To Judge or “Judge Not”

Judge with gavel

Part One of Two

It was 7:00 p.m. on a Halloween night. Amidst a flurry 6 year old Frozen princesses and 13 year old Walking Dead, our perpetually late letter carrier showed up. My first thought was to drop a candy bar in his bag and say, “Well, don’t you just look like a real mailman in your in little costume!”

But I didn’t. I bit my tongue. Because one of the most disturbing things I’ve experienced in life is the judgment of others, so God forbid I should do it myself. But I was tempted, oh, was I tempted. Why? Because we’re wired to make judgments. We do it every day. We judge whether to go to the market or wait till the rain lets up. Whether to open our front door to the guy in the Metallica t-shirt who says he’s “from the gas company.”

And yet, how many times have you heard someone say, “You’re judging me!” as if it were a universally bad thing? Or said it yourself, for that matter? Where did it come from, this ban on something we so naturally, and frequently need, to do?

Jesus.

He’s the one who put the negative spin on the whole judgment thing. It was Jesus who said (in Matthew 7:1), “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Resulting in untold numbers of conversations like:

A: You need to stop playing video games 16 hours a day and get a job!

B: There are people who make a living at this. Stop judging me!

A: I saw you taking that new laptop from the company mail room!

B: Hey, it’s expected. Do you know how little they pay me? Stop judging me!

Without further insight into what Jesus meant, many are quick to turn him into a roll-me-a-doobie savant whose message is, “Hey, just do your own thing, man, and don’t tell anybody else what’s right or wrong!”

But Jesus did explain what he meant. In the very next verse, he says: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and the same measure you use on them will be used on you.” And then he illustrates his point with this intentionally sarcastic metaphor: “Why do you focus on the speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the log in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me pull the speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own? You hypocrite! First pull the log out of your own eye, and then you’ll be able to see clearly to pull the speck out of your brother’s.”

His point? It’s not judging that’s the issue, it’s why we judge. In fact, elsewhere he commands us to “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). But judging in the Matthew 7:1 sense is judging with wrong judgment. Its intention isn’t correction, but condemnation. And God’s in the correction business, so if you’re in the condemnation business, you’re not in business with God.

superioriteeshirtCondemnation doesn’t fix anything, it merely vents, making the accuser feel superior, and in dong so, harms both. “I’m better than you” is the small print Jesus exposes when he says, “Why do you focus on the speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the log in your own?”

Three different words are used for judge in the Old Testament. The first, shaphat, means to “guide” or “govern,” and is used of the Judges who ruled ancient Israel. The second, yakakh, means to “correct” or “help.” Both of these are meant to make things better.

But the third word, duwn, signifies “final judgment” or condemnation, and is used exclusively of God as the judge of humankind—with one ominous exception: Genesis 4:16 prophesies that a descendent of the tribe of Dan “will judge (duwn) like a serpent.” Because of this verse, Saint Irrenaeus concluded that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan! In other words, when a human judges like this, the result is pure evil. Jesus uses the equivalent term when he warns, “Anyone who says ‘you fool’ (i.e. who judges another’s character) is in danger of hellfire” (Matthew 5:22)!

I once produced a short film entitled The Limited. At the start of the story a “good man” dies and finds himself boarding a train en route to The Judge. On board, he ends up finger-pointingseated across from a hungry, unpleasant woman. He avoids conversing with her or offering her the crackers in his shirt pocket. When the train arrives, he climbs a long set of stairs and finally meets his Judge…

The woman from the train.

To read Part Two, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to To Judge or “Judge Not”

  1. Beautiful and inspirational

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pastor Randy says:

    By George! I think you’ve got it! You have managed to peel away the layers of the onion to the core with this line: “It’s not judging that’s the issue, it’s why we judge.” Love the part explaining the why–correction (which is God) and condemnation (which is often us)! Can’t wait for the second part!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Oh this is such a good and necessary teaching for our current cultural climate.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. yakpro2015 says:

    Hey Mitch,I don’t see giving the mailman a candybar a judgmental thing, even saying you look like a real mailman. I think in light of the holiday, it would have brought a smile to his face after a long day and having to walk past all those kids. Now, if you said that to him on another day, that might be different. Almost questioning his validity as a postal worker.Anyway, thanks for the posts. When you got your teaching job in the mid west, where you actively looking for an out of state position? God bless,  Joe

    mobile: 909.241.6088

    SDG Soli Deo Gloria “To God Alone the Glory”

    From: Mitch Teemley To: yak_pro@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, January 16, 2017 8:58 AM Subject: [New post] To Judge or “Judge Not” #yiv2466550468 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2466550468 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2466550468 a.yiv2466550468primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2466550468 a.yiv2466550468primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2466550468 a.yiv2466550468primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2466550468 a.yiv2466550468primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2466550468 WordPress.com | mitchteemley posted: “Part One of TwoIt was 7:00 p.m. on a Halloween night. Amidst a flurry 6 year old Frozen princesses and 13 year old Walking Dead, our perpetually late letter carrier showed up. My first thought was to drop a candy bar in his bag and say, “Well, don’t you” | |

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      The subtext (at least in my mind) was, “Since you can’t seem to get here on time, you must just be pretending to be a mailman!”
      Re. Job: Assuming you mean the church job we relocated to Cincinnati for (in ’05), no, I submitted my resume nationwide, and this was where God sent us. But I’m not on staff there anymore, I’m writing and producing films independently.

      Like

  5. Cindy says:

    Yes, yes and yes!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So much Truth, Mitch — thank you.
    Very much looking forward to “Part Two”.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. dawnlizjones says:

    “Its intention isn’t correction, but condemnation. And God’s in the correction business, so if you’re in the condemnation business, you’re not in business with God.” Real clarity here! Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Jennie says:

    Great post, Mitch. Really.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Pingback: To Judge or “Judge Not” | Smart Christian.net

  10. Wow, so needed. Matthew 7 has become the banner for Christians never being willing to speak up in the spirit of love because they feel “well what can I say, I am no perfect either,” or those proclaiming ” you can’t judge me.”

    You perfectly addressed what Jesus was saying, not in the spirit of condemnation, lest we too be tempted. Galatians 6:1.

    I will share on my Facebook page. Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Pingback: To Judge or “Judge Not” (Continued) | Mitch Teemley

  12. tabitha59reachingout says:

    This is very good and I agree with you. I am tired of hearing Christians say “I’m not going to judge him” when in reality they are just afraid to call sin …. sin! I did a short study on the verses on judging as well, and what I got out of it is the judging that is referred to is not just assuming we know someone’s heart and/or motives for doing something, but also a “constant carping criticism” for another. The quote is from a Tyndale Commentary. I found it very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      “Constant carping criticism” is a perfect (and perfectly alliterative) description of what not to do. Especially applicable to authority figures…and parents!

      Liked by 1 person

      • tabitha59reachingout says:

        Yes, parents and authority figures can surely misuse their authority and cause great damage. Then on the other hand, we read of the sharp words Jesus and John the Baptist had for the Pharisees and I can’t help but think there must be a strong balance somewhere in there. Truth is vital as well as grace.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: The Spotlight: To Judge or “Judge Not”? – Grace and Truth

  14. Pingback: Profanity 101 | Mitch Teemley

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