Judging Others by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II
Matthew 7:1 (KJV) “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
Many have heard me say, “Scripture does not command us to remove ourselves from any position of making a judgment about others or things.” With this, I know that individuals have stated today’s Scripture to refute my statement. However, I’ve always qualified my statement by including the principle of Christ’s teaching – “We are NOT positioned to condemn anyone else; but, we are called to ‘judge righteously’ in everything.”
You are making a “judgment” right now. You are deciding whether it will be worth your time to read this article or not. Thus, you are making a judgment. You made a judgment concerning what you are wearing, or what you wore earlier today. You will make a judgment concerning what you have eaten, or will eat, today.
While we are discussing food, you will make a judgment concerning the quality of the food, especially after you have eaten it. You will decide whether the food was good, mediocre, or awful. In making that judgment, if someone else prepared the food, you will need to be cautious to not “condemn” the cook! However, after eating a person’s cooking on several occasions, you will be experienced enough to assess whether they are a good cook or not. BUT, you will not be positioned to pronounce a qualified decision on the condition of their heart.
Jesus was teaching that we will never be positioned to be able to judge the condition of men’s hearts! As to the quality of their works, the works will speak for themselves. For instance, all one needs to do to judge the quality of an apple is to taste it. For one, the taste may be fare inferior; however, for another, they might find the taste quite exquisite. Obviously, this is purely subjective judgment. AND, we know that our own hearts will deceive us; therefore, we cannot depend upon our own understanding or experience to make spiritual judgments concerning others.
However, if their works do not reflect the quality of God’s Word, such as “giving to gain,” or “giving to be seen,” we can make a judgment that their giving is not genuine. IF you’re reading closely, you might have thought, “Wait! How do you know if anyone is giving in these manners or not? Now, you are being critical!” You are correct!!! That is why I stated it that way! ONLY God would be able to know what was in the heart of the donor.
Oftentimes, there is a fine line between constructive and condemning criticism. Not all criticism is bad. Scripture instructs us to love our brother or sister enough that we would be willing to go them if we see them “overtaken in a fault.” However, the Word of God also instructs us as to what manner of spirit we should instruct them.
Galatians 6:1 (KJV) “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
It would be a false charity to ignore the sins in others, just as assuredly it would be unrighteous to seek to please ourselves at the expense of pleasing God. Once again, you might ponder how anyone would be able to discern whether a brother or sister is “overtaken in a fault” or not. The “evidence” of such a condition would be blatantly present for those who are “spiritual” and are continually desiring to look beyond the outward appearance and to “see as God sees.” Of course, this can only be done if the Holy Spirit reveals the truth.
Also, there are actions that are clearly identified as being contrary to Scripture – regardless of how some may decide to interpret it. For example, it does not require much spiritual discernment to judge that a man who decides to leave his wife and family and go after another woman is in direct contradiction of Scripture and is “overtaken in a fault.” For the sake of this discussion, let me say a person’s “actions” may also present that he is “overtaken” with the “sin” of intemperance. I said, “sin,” because that is what “fault” means in Galatians 6:1.
I am not able to see “why” a person does anything. Only God can “judge” the heart. However, you and I can see “what” a person does. IF the actions of a brother or sister are contrary to the Word of God, we can see this, and we will make a judgment concerning this. The question is, “Do I love the person enough to be willing to confront them? Am I spiritual enough that God would trust me to “restore” them?”
Individuals who are caught up in the “spirit of criticism” seem to present the same characteristics. They tend to be…
One of the prime examples of self-righteousness is King David. If you will recall, after he committed adultery with Bathsheba, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him (2 Samuel 12:1-10). When Nathan told David about a “king” who stole his neighbor’s pet lamb, David got very angry and said that man was deserving of death. Nathan told King David, “You are the man!” The good thing is, David repented! Many who are self-righteous will only become angrier when they are confronted with their hypocrisy.
When self-righteous critics are confronted, they will often justify their position with the following statement, “What I am doing is not nearly as bad as what they are doing!” Jesus clarified their condition, Matthew 7:3-4 (KJV) “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”
Regardless of the characteristics that those who are under the influence of the “spirit of criticism” present, they ALL share one common characteristic. They are all awaiting God’s judgment.
Romans 2:3 (KJV)“And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?”
I pray that I shall be more generous and gracious. I pray that I shall be more compassionate concerning others and less condemning.