So, most of you know that oh-so-familiar passage in Matthew chapter 7 that begins “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This has been the battle standard of many Christians in recent years, who argue that this verse means we shouldn’t ‘judge’ (I get so tired of hearing that word) other people, mainly people who look… suspicious. Or unchristian. Or whatever. Actually I’m not all that sure what people mean anymore when they say “Don’t judge” because that phrase is so overused.
Anyway, if you read through the whole judgment passage, you will come upon another section. In my first / study Bible, both of these passages are included under the same heading: “Do not judge.” (which has big implications, that’s why I’m mentioning it) Of course I’d heard both of these messages before many times, but until the first time I actually read the whole of Matthew 7 I didn’t know those two were right next to each other. That first time I got confused. I actually wrote next to the Pearls Before Swine verses, “What does this have to do with judging?”
Here’s the text for you:
“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.
Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
The second part seems kind of irrelevant, right? Well, I know that later I read this again. And this time I actually read the helpful little note thing that is under it in that particular Bible:
“Jesus did not perform miracles for unbelievers because it would not have respected what was holy. The point is how to handle the gospel in the face of those who hate the truth.”
At that point I think I started staring at the page and blinking, which is what happens when my mind goes “DUH! HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT BEFORE?” Now okay. I don’t want to imply that the guy who wrote the study Bible has written words that should be regarded as sacred / as reliable as the Bible itself. But what he says sure makes a lot of sense for those verses, doesn’t it? It sounds weird at first that God is telling us not to tell unbelievers (or ‘those who hate truth’, as he calls them. I like that :P) that what they’re doing is wrong. Because obviously it is and they need to know that. But chances are they already do know that, and this whole thing made a lot more sense to me when I started seeing it happen in real life. I would have friends who were genuine Christians and friends of THEIRS who were ungenuine “Christians” would tell them things that were going on in their life, and my friends would point them to scripture and God, and I would be sitting there going “WHAT ARE YOU DOING SHE KNOWS THAT YOU SOUND SO PREACHY.”
Since I’ve kind of seen what this passage actually means, I’ve gotten frustrated a lot with people who seem to think the ‘judging issue’ is so complicated and hard to discern. Because to me, it is there in black and white: You judge people who you know are Christians and tell them if they’re doing wrong because they will actually listen to you (eventually, maybe not at first), and you don’t do that to people who aren’t Christians because they could care less.
Okay, maybe I should back up a bit and explain my thought process. In the first part of the text it says basically, not to be a hypocrite, not to judge others as doing wrong unless you are ready to admit that you have the same problem and have asked God to help you fix it. In the second part of the text it says that you don’t give truth-haters truth because they will block it out. Agreed?
[Actually, I want to stop right here and say, yes, I know that all people hate and hide from truth naturally, so I’m not trying to be all “ooh, I love truth and you hate it, you’re eeeevilllll” It’s just a good handle to use to express what I’m trying to say. I dunno. Rather than ‘sinners’ (cuz we’re all sinners too) they can be the people who choose to hate truth and we can be the ones that choose to pursue it. Okay with everybody?]
So now that I’ve established that, the next occurring thought would probably be this: Christians should study and learn how to judge truthfully what is right and wrong, which will result in them becoming truth(judgment)-dispensers to the people who will take it and reserving truth(judgment) from the people who will not take it. So there you have it, you judge believers and you don’t judge nonbelievers.
Just to let you know, these are the beliefs I have from what I’ve been able to see in this scripture and draw from it. It’s made itself apparent in daily life as Godly (anyone know why that’s always spelled with a small ‘g’? and ‘Biblical’ with a small ‘b’? okay spelling freak side note ending now) and useful, which is what scripture / truth is supposed to be. So as far as I’m concerned it passes the truth test. That being said I’m always learning new stuff and one of those stuffs is that just because someone disagrees with me doesn’t mean they’re wrong and I’m right. If you have any expansion or argument with what I’ve said here I’d love to hear it!