be with God and him in heaven. Anything MORE than that doctrine taught (even if its in the Bible and in the NT) invalidates his life, ministry, death, resurrection, and need for the Holy Spirit and that itself is blasphemous to believe in. Jesus died a perfect life as the ultimate sin sacrificial offering so we could be WITHOUT BLAME FREE OF SIN in our repentance and coming to God in prayer so we are covered by the Holy and PERFECT blood of the Lamb. Jesus is that Lamb.

    So go forth, repent, pray, have faith in him and what he did for you, DO NOT judge others for GOD will hold them accountable of themselves before him and GOD will judge. Not us humans.

    But yes while Jesus did not judge in life (for he came to SAVE mens lives not destroy them but to offer his life up for them and teach them) he WILL judge in the end times when he comes back according to who has faith in him and has confessed him and loved him and God and are righteous and upright… and those who have not, did not, and are not but are wicked and unbelieving. ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE. And he will… but when he is good and ready to come back and do it. 😀

    God bless. 😉

    • The problem I see with this logic is that your examples of acceptable judgement are not the same type of judgement that people typically mean when they quote Matthew 7:1-5. Much like the word “carpenter”, the word “judge” has multiple meanings. For example, “judgement” may refer to the decision or verdict issued for a case in court (“the court issued a judgement in the murder case”), an opinion about an object or subject (“in my judgement, red cars are prettier than white cars”), making a decision based on the best available information (“deciding to go out without an umbrella despite the storm clouds the horizon was a poor judgement call”) or a moral/ethical condemnation (“You’re wearing fur? I’m so judging you right now*.”). I believe it’s reasonable to assume that the type of judgement being discussed here is the moral condemnation variety. One may condemn actions (“Billy, don’t hit your sister; hitting is wrong”) or people (“Billy, you hit your sister. You are a bad person and you’re going to hell”).

      When people say “judge not,” they are usually not trying to imply that no one should form opinions or that courts should not issue verdicts, nor are they suggesting that no one should have opinions on whether an action (e.g. hitting your sister) is morally objectionable. In my experience, the argument tends to refer to condemning a person or group of people. Examples may include the argument “you are entitled to believe that sex between two men is sinful, but it is not your place to condemn gay men to hell”.

      In your example of a scruffy ne’er-do-well trying to date your daughter, do you judge the young man to be inherently unrighteous, immoral, or generally a Bad Person, or are you using context clues (disrespectful behavior, cigarette smell, etc) to make a judgement call regarding his likely future behavior with your daughter, and deciding that that likely future behavior is unacceptable? The difference matters.

      In essence, I think we can agree that it would be disingenuous to argue that Matthew 7:1-5 pertains to making judgement calls about the weather, which car color is the prettiest, or whether it’s a good idea to allow your teenaged daughter to date loutish youth. It’s similarly disingenuous to argue that people quoting the scripture are generally referring to those types of judgement.

  5. To complement Gabe’s comment, the greek word in Matthew 7:1 is Krinete, from verb Krino. See alternative meanings here https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/κρίνω.

    Interesting to note first meaning: to separate. In this sense, it becomes clear what part of “judging” is not Love.

Trackbacks

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