Is It Right to Judge?
How many times have you heard someone whine, "Judge not, that ye be not judged?" This verse of Scripture from Matthew 7:1 is often quoted out of context by people who are terrified at the idea of someone preaching against sin or pointing out any form of error in anyone, especially in themselves.
As I stood in a voting line one day I overheard a woman justifying her foolish choice for president by saying, "Well, we aren't supposed to judge." Imagine that! Choosing NOT to judge a political candidate on election day! No wonder our nation is in such a mess!
As for Matthew 7:1, the context (verses 1-5) allows judging after you have first judged YOURSELF. Jesus did not make a blanket statement against judgment. He simply pointed out a RULE for judging.
Now, the word "judge" in its various forms (judgeth, judging, judgment, judges, etc) is found over 700 times in God's word. One whole book of the Bible is titled "Judges" for it was written at a time when God raised up judges to lead His people.
As we are about to see, God EXPECTS His people to judge. In fact, you are sinning against God if you refuse to judge! (Read that again, please)
God Expects Us to Judge
"The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment." (Psa. 37:30) A righteous person will talk of judgment. He will not REFUSE to judge. He will talk judgment.
"Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph." (Amos 5:14-15) How can you hate the evil and love the good if you refuse to judge? You can't. You are SINNING when you refuse to judge.
Our generation is well described in Isaiah 59:8: "The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace." People have refused to judge, so there is no peace.
Paul said in I Corinthians 1:10 to ". . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Why would Paul make such a statement if judging is wrong? In I Corinthians 2:15 Paul says, "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." Judging is not a sin; judging is a characteristic of being a spiritual person! Satan has been lying to us, hoping that we will NOT judge, because he knows that the right kind of judgment PLEASES God and betters our lives and Christian service.
Someone says, "But should we judge PEOPLE?" Yes, we certainly should. Paul actually REBUKES the Corinthians for NOT judging: "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?" (I Cor. 6:1-5) If judging is wrong, then Paul needs to confess and repent for misleading these Christians! He clearly told them to JUDGE PEOPLE.
If judging people is wrong, how can we obey Romans 16:17-18? II Corinthians 6:17? II Timothy 3:5-6? I John 4:1? Friend, if judging is wrong, then God has contradicted Himself and His words cannot be trusted!
Notice Malachi 3:18: "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." WOW! Does that sound like it is wrong to judge?
What about Revelation 2:2? " I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:" Why would the Lord be pleased with these Christians if judging was wrong? Is it not impossible to find someone a "liar" without judging them?
If the Bible is clear about anything, it is clear about the importance of judging on a regular basis in order to properly serve and honor God. To ignore this fact is to ignore all of the Scripture just presented and also the rest of the Bible. God expects us to judge.
God's Rules for Judging
Now I do not wish to imply that we should spend all of our time judging. Sometimes people judge when they have no business doing so. In John 7:24 Jesus tells us to judge RIGHTEOUS judgment. This can only be done by following the rules that God has established in His word. Here follow seven good rules from Scripture:
Isaiah 8:20 says, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Our standard is God's word, not our feelings, our traditions, or our opinions. Right and wrong should always be determined by God's word.
Don't Judge When God's Word Is Silent
If God's word is silent about a subject, then you may not have to judge at all. Don't rush to judgment on an issue when the Bible says very little or is silent about it. Don't make more of a matter than God makes of it. A good example of this is found in Colossians 2:16: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:" That is, these are not subjects of great importance today, so let's not make these great issues of judgment.
Pray for Good Judgement Ability
When Solomon received his kingdom he asked God to "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" (I Kings 3:9) James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." We should pray for good judgment ability.
Don't Respect Persons
Proverbs 24:23 says, "These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment." Treat all parties fairly without favoring anyone, such as family members or friends. A truly fair judge is blind and deaf to any outer influence. (Isa. 42:1, 19-21)
Judge in Truth
Do not judge another when you do not have all the relevant facts. Jeremiah 5:1 says, "Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it." A true judge is one who seeks the truth. If you must judge, be sure and get all the facts. A Japanese proverb says to "search seven times before you judge."
Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:2: "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." You'll reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7-8). If you are swift and harsh in judging others, then God will see to it that you receive the same from others. Has God not been very merciful to you, even though you deserved it not? Likewise, you should exercise mercy toward others.
Don't Forget to Judge Yourself
I Corinthians 11:30-31: "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." If you are a true Christian, then you belong to God. You are God's child. If you refuse to judge and improve yourself as a child of God, then God will take it upon Himself to judge you. Many of the troubles that we face in life are nothing more than God's way of judging us since we often neglect to judge ourselves.
Wouldn't it be amazing if every Christian actually took time to judge themselves before judging anyone else? In Matthew 7:4-5, Jesus says, " Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." A good judge will not fail to judge himself.
Copyright © 1999 James L. Melton
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