It may be the best known Bible verse in our culture: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1).
As one of our society’s most popular verses, it is also one of the most misunderstood. Too many people, non-Christian and Christian, take Jesus’ words to be a blanket rejection of all moral evaluation. But given that Jesus alludes to his opponents as dogs and pigs five verses later, it’s safe to think Jesus wasn’t condemning every kind of judgment. We see from the rest of the Gospel that Matthew 7:1 is not inconsistent with strong criticisms, negative statements, church discipline, and warnings about hell. Judgmentalism is not the same as making ethical and doctrinal demands or believing others to be wrong.
And yet, after all the necessary qualifications, we must not mute this important command. As sinners, we are apt to assume the worst about people. We are eager to find favorable comparisons that make ourselves look good at the expense of others. We are quick to size people up and think we have them figured them out. But I have learned over the years–both as the giver and receiver of judgmental assumptions–that it’s best not to assume.
Little Miss Red Shoes goes to school with her friends. She’s in second grade. She lives with her mother and an aunt. Her father left the family years ago, though she thinks she saw him sometime in the last year. Her mom is HIV positive on treatment, sells little bits of beans and corn for a living, and often turns to the local church for assistance. Little Miss Red Shoes lives about a kilometer from me, in a community full of hospital workers and dedicated Christians. But that did not protect her…
Trailer for a documentary on Japan, the tsunami and hope. Very powerful. It’s been three years since I’ve visited and all the memories seem like they happened just yesterday.
Romans 12:8 teaches us that encouragement is one of the spiritual gifts. Not all have it in equal measure. Barnabas had an extra measure of encouragement in his spiritual DNA. Though some have the gift in a special way, Paul exhorted all believers to be about the work of encouraging others when he wrote: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). All saints can grow in this area by observing those particularly gifted in encouragement.