“I Don’t Want to Judge . . .”

“I don’t want to judge anyone -- it is not my place to judge.” So often we hear such sentiments. We are accustomed to being tolerant and loving, forgiving, tender and kind -- and that is very, very good. I wonder if one is truly tolerant, kind, and loving by refusing to judge properly. We ought all to remember Jesus’ words, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-2, NIV). Often this verse has been taken to mean all judgment is forbidden. But there is a qualifying phrase, “or you too will be judged.” This is the conse­quence one may expect when judging oth­ers. The next verse shows that judgment of self must precede any judgment of others.

But is Jesus saying that we will be judged eternally by the way we judge oth­ers? Consider that Jesus is expressing a common human trait. We generally get from others what we give them. The way we judge others is how they judge us. That being the case, we ought to judge others with the kind of judgment we hope they might extend to us. It is about the same as the “Golden Rule.” So we ought to judge — righteously.

The verb form of this word comes from the Greek word, krinw. Vine says it “primarily denotes ‘to separate, select, choose,’ hence, ‘to determine,’ and so to ‘judge, pronounce judgment’.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Part of Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi was, “That you may approve things that are excellent...,(Phil. 1:10). Not an easy task, it surely is a necessary one. Discernment based on facts and prompted by genuine love is never sinful.

Love never shuns righteous judgment. A physician whose “compassion” weighs more than his concern for hurting a patient is reprehensible. Sometimes pills are bitter and remedies hurt. There are times when failure to judge shows more lack of love than it does genuine concern for another. Which would you rather have -- someone to refuse to tell you the truth out of consid­eration for your feelings, or someone who will lovingly inform you of imminent dan­ger?

Marital problems, like mine fields, require great caution. Compassion and emo­tions often sway our judgment. Those who become enmeshed in divorce will more times than not end up in adultery. When that happens, it is natural to want to walk carefully into such a “mine field.” But what is love? Is it love to justify adultery? Is it love to condone a sinful relationship? You see, God has judged already on such a situation. He has condemned adultery. He expressed His emotional reaction to break­ing up marriage. Mal. 2:16 reads

“For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”

Both the New King James and New Interna­tional versions substitute the word “divor­ce” for “putting away.” Has God given His judgment on divorce? How can our judg­ments be different from His -- if we love like He loves?

Frankly, I appreciate the judgment of others, even the kind that appears to be un­kind, censorious, and cruel. I can reject that which I find to be completely inappropriate and unjustified. I can also recognize that when I am shown the errors and mistakes of my life, I can discern both the basis and motive of such judgment. But regardless of the motive, the basis for judging others must be soundly rooted in fact. Emotions are hard to put aside, but they sure get in the way when righteous judgment is re­quired. So, don’t you agree that we ought not to say, “I don’t want to judge anyone — it is not my place to judge.” Go ahead, judge me — it will help me. — DRS

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