This series of blogs has been following the teachings of Jesus. Having covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (which can be seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now continuing with the additional teachings of which there are 83. The next of these additional teachings is ‘do not judge’.
There are many warnings throughout the gospels regarding judging others. Matthew 7:2 says For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
Stern warning. Do we really want the same measure of judgment that we cast out to others? How quickly we critique another when they do or say something that we don’t like. When they fail to meet our expectation. When we judge, we set ourselves above that other person. We, in fact, declare ‘I am better than you!’ ‘I would’ve done that better’ and we cast a judgment ‘you are inept’, ‘you are stupid’, ‘you are a failure’ – even if we only think these things without speaking them out – we are sitting in the seat of the magistrate. How we need to see that this is the polar opposite of how we need to be in the Kingdom of God.
Do we want to be condemned?
The term ‘you will be judged’ in the Strong’s is κριθήσεσθε (krithēsesthe) a Future Indicative Passive verb. In the Greek: to distinguish, i.e. to decide; by implication, to try, condemn, punish. Do we want to be condemned? Do we want to be punished?
Henry says – Our Saviour is here directing us how to conduct ourselves in reference to the faults of others.. we need to be aware of rigidity and severity of being magisterial and condescending. Jesus condemns those that are proud and conceited in justifying themselves.
Now observe, the prohibition; Judge not. We must judge ourselves, and judge our own acts, but we must not judge our brother. We must not magisterially assume such an authority over others. Just as we do not allow them to play the part of judge over us. Our rule is, to be subject to one another.
We must not sit in the judgment-seat
Let not many of us be masters, James. 3:1. We must not sit in the judgment-seat, to make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge our brother, that is, we must not speak evil of him, so it is explained, James. 4:11. We must not despise him, nor set him at nothing, Rom. 14:10. We ought not make the worst of people, nor infer such discriminatory things from their words and actions. We should not judge uncharitably or unmercifully.
As Christians, we must not judge of a man’s state by a single act. Nor of what he is in himself by what he is to us. We must not judge the hearts of others, nor their intentions, for it is God’s prerogative to try the heart, and we must not step into His throne. Nor must we judge of their eternal state, nor call them hypocrites, reprobates, and castaways; that is stretching beyond our line. He is God’s servant. How are we to judge another man’s servant? Counsel him, and help him, but do not judge him.
The reason to enforce this prohibition is that if we presume to judge others, we may expect to be ourselves judged. He who usurps the bench, shall be called to the bar.
The merciful shall find mercy
No mercy shall be shown to the reputation of those that show no mercy to the reputation of others. Yet that is not the worst of it; they shall be judged of God. From Him they shall receive the greater condemnation, James. 3:1. Both parties must appear before him (Rom. 14:10), who, as He will relieve the humble sufferer, will also resist the haughty scorner. If we be modest and charitable in our criticisms of others, and decline judging them, and judge ourselves rather, we shall not be judged of the Lord. As God will forgive those that forgive their brethren; so he will not judge those that will not judge their brethren. The merciful shall find mercy. It is an evidence of humility, charity, and deference to God, and shall be owned and rewarded by him accordingly. See Rom. 14:10.
The righteous God, in his judgments, often observes a rule of proportion, as in the case of Adonibezek, Jdg. 1:7. See also Rev. 13:10; 18:6. Thus will He be both justified and magnified in His judgments, and all flesh will be silenced before Him. With what measure you dish out, it shall be measured to you again; perhaps even in this world. That men may read their sin in their punishment. Let this deter us from all severity in dealing with our brother.
What would become of us?
What shall we do when God rises up? Job 31:14. What would become of us, if God should be as exact and severe in judging us, as we are in judging our brethren? If He should weigh us in the same balance? We may justly expect it, if we be extreme to mark what our brothers do amiss.
Because we must not judge others, which is a great sin. It does not, therefore, follow that we must not reprove others, which is a great duty and may be a means of saving a soul from death. However, it will be a means of saving our souls from sharing in their guilt.
Not everyone is fit to reprove
It is not everyone who is fit to reprove. Those who are themselves guilty of the same faults of which they accuse others, or of worse, bring shame upon themselves and are not likely to do good to those whom they reprove, Matt. 7:3-5.
Those who quarrel with their brother for small faults, while they allow themselves in great ones. They who are quick-sighted to spy a splinter in their brother’s eye, but are apathetic to the beam in their own.
There are degrees in sin: some sins are comparatively but as a splinter, others as beams. Some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there is any sin little, for there is no little God to sin against. If it be splinter it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat. Both painful and perilous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out. Our own sins ought to appear greater to us than the same sins in others.
True repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own eyes. The sins of others must be lessened, but our own aggravated. There are many that have beams in their own eyes, and yet do not consider them. They are under the guilt and dominion of very great sins, and yet are not aware of it. They may justify themselves, as if they needed no repentance. It is as strange that a man can be in such a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it.
The fault you see in others, be discovered in yourself
But the god of this world (the devil) so artfully blinds their minds. Though they think they see. It is common for those who are most sinful themselves, to be the most forward and free in judging and criticising others. ‘Cogita tecum, fortasse vitium de quo quereris, si te diligenter excusseris, in sinu invenies; inique publico irasceris crimini tuo’ — ‘Reflect that perhaps the fault of which you complain, might, on a strict examination, be discovered in yourself; and that it would be unjust publicly to express indignation against your own crime’, by Seneca, de Beneficiis.
Spiritual charity must begin at home; “For how can you say to thy brother, Let me help to reform you, when you take no care to reform yourself? The consideration of what is amiss in ourselves, though it ought to not keep us from administering friendly reproof, ought to keep us from magisterial criticizing, and to make us very candid and charitable in judging others. “Therefore restore with the spirit of meekness, considering yourself (Gal. 6:1). What you have been, what you are, and what you would be, if God would leave you to yourself.”
Here is a good rule for reprovers, Matt. 7:5. Go in the right method, first cast the beam out of your own eye. I must first reform myself, that I may help to reform my brother, and may qualify myself to reprove him. Those who blame others, ought to be blameless and harmless themselves. The snuffers of the sanctuary were to be of pure gold.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Who are you to judge another’s servant (Romans 14:4) What presumption on our part to judge the Lord’s servant He who is responsible to Him alone! It is not for us to act as Lord of the Saints Working out some solution of our own. No we must not act as though God cannot get on Without our help to put them right. We did not dare to die for them; Those who are so precious in His sight. Let me then be patient with them Even as God has been patient with me. How dare I try to regulate other people’s lives When I cannot see as He sees. For after all I trust the working Of His Spirit in my heart. Shall I not equally trust Him to work In my brother’s heart? By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, forgive me for every critical word I have spoken against another. Forgive me for sitting in the judgement seat. By Your Spirit help me from this moment on to deal with my own faults and overlook those of another. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
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