It’s been said that the most quoted—and I’d say misunderstood—scripture is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” The Pope recently has made headlines because of his use of this scripture. People so often want to use this verse to say that we as Christians should have no discernment or right to speak against what anyone else says or does. Interesting, because even saying that ‘others don’t have the right to judge ‘is in itself a ‘judgment call’. Those who believe that Christians should never ‘judge’ reveal they don’t understand the full counsel of God’s Word. Every person who’s ever lived makes ‘judgments’ every day, throughout their day. The only issue is upon what basis are those judgments made. Wise, ‘righteous’ judgment can only be made if you submit to the ruling authority of God, Who is the Creator and Sustainer of the World, and use His “rule book’, the Bible.
Let me give you an illustration that I hope will clarify the subject of Christians ‘judging’. The other night while my husband and I were watching a Braves baseball game on TV I missed a controversial call when I briefly left the room. When I returned, I asked my husband what had happened and he shared with me the umpire’s—in this case, the ‘ruling authority’s— call. It didn’t matter at all what the players or fans thought was the right ‘judgment call’; the only thing that mattered was what that the umpire determined to be the right judgment, a judgment he made based upon the rules of baseball.
Just like with the umpire in that baseball game, God alone has the right to determine what is right and wrong, good and evil. When we as Christians state what God— the ruling authority or “umpire” of the world— has already declared in the Bible to be true, we are not ‘judging’. Instead, like my husband who relayed to me the umpire’s call, we are just repeating the judgment that already has been made by the ruling authority.
How does a baseball fan know if the umpire’s call is right or wrong? They have to know the rules of the game of baseball, don’t they? Similarly, we can’t know whether something is true or a lie unless we know God’s “rules of the game” as revealed by His ‘rule book’, the Bible.
Christians have been commanded to go and make disciples throughout the nations (Matthew 28:19). To do so certainly involves instructing them in what God has clearly revealed in the Bible to be ‘good and evil’ so they can know what are the righteous things they are to pursue and the evil things they are to flee. (2nd Timothy 2:22) We as Christians have an obligation before God to share the ‘rules of the game’ found in the Bible with others. He commands us to ‘expose’ the ‘fruitless deeds of darkness’ so that they are made visible or known (Ephesians 4:11-14) in order that people will flee the wrath that is to come. (Luke 3:7; 1st Thessalonians 1:10)
Granted, we who know Him must first “remove the plank from our own eye, so that we can see clearly and be able to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. (See Matthew 7:1-5). We remove the plank from our own eye when we choose to humble ourself and confess our sin to God, relying upon Him to ‘forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’. (1st John 1:9) After that—and only after humbling ourselves, being cleansed from our own sin, and realizing our own position before a Righteous yet Merciful God, are we able with clarity and love to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.
God’s Word also makes the distinction between that which are indisputable and non-disputable matters. In the Bible God has made it clear that there are some things that He rules as indisputably evil, or that which we are not to do. For example, he has clearly stated such things as the following to be sin: idolatry; murder; stealing; coveting; adultery; fornication; homosexuality; drunkenness; gossip; pride; and greed. His Word on such matters is the ‘ruling law’ for mankind, and we as Christians are to follow His ’rules of the game’ and in love share them with others. However, there are also disputable matters, such as what is appropriate to eat or which days are to be considered sacred, and we have been commanded not to judge fellow believers or quarrel about such things. (Romans 14)
So if someone says to you, “Who are you to judge?” Tell them you are just sharing with them what the Judge of the Earth (Psalm 94:2) has already determined to be right and wrong. Let them know with your words— and mainly with your heart— that your love for them compels you to share what the ‘rules of the game’ are with them so that they can be ‘winners’ rather than ‘losers’ in the all important ‘game of life’. And make sure you do so with love, not focusing on the disputable matters but only on that which is clearly stated in God’s Word.
Do you know the ‘rules of the game’ as found in the Bible well enough to know if others’ are making their judgment calls based upon man’s opinions or God’s laws?
Written by Julie Van Gorp