Archive for September 2015

To Judge or not to Judge

Only God can Judge

Do not Judge

by

Jose de Carvalho

‘God Himself doesn’t judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?’ How often have you seen this? Is it true? What does Jesus mean that we are not to judge others? (Matt 7:1) Many people use this verse as an attempt to silence/intimidate their critics.

The statement is actually not true, biblical history is replete with God judging His chosen and others in His interaction with human kind thought-out history. What does Jesus mean that we are not to judge others?

I find this comment from a Bible commentator interesting; ‘Jesus’ command not to judge others could be the most widely quoted of His sayings’.

Subsequent to reflection I have to agree! Considering that non-Christians also use the saying and quote the biblical verse as some sort of a proverb, meaning in the secular context; ‘the truth is relative.’

Many others claim that this is one of the most misquoted verses in the New Testament. This is an indication of how a non-biblical worldview influences biblical interpretation (ethical relativism that denies the existence of moral absolutes).

What did Jesus mean? Did he mean that we must never voice an adverse or unfavorable opinion? He certainly does not prohibit negative assessments, considering that Jesus has given us permission to tell right from wrong later on in the following verse and chapters (see vv.7, 15-16; 10:11-15; 16:6, 12; 18:17-18).

Whatever the case merits, what is certain is that Jesus is expecting merciful judgment, and if you judge without mercy, you will be judged without mercy (v.2). The immediate context also cautions that one should not judge others more harshly or by a different standard than one judge oneself.  ‘Lest you be judged’ does not mean you will not be judged by God if you do not judge.  The principle is that if you are judging, while you yourself are guilty, you are condemning yourself (see parallels 6:14-15; 18:32-35). Therefore make a more charitable judgment of your brother.

Another commentator stated, ‘to be discriminating and critical is necessary; to be hypercritical or a hypocrite is wrong’ which the immediate context of Jesus’ teaching (vv. 3-5).

The same original commentator then rightly concludes:

Anything that contradicts the truth is a lie—but, of course, to call something a “lie” is to pass judgment. For example to call fornication a sin is to likewise pass judgment—but it’s also to agree with God. When Jesus said not to judge others, He did not mean that no one can identify sin for what it is, based on God’s definition of sin.

So, it appears that we have a standard to evaluate after all. Not that this is going to convince those that deny the existence of moral absolutes. For others at this point of the interaction the common saying that God is a loving God (unconditional) card is played.

However in this context this comment just displays a lack of understanding of God character. So, what does it mean that God is love?

Love is one of the attributes of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony.

Love and Truth