How to Judge Others

“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.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
~ Matthew 7:1-3

It’s the verse above the one I chose to theme my blog that gives me even more pause. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Does Jesus mean that when I judge others, they will judge me the same way? Or that God will judge me the same way? Or both?

He doesn’t say.

But I tend to think He’s talking about God’s judgment of me. If others judged me the way I judge them, that would be almost-miraculously fair of them. They would somehow have an accurate sense of how I judge them, and they would use the same measure in judging me, laying aside their own measure of judgment. Very selfless! Perhaps even commendable!

And not very likely, is it?

So if judge others and condemn them for infractions of what I deign to be the law of Christ, doesn’t that mean that God will judge and condemn me for infractions of what He knows to be the law of Christ?

If I am self-righteous in my judgment of others, doesn’t He have the right to be truly righteous in His judgment of me?

At the same time, if I show grace and mercy to those with whom I disagree – even if I am right! – will not God show grace and mercy to me in judgment about matters in which I have been wrong, and He has ultimately been right?

If I withhold judgment of others that I deem is God’s privilege alone, will He not exercise that judgment? Do I really need to worry that someone is getting away with something I feel is wrong, but about which He has not chosen to speak?

And, as a general rule, when scripture encourages us to judge, doesn’t it usually add the words “for yourselves”?

What an incredible burden judgment places on me. How underqualified I am to exercise it. How scarred with splinters are my own eyelids.

Sometimes they are so swollen that I can only look within.

Do I see His grace there?

Do I see the crown of righteousness that He will award me – purchased with blood from the crown of thorns He wore?

Do I see the only One righteous to judge?

Do I look forward to the day of His appearing?

Or do I see a cold, blind, judging self, dressed in filthy rags, proclaiming the apparel of others more pathetic and tattered and grimy?

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. ~ 1 Timothy 4:8

I believe Jesus tells me exactly how to judge others:

“Don’t.” ~ Luke 6:37

If You Were Caught In A Sin …

Would it be more helpful to you if the one who caught you came to you privately to talk to you about it, and put an arm around your shoulder, and offered to pray with you about it and shared a weakness of his/her own and asked you if you both could be accountable to each other before God about the sins that challenge you both … or would it be more helpful to you if that person went to your boss, your dean, your spouse, your minister, or your elders and told them what you had done?

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” ~ Matthew 18:15-20

Before you respond with 1 Corinthians 5, let me concede that God can and often does make good results come of wickedness exposed for what it is.

Look what He did with a crucifixion.

Then consider the possibility that a single sin observed does not necessarily indicate a life proudly steeped in its stink and still calling itself Christlike – the kind of situation that Paul is dealing with in Corinth.

Then return to my original question: If you were caught in a sin … how would you want to be treated?

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. ~ Galatians 6:1-5

No, there’s no excuse for not following the directions. It’s not acceptable to say, “I’m not spiritual, so it’s the job of someone else to restore gently.” You’re a child of God if you’ve received His grace and His Spirit lives in you: you’re spiritual.

It’s not acceptable to say “I’m justified in judging this person because I haven’t committed that sin.” That’s comparing one’s self to someone else – when neither of you is sinless.

It’s not acceptable to say, “I wasn’t sinned against; it was himself/herself/the church/God that was sinned against.” If you are a part of that person’s church family, the sin brings reproach upon the family name of your Savior.

It’s not acceptable to say, “I don’t know what to do; I’ll just turn it over to someone else.”

Jesus told his followers what to do (above). He gave us step-by-step instructions on the matter because He knows exactly what we need and He knows this is the only way that works.

If we love the other person as a fellow sinner, we fully follow the steps in the order that they are given, as necessary. How we would want to be treated if caught in a sin is going to be how others want to be treated, too. That’s not a guarantee that pursuing it will immediately yield a melted and penitent heart – which is why there is more than one step to the process. Even loving, respectful confrontation may well lead to anger, denial, hateful words, accusations, or worse.

If Jesus had never outlined the steps, we should have known them in our hearts – because we know how we ourselves would want to be approached when guilty. (Not that anyone of us would really want to be approached about it at all!)

And if for no other reason than the golden rule (what I believe to be the “law of Christ”), then we owe it to each other – in view of God’s grace through Christ – to take the steps.

In order.

Not skipping any.