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Thou Shalt Judge


One of the few teachings of Jesus which enjoys popularity today is "Judge not, that you will not be judged." The usual interpretation, however, seems to contradict everything else that Jesus said. And taken to the extreme, it would make human life impossible.

Even vision is impossible without judgment. A newborn baby sees only pieces of light and darkness until it learns to judge which shapes are worthy of its attention and which to ignore as mere background. This judgment is the beginning of meaningful vision.

We must do the same with spiritual things if we are not to become blind leaders of the blind. And we have judged the teachings of Jesus to be superior to anything else.

But what about his "Judge not" teaching? Bear in mind that punctuation was added to the original Bible. Jesus said, "Judge not that you will not be judged." (no comma) He seems to be saying, "Don't think that you will not be judged." It certainly fits with the next bit: "For you will be judged by the same standards that you have used in judging others." (Matthew 7:1-2)

It is not judging that is wrong; but rather judging by false standards. In John 7:24 Jesus says, "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment," i.e. "thou shalt judge!"

There are scores of references to judgment and judging in the Bible. Almost all see judgment as good, and a lack of judgment as bad. In fact, the word hypocrite comes from two Greek words that mean with too little judgment.

The world in general, and the church in particular, is in the mess it is in today because of a lack of judgment. "Judge not" has become the cornerstone of an amoral world and a hypocritical church.

Chaos results if everyone makes up their own rules according to their own opinions.

Two plus two equals four. That's the truth. And if truth exists in little matters, it must exist in big matters as well. Truth will expose the lies.

Jesus said his teachings will judge us in the last days (John 12:48). He says his teachings are the cornerstone on which our faith must be built if it is to survive (Matthew 7:24-25). He says church leaders have left his teachings out of their theology (Luke 12:17). And he says if we don't let his teachings judge us in this life, they will grind us to powder in the life to come (Luke 12:18).

Yes, we have passed judgment on the church. But we have done so on the basis of the teachings of Jesus, and not on emotional scare tactics or traditional measures of respectability (the bases on which people most often condemn us).

Let Jesus and his teachings be the final judge of us all. Because like it or not, they will be!

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