By Grant Hawley
There's an article out there by a popular talk radio personality (and more popular blogger) that says Jesus wants you to judge. No He doesn't. That's His job. He does not want you to tear Him off of His throne or His Bema seat.
That particular blog makes some good points. Yes, people do use the command not to judge to justify evil behavior. It goes like this:
Joe Thumper: "____________ is wrong. The Bible says so here and here."
Anne Tagonista: "The Bible says not to judge. Good Christians don't judge."
I get tired of these kinds of responses, too, but what Joe Thumper was doing isn't judging. Joe is discerning good and evil actions based upon Biblical principles.
The author of the blog that says Jesus wants you to judge looks at Matt 7:1, "Judge not, that you be not judged" and points out that Jesus follows that with a discussion about hypocrisy. His point, this blogger says, is not that we shouldn't judge, but that we shouldn't judge wrongly or hypocritically. But let's look at the passage:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matt 7:1-5)
Yes, Jesus here does give us permission to remove a speck from a brother's eye if we don't have a plank in our own (who doesn't?). Likewise, Paul tells us: "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Gal 6:1). This is about restoration. This isn't the same as heaping up condemnation on people.
Only One Righteous Judge
But what's more interesting, is that to open up this discussion, Jesus isn't saying, "Don't judge wrongly or hypocritically" He is saying, "Don't judge because you judge wrongly and hypocritically." That gets to the heart of the matter. We are not to judge because we are not qualified to do so rightly. There is only One Person who is qualified, and that's Jesus Christ. Peter said, "And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10:42). Likewise, John wrote:
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll [Greek: book, see Rev 20:11-15] written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?" And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals." And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood..." (Rev 5:1-9)
And likewise, Paul wrote: "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge [not 'a' righteous judge], will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim 4:8). And the author of Hebrews: "For we know Him who said, 'VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,' says the Lord. And again, 'THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.'"
This is why the Bible tells us not to judge. Not just once, but repeatedly:
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS TO GOD." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall [hindrance] in our brother's way.
1 Cor 4:3-5
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.
There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
Jesus wants us to be discerning, sure. There's even a place for church discipline (1 Cor 5:1-8) and a place for pointing out the moral consequences of false teaching when necessary (Phil 3:2, 18-19; 2 John 7-11; Jude 8-13). But for us to go around condemning people is to exalt ourselves to God's rightful place, to take on a job that we are by no means qualified to do, and to dethrone the One who is qualified.
No, Jesus doesn't want you to judge. That's why He tells you not to.