Editor’s Note: The italicized sections of this post are from Greg Laurie Daily Devotion - Wednesday, August 18, 2010 all other text is by the writer of this post.
Do you know the favorite scripture of nonbelievers?
Matthew 7:1 (NKJV) Judge not, that you be not judged.
The nonbeliver and some believers quote this verse after we say something like, “I don't think what you’re doing is right” or ,”You shouldn't be doing that?”
The Greek word translated “judge” in this passage is “krinō”:which means “properly to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish :- avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.” - Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.
A better translation of Matthew 7:1 would be: "Do not condemn others, and you will not be condemned."
Translating “judge” to condemn here makes perfect sense when taken in context. Believers must stop short of final condemnation, because we can’t judge motives. Only God can do that.
James 4:11-12 (NKJV)11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
This verse is not telling us that we should not make judgments, because in other passages we read that as believers, we are indeed to make evaluations, to be discerning, and yes— to even make judgments.
Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Christians need to judge themselves and offending members
1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 12-13 (NKJV)3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."
The Bible says this about believers;
I Corinthians 6:2 NKJV Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
I Peter 4:17 NKJV For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Believers are not in position to condemn a person. But are in a position to make judgments about things, situations, viewpoints, and even about people to some degree.
Jesus warns us not to assume God's prerogative to condemn the guilty; he is not warning us not to discern truth from error. Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but only offering correction in the wrong spirit.
Matthew 7:3-5 (NKJV)3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Matthew 18:15-18 (NKJV)15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Galatians 6:1-5 (NKJV)1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.5 For each one shall bear his own load.
"Don't judge!" is said by people who don't like it when we dare to have a Christian worldview. In fact, I have found that the most narrow-minded people are those who claim to be the most broad-minded. Those who claim to be the most accepting are often the least accepting. Because when a Christian has an opinion, a nonbeliever will say, "How dare you say that! Who are you to judge?"
There is a living God, and He has revealed himself in the pages of Scripture. Therefore, as believers, we accept the fact that we have absolute truth from God. And we develop our worldview from what the Bible teaches.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.