Oft-quoted but Seldom Understood

Who are you to judge? The most abused verse in the Bible may be “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1 ESV). Even people who kimgres-1now next to nothing of Scripture spew this verse as a quip aimed to terminate discussion. We rarely hear this verse taught in context. What usually happens is instead a person is failing to make a cogent and/or coherent argument for his position. He does not want to offend or seem hateful. He wants to be tolerant of even the most inane people or ideas. He wants to be loving and respectful. And this one verse surfaces like a reflex. It is viewed as a way of assuaging one’s own conscience and mollifying those with whom you disagree. It is used as a kinder and gentler way of saying, “Well, I wouldn’t live my life that way, but it’s not really for me to say the other person is wrong.”

 

This one verse, decontextualized, is a specious quote cloaking flawed logic in the guise of love. After it’s quoted, the unspoken assumption is that everyone is supposed to sit back, shake his head, and agree to disagree. The desired result of many who rip this verse from its larger context is a sentimental, “I’m okay; you’re okay.”

 

May I suggest two things? One, Jesus did not condemn judging. He condemned sanctimoniousness. He condemned us when we neglect judging ourselves with right judgment. In the same discourse, Jesus commands us to judge: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15 ESV). Second, if you or I cease to judge, we cease to think. Solipsism and insanity result.

 

Narrow versus broad? Yes. False prophets? Yes. Ravenous wolves? Yes. How do we know? By judging with right judgment. Jesus also taught, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24 ESV). When’s the last time you heard that verse? Judging is commanded and commended.

 

Judging is unavoidable for rational creatures. You judge whom to befriend; you judge whom to marry; you judge your children’s character and behavior (character’s extension); you judge in politics. “Open your mouth, judge righteously” (Proverbs 31:9a ESV). Failing to judge is the end of rationality. Judge rightly.

2 thoughts on “Oft-quoted but Seldom Understood

  1. Thank you for this great post. I remember trying to warn an acquaintance about false teaching while at the grocery store and her reply was focus on love not on doctrine. This is a serious problem with many who claim to be Christian. They don’t want to live by the Scriptures, they want to live by what they think the Scriptures say. Jesus Christ calls us to be faithful to Him and live according to His Word. Amen!

    22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. John 14:22-23

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s