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Monday, May 22, 2017

Don't Judge Me

They tell me that the best known Bible verse today is no longer John 3:16. Now it's Matthew 7:1: "Judge not, that you be not judged." They love to pull that one out of their quiver full of arrows to fire back at anyone who dares to say, "You know, the Bible says the behavior you're engaging in is sin." Of course, it belies some ignorance to assume Jesus meant "Don't judge" because the rest of the chapter is all about judging. Taking the speck out of your brother's eye (Matt 7:3-5), giving what is holy to dogs (Matt 7:6), "Enter by the narrow gate" (Matt 7:13-14), beware of false prophets you will recognize by their fruits (Matt 7:15-20), the whole "I never knew you" thing to those who come to judgment thinking they knew Him (Matt 7:21-23). So it's not saying "Don't judge". What it is saying is judge carefully, beginning with yourself. Don't have a double standard. "With the judgment you pronounce you will be judged." And that, brothers and sisters, is something of which we need to be constantly mindful. Because double standards abound.

How common is it for those who deny the existence of God to complain about the morality of God ... or His followers? I've seen "God must be evil because He killed His Son to save us." Well, now, that's a handy double standard. "No, I deny the Basis of moral absolutes and then claim absolutely that the Basis of morality that I denied violates the morality I created." Go with that if you must, but it's quite a standard there.

How about the "humble" person who says, "You can't say that God's Word says what you think it says; you need to be humble and just call it your opinion"? These types are quick to tell you you're wrong. Not "It's merely my opinion and I don't want to suggest I'm right, but ..." No, when you disagree with them "You're wrong and you should be humble enough to admit it because I won't." They will debate your error into the ground without the least sense of uncertainty or humility because it's you that needs to be humble. "I'm good. I'm humble. I'm better than you. You wanna be a humble man, you look at me." (Sorry ... a line from a Steve Taylor song.)

In a similar vein, you'll see a lot of intolerant people complaining about your lack of tolerance and judgmental people judging you for being judgmental. It's generally the "inclusive" folk who exclude people for not being inclusive. It's amazing how hateful people can be who are complaining about others who they see as hateful. Double standards.

Be careful -- we do this, too. It's dangerous to say, "You ought to be following Scripture" when you're not willing to follow Scripture. That kind of thing was what Jesus was talking about. "You homosexuals are simply refusing to follow God's laws" is all fine and good as long as the person who says it is personally not refusing to follow God's laws. "You should repent of your sexual immorality" is not a good thing to say when you're keeping a porn stash on your computer. It isn't only those outside the church that are prone to double standards. We're all capable of such things.

"Judge not, that you be not judged" does not -- cannot -- mean "Never pass judgment on anything." It's clear from the context. It isn't reasonable. It isn't practical. It isn't biblical. What is in mind, then, is that we judge ourselves first and foremost. Don't be like so many of our detractors who sternly demand you subscribe to their standard ... the one they're not willing to subscribe to. Take the log out of your own eye first.


David said...

Isn't there another translation of that verse that says, "Judge ye not harshly, lest thee be judged harshly."

Marshall Art said...

For my part, I endeavor to speak only on a behavior itself, regardless of whether or not I'm prone to engaging in it myself. My point is always on whether or not a behavior is pleasing to God or not. For example, I might covet now and then. But that doesn't mean I am proud to do it or do not also consider it wrong for myself to engage in it. If I lie, there's no problem insisting that those who lie are liars. I indict myself at the same time and do so knowingly. Indeed, one might ask, "Oh! So you never lie, I suppose?" My response would be, "I never said I don't. I'm saying lying is sinful."

Still, the charge of being judgemental remains despite by clarifications.

Stan said...

Marshall, I tried to be careful. I wasn't referring to "things I have trouble with". All of us sin and anyone who says they don't is mistaken (at best). It isn't about sin. So I warned about people who say, "You ought to be following Scripture" when they're not willing to follow Scripture. Not that any of us follow it perfectly. I'm talking about those who willfully refuse and then point out the error of another who willfully refuses. I warned about the person who calls someone on sexual immorality while willfully practicing it themselves. Not those who fall into it, repent, and turn. Those who practice it. The hypocrites.

Using your "lie" example, one could say, "Oh! So you never lie, I suppose?" to which you might respond, "No!" which would be a lie or "Yes! That's why I'm working on it myself and why I know it's so harmful!" Not the one who engages in it, but the one who willfully practices it and then calls others out for the same thing.

Marshall Art said...