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August 20, 2007

“JUDGE NOT”

by Professor Robert J. Barth

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned. (Luke 6:37)

It has been said that when the particular behavior of another irritates us, it is often because we do the same or similar things. In other words, we are sensitized to the faults of others because (if we are willing to admit it) we have the same or similar weaknesses. For example, we may get upset with people who are generally late for meetings or appointments, but we have no problem making excuses for ourselves when we act the same way. Jesus addressed this self-centered and critical perspective by saying:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. (Luke 6:41-42)

The command “Judge Not” is one of the few commands of Jesus stated in the negative. This command was given in the context of the command “Give” to show the contrast between giving and judging. Giving encompasses the exhortation to love and to be accepting of other people. If we have a receptive attitude toward people, we will generally receive the blessing of being accepted and appreciated by others. If we love others with an open spirit and allow the light of Christ to shine through us, we will experience the life and joy of giving, regardless of their response. But if we are critical or judgmental of another, we stop or prevent the light of Jesus from shining through us.

A judgmental seed will grow and will bear the fruit of division, strife, self-consciousness, timidity, and self-condemnation. For example, we all know that the Bible commands a husband to love his wife (Ephesians 5:25) and that a wife should honor her husband (Ephesians 5:22, 33). We also know that a husband and wife are one, and that a husband is to treat his wife as his own body.

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Ephesians 5:28-31)

Based upon this truth, when a husband judges his wife he, in effect, judges himself because the two are one. A critical attitude of a husband toward his wife will result in the husband feeling judged. He will become oversensitive to the counsel or cautions of his wife and will view such help as being critical and judgmental.

The law of sowing and reaping works in the negative as well as the positive. If seeds of judgment and criticism are sown in a marriage, the fruit or harvest will be of the same nature. This negative dynamic between a husband and wife will result in distrust, competition, insecurity, and a lack of communication, which is exactly the opposite of God’s design for marriage.

Divisions in the church are also the “fruit” of judging others. All believers in Jesus Christ as the Messiah are “one body” and they are to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit.”

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Satan’s scheme is to divide and conquer. When there is division among believers the power and credibility of the church is diminished, and the “witness” for Christ is greatly damaged. When we judge others within the body, we are judging ourselves and “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:2). If we judge people in our heart, we sow the seeds for our own insecurity and self-condemnation. “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned” (Luke 6:37). When we manifest our judgment of others through words or actions, we “curse” the person rather than “bless” them. Remember, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (James 4:11-12)

In addition to the negative impact we cause to ourselves and to others by judging, the sin involved in judging others is rebellion against God and rejection of his authority. God works in the life of all believers to conform them into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). While we are told to encourage and exhort one another daily (Hebrews 3:13), we, as individuals, have no authority to put ourselves in the position of God and “judge” the value of another person because none of us are “without sin.” God made each of us for His pleasure and only He has the authority to judge.

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (John 8:7)

For thou hast created all things and for they pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. (Romans 2:1)

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? [speaking of man as God’s servant] to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

By judging others we effectively judge ourselves. Simply put, as individuals we have no authority to judge because we are also guilty of breaking the law of God.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:10-13)

In the kingdom of God, Jesus is the King, and only He has the authority to judge. We are to “Judge Not,” but we are to “Give.” The fruit we experience in our life depends on the seed sown. The fruit of giving to others with a cheerful and willing heart will be blessing. The fruit of judging others will be self-condemnation and judgment.

We are to give and judge not, but what do we do when others judge us? Jesus tells us to forgive. This command will be discussed in the next meditation.

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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