The use and misuse of scripture has been on my mind lately.
It is very popular, when someone wants to blunt someone else’s criticism, to quote Jesus saying, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
This is often said to deflect a valid criticism of someone’s behavior, perspectives, attitudes, etc. The problem, of course, is that it’s usually a ridiculous application of the saying.
The next verse says this: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “
The clear implication is that judging is not mere evaluation. It is, instead, taking action to impose a penalty of some kind, a penalty you have no right to impose.
The New Testament is full of injunctions to be discerning, and it is full of instruction about what to do regarding the failures and sin of others. Clearly, these instructions imply that evaluation will be done, and that evaluation will be based on known standards.
It would be “judging” if you thought that you were personally empowered to enforce a penalty upon someone else based on your evaluation. It is not “judging” to observe that someone is not behaving according to biblical standards, though of course some discretion is required in terms of what you do or say about that observation. That’s exactly what the Biblical instructions are for.
Start a tally. The next 100 times you hear someone quote Matthew 7:1, ask yourself if they are simply trying to avoid any evaluation of their behavior, attitude or perspectives.
I’m guessing that’s the case about 95% of the time.
The next post in this series is here.