A retort offered by many today is, “Judge, not!” and in all honesty those words carry an element of truth. What is left out of that declaration is found in the context of Matthew 7:1-5 giving us the ‘bigger picture’ Jesus reveals. Immediately following those words is the admonition that those who judge will be judged. With that being said, if you have examined your life, and have no issues to be concerned with over being judged, is there any reason to fear being judged? This is borne out by further examination of Jesus’ next words in which He speaks of a speck in a brother’s eye that is to be removed. Who does the removal? It is none other than another brother, but only after he removes the log from his own eye so that he can see clearly to make the correction. So, we see that the words “judge not” aren’t necessarily absolute, but rather a call to self-evaluation and correction with regard to sin within our own lives.
Are there other scriptural passages that can help us to better understand? Consider what the apostle Paul told the churches in Galatia (Gal 6:1). If a brother is caught in a trespass, one who is spiritual should seek to restore him. This requires an assessment, a judgment if you will, for we cannot know another is ‘caught in a trespass’ without examination. James 5:19-20 is another scripture we can see a similarity. In this passage we see that anyone who ‘strays from the truth’ and is turned back from the error of his way shall have his soul saved. Again this cannot happen without some type of assessment as to behavior? If we hold to a “judge not” attitude, how many would be lost for all eternity?
Now let us consider the words of the apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. In chapter five, Paul makes it clear that God is the One Who judges. But even a simple review of the text reveals that God judges those ‘outside the church’… and we have no business with them other than teaching them the Gospel. However, in that same passage of scripture, specifically verse 12, we see that members of the church judge other members of the church. Why? One of missions of the church has been said to ‘keep the saved, saved’ and this can only be done if we are on watch for our brothers and sisters and their possible sin, error, or trespass and then reach out to them, restoring them to the body. I would hope that someone would do that for me, as much as I would do so for them. Perhaps our plea should be, “Judge me, please! But, remember to be gentle about it, as well.”
Copyright © 2012, Nolan P. Rutter