“1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” Matthew 7:1-2 KJV
And with these words a lot of people in the world want to “throw the baby out with the bath water” (a euphemism for inadvertently getting rid of the good thing while disposing of the bad thing). And by this I mean that the complete lack of understanding of judgement is astounding these days. And the lack of understanding basically comes from bad Theology. Both Theology that has been taught, and Theology that has failed to have been taught. From our greatest theologians, to our humblest of Bible study teachers, we’ve failed. We’ve failed at the basics, and we’ve certainly failed at setting people off on a path that would allow them to seek after a Holy God with all their heart, and all their soul, and all their might.
And that small word judge has a lot to do with it. That word judge there, in the Greek it is the word κρίνετε (pronounced: krinete). Now that we’ve all learned our Greek word for the day, let me ask you what you think the definition of krinete is? A Greek language purist will tell you that properly, it is “to pick out, (choose) by separating”. In other words, the
The word actually means judge, just as we understand judgement today. The same definition we apply to the word today would apply to the word that Jesus Christ actually used as recorded by Scripture.
So the Bible (actually the very words of Jesus Christ himself) state quite unequivocally that we should not judge (because by the same measure we judge, we will be judged). Right? That is what it says, isn’t it?
But wait-a-minute, do you really believe we are not to judge? Should we really (and truly) not use judgement in our lives? Doesn’t Scripture also tell us:
“13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14 KJV
See that word discern? Our discernment is what allows us to be discriminatory. And I will argue that you cannot discern, without the application of judgement. And I’d argue that discernment is a pretty important thing within our lives. It allows us to separate good and evil. And that would seem like a pretty good thing to me.
Seemingly we have a contradiction here. On the one hand we are told not to judge, but yet on the other we know we are to use our good judgement to discern between good and evil. There are those right now that are going to try to separate those two entities by applying judgement to people and discernment to actions. Don’t even try. People without actions are dead, and actions without people is Nature. You can’t separate the two (unless you are God, that is) so let’s not play word games by pretending that we can really and truly separate them in our hearts and minds. That leads us to silly quotes like “God hates the sin but loves the sinner“. And while there may be a kernel of truth to this, it really is putting words into God’s mouth. We are not God, and we cannot compartment our hate and our love. God must do that for us and we should not believe that it is perfected within our lives.
So what is the answer then? What is Jesus really telling us? And why would Scripture tell us not to judge (really judge) and then tell us to judge (really judge)? Especially when we know (beyond any shadow of a doubt) that we need to judge in our everyday lives. How could our courts, our Government, our business, our very society survive without judgement? How do we survive without judgement?
Fortunately these words are from Jesus. And that means they are recorded in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). And fortunately Luke recalled perhaps a more complete account of the time than Matthew might have. Here is how Luke recorded the same event that Matthew is relating to us:
“37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:37-38 KJV
Luke adds in a couple of extra thoughts here. First of all he tells us that the judgment being talked about here is the kind that condemns. In other words, Luke has qualified for us that we should not use our judgement to punish, convict, censure, or pronounce unfit for society, those around us. And Luke adds in a second thought here, and that is we should forgive instead of condemn. In other words we should grant pardon to those that offend us.
Scripture clearly tells us that we are to use our good judgment. But it also tells us that we should not use our judgement to condemn those in the world today. Condemnation does not win people. Forgiveness is what wins another’s heart. And Scripture tells us why we are to act this way:
It is found right there in the second half of the statement. Because by the same measure that we judge or forgive people, that is what will be reciprocated in kind. In other words, if I am judgmental and condemning to you, that is exactly how you are going to respond to me. Try it. Tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do. Won’t they usually do just the opposite? If we are forgiving and do not condemn however, we are much more likely to find an open heart and a listening ear.
My prayer today is that we all would use good judgment in our lives, and recognize that means a little more forgiveness towards others and a little less condemnation.