JUDGE NOT – Part 2

Read: Luke 6:39-42

Some things bear repeating. And some things must be heard on several occasions for the truth to settle into our hearts. So I am reminding you as I remind myself that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is life-changing! In fact, if we are truly Christ-followers, then we have been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (COL 1:13-14). And if we are in His Kingdom, we are called to be obedient citizens. We need to know where we are living and how the King wants us to live! 

Last week I noted that King Jesus calls us to eliminate “judging” from our relationships. You may recall that the phrase “do not judge” is a command to not engage in criticisms of other people that have no moral basis. However, a clarification is necessary. Some people take our Lord’s command to “not judge” to mean that we should never pass judgment on any type of thought or behavior. The common rejoinder is, “Let people do whatever they want to do. We have no right to judge. After all, Jesus said, ‘Judge not!’” 

Such statements are incorrect and verge on being heretical! Here’s why: Jesus never said that we were never to pass judgment on people or ideas. In fact, in Matthew 7:16-20 the Messiah tells His followers to carefully evaluate (“judge”) the lessons and behaviors of false teachers, so as to avoid following them on a path toward spiritual destruction. There is a place for discernment and passing judgment on what is purported to be "truth." However, it is an uncensored critical spirit that Jesus wants His followers to eliminate from their lives.

But criticism seems so natural, doesn't it? Newspapers have allotted space for us to voice our opinions on a wide variety of ideas. Radio and TV talk shows have a wide range of guests who tell us exactly what they think. So why shouldn't we weigh in and let people know how we feel and how we “think” they should live? Before you answer that question, you will want to notice that in Luke 6:39-42 Jesus follows the command to not judge with a parable, and the parable is followed by another exhortation from the King. The parable appears as a question about two blind men leading one another. Jesus asks if this is really a good idea. [By the way, the original text anticipates a negative answer.] But the King’s subtle point is that His listeners are blind—more than they realize. We are blind to our own faults, our own shortcomings, and our own sinful propensities. For this reason, Jesus warns His followers that BEFORE WE CRITICIZE OTHERS, WE NEED TO TAKE A CRITICAL LOOK AT OUR OWN SHORTCOMINGS.

So what should we do if we are to going to obey the words of our King? How do we engage in this “inside look” He wants us to make? Consider three things that would be helpful for all of us to do on a daily basis. First, search your heart in the presence of God for any known sins or flaws in your own life (Psalm 139:23). I am aware that some people will caution us to not be “too hard on ourselves.” Yes, I understand. But there is a place for us to be honest with ourselves as to who we really are. And what we see may not be very pretty. It is far to easy to see the “speck” in another person’s eye and miss the “log” we are transporting everywhere. Second, once we see the sins and shortcomings in our own lives, we need to confess to the Heavenly Father that we have sinned—against Him and against others. And make sure you identify what you see as “sin” and not an occasional mistake you make along the way. Then third, remember the importance of relationship. What I mean is that you and I have no right to criticize someone with whom we have no relationship. There may come a time when we have to speak to someone about the direction one’s life is headed. But we will only be heard if we have loved them deeply and respected them in tangible ways. Or to put it another way, we need a relationship with someone before we have a right to pass judgment.

There is a high probability that right now you see the shortcomings of a spouse, a boss, a neighbor, a son, a daughter, or a friend. Your first impulse will be to tell them exactly what you think and what they should do! But before you say anything, first pass judgment on the condition of your own soul. This is the way of joy. This is the way life is to be lived in Christ’s Kingdom.

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