Thursday, March 13, 2008

How Not to Judge

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged". Matthew 7:1

A presidential candidate recently used this Bible verse to support his stance on a social issue. This verse is probably one of the most quoted out of context, misunderstood and misapplied verses.

In Romans, the "Do Not Judge" idea is repeated and expanded:

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Romans 2:1-4

The "therefore" in the verse 1 was referring to the previous verses, where the Apostle Paul was saying how NO ONE was righteous, therefore we shouldn't judge others.

So what should we do? Eliminate the whole judicial system? Keep quiet when we see the wrongs in the world? Tolerate, accept and approve all behaviors?

As Christians, the Holy Spirit in us enable us to discern what's right and wrong according to God, not man. And this is a good thing. However, what are in our hearts, what are our attitudes when we recognize sins in others? Do we:

• Feel great about ourselves because we don't/think we don't commit the same sin?
• Feel superior? Prideful?
• Have a sense of self-righteousness?
• Extend condemnation instead of compassion?

What we should be doing instead:
• Be humble and recognize that it's ONLY through God's grace and mercy that we can be free from any sin.
• Recognize that we too are sinners, not better than them.
• Be thankful for God's "kindness, tolerance and patience," Romans 2:4
• Be compassionate. Serve, minister and pray instead of condemn.
• Grief for their sins, and ours.
• Repent our own sins.

One of the impressions many has of Christians are that we are all too eager to wag our fingers at what others do. Unfortunately, it's true for many Christians, both true and self-proclaimed ones. I, too, have done this. When we are prideful and self-righteous, we are much less effective in ministering and being a light for God. Not to mention "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:2.

Now go read your Bible again, Mr. Presidential Candidate.

No comments: