There are few Biblical commands more popular than ‘Judge not!’ It comes from the mouth of Jesus Himself and I am firmly in the camp which advocates that Jesus always meant what He said. But this important command has been filtered through our culture in surprising ways. Almost every guest on the Maury Povich Show knows it. This guy knew it. But it usually ends up meaning that no one can say anything about anyone’s way of life or beliefs or destiny or affirm any moral conviction whatsoever. This can not be what Jesus meant.
Yesterday, I was speaking to a very articulate person about Jesus and the Gospel. It was a great conversation but he expressed concern about judgmentalism. If he meant judgmentalism as an attitude, then I would have agreed with him completely. A superior, judgmental attitude which looks down on another is reprehensible, especially for a Christian. We are saved by God’s grace alone and we are just beggars telling others where to find the bread. But he seemed to mean something other than that. He meant that suggesting a person needed to put their faith in Jesus to be made right with God could be judgmental.
We Must Not Condemn. It’s clear as day that we’re not to condemn another. We have not been given the authority to decide over anyone. My acquaintance in the park showed relief that I did not want to presume about him. It was not my job to condemn him. But to condemn is not the only activity of a judge.
But We Must Not Acquit. Judges also acquit people – let them off the hook. Just as we’re not to condemn likewise we don’t the authority to acquit. I can’t doom someone to hell – but I can’t tell someone God’s cool with them if He may not be. This is a profoundly humbling place to be put in. While some might be tempted to be condemning, there are many others who fall into the ditch on the other side. Where is our help?
Only the Word of God Can Help Us. I would be a terrible judge of people. I would condemn them in my mind and attitude or I would minimize their sins upon my own whims. I am in constant danger of this and the only thing that can help me is God’s Word. In the Scriptures, God has revealed what sin is and how we need to be made right with Him. I didn’t write it, I can’t go beyond it. When we relate what God has revealed we leave the it to Him and let His judgments take over. I don’t get to decide the eternal destiny of another. I can neither condemn nor acquit them. But only by relating God’s truth, with both its warnings and comforts, can I exit that seat.