Monday, August 24, 2009

Commentary - Matthew 7:1

Judge not that ye be not judged.
Matthew 7:1

The word "judge" in this verse translates from the Greek word 'krino,' also found in:

--John 12:48
44And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.

--Acts 17:31
29Being then God’s offspring,we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

--2 Timothy 4:1
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Usage of the word 'judge' in these cases indicate that the type of judgment warned against is that of presuming to determine if someone is or is not worthy to receive the gift of salvation. Not even Christ did this during His mission on earth as we can see by His words in John 12:47:

"I came not to judge the world but to save the world."

Especially not are we able in success to judge matters of the heart prematurely as shown in 1Corinthians 4:5-6:

"Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to life the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God."

But nowhere does Jesus tell us not to use discerning judgment about the actions of others in day-to-day living.

We read in John 7:24:

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

These words of Jesus indicate that we can use our powers of moral discernment based on the standards of God. We are not to be self-righteous or superior. We are not to judge in the sense of being a faultfinder who delights in pointing out mistakes and shortcomings in others, who actively seeks out failings to magnify them and then pour cold water on dreams, aspirations, and self-esteem. That kind of judge disparages others in order to exalt himself.

In avoiding an ugly self-righteousness, we must first remember that we are all sinners. As sinners, we realize that we are saved not by ourselves but by grace. We can only practice the observational powers given us in regard to actions as measured against the Word of God, as in recognizing a tree by its fruit. Paul wrote in Phillipians 1:9-11:

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."

Next time you hear a quote directed at you from Matthew 7:1, recognize the purpose is not to understand the commands of Jesus but to discourage His followers from the knowledge about and confidence in making moral judgments based on the Word of God. As salt of the earth, Christians should try to share as an example not only by actions but also with words. We need morality and standards. We don't need Christians wearing blinders.

When we exercise judgment based on the Word of God, there will be outcry from those who wish to continue in immoral behavior without hearing flack about it. In an effort to shut you down, they will pick out the lone verse of Matthew 7:1. In response, do not be tricked and do not back down. Arm yourself with the courage that comes from a wider spectrum of spiritual knowledge.

by K.L.Kraemer

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