Judge Not

Matthew 7: 1-2 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.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Judgment is a difficult subject.

On the one hand, it is fair to say that in order to live holy lives we have to make judgments about what behaviors are right and wrong. This is a tautology.
On the other hand, it is also fair to say that we are all God’s servants and that we must not judge each other. We stand or fall before God alone.

Is it fair, then, to say that we should judge behaviors and not people?

If only it were that simple.

As human beings, it is a natural thing to see other peoples’ behaviors as reflecting on them and defining their personal character. And, to bring the point squarely home, that is exactly how God Himself sees people, isn’t it? We ARE made in His image.

The difficulty comes from that original sin, when Adam and Eve chose the “knowledge of good and evil” over “life” and thereby took on themselves the “right” to decide what is good and what is evil.

Behavior naturally bleeds into character, and character naturally bleeds into value. Once we start to judge someone, we naturally move from behavior to character to value, sometimes very quickly. (Most people will deny that–“I don’t see him as being less valuable, just wrong.” When you start to examine your heart, though, you’ll likely find that in some way you hold that person in contempt, and contempt is an explicit denial of another person’s value.)

So how can we do this RIGHT?

It comes down to the attitudes of the heart.

We MUST understand our proper place in this equation. God alone determines value. We are usually accurate about behavior and sometimes we can take a stab at character based on that behavior (usually a guess more than a judgment). Beyond that, we have no place at all in the equation, even in regard to OURSELVES.

The purpose for our judgment is entirely confined to two items.
First, the condition of our own hearts.
Second, the elevation of those around us.

Exercising judgment in regard to other people outside these two purposes leads us inexorably into evil.

Romans 14: 12-13 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

We must look to the condition of our own hearts, and we must do our best to give aid to those around us. If your design is purely to give aid and your heart is right, then you may be able to contribute something of value to those around you. This is part of our responsibility to our brothers and sisters. The instant you give in to frustration or contempt (“He’s not LISTENING.”), you have nullified your usefulness.

Beware the demander and the commander.

I lived for a long time in an environment where peoples’ first instinct on seeing another person “doing it wrong” was to set them straight.

The central point of this topic is as follows:  a useful offering comes from a helpful heart, one that loves and does not think of self.

Anything that enters the realm of a demand or commandment bears the mark of witchcraft–coercing someone else to do things your way against their will. Examine yourself. Be certain that your own actions do not demand or command others, and reflect on your heart before you cast judgment.

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