|Matthew 7:1 |
1 "Judge not, so that you are not judged.1
1 Judge not, so that you are not judged. You can't correctly judge someone because you have not walked in their shoes, but God has from the time they were born; he has witnessed every word, every thought, every action, every incident in their lives. So only He can understand everyone's background enough to make correct judgments. For example, there was a study made of prostitutes, (male and female), on the streets of San Francisco, and the overwhelming majority of them had been raped by a member of their family at an early age. A child that is raped often feels that they were somehow partially guilty for what happened; then they begin thinking that they are no good and only fit to repeat the error with others. Even our neighbors, who seem to be much like us, have had significantly different experiences in their lives, of which only God is aware, and so only He is capable of rightly judging others' behavior.
As William Penn wrote: "When your neighbor wrongs you, do not resent him; rather have pity for his lack of wisdom and understanding that would prevent his wrongful acts. We should make more haste to do right to our neighbor, than we do to wrong him; and instead of being revengeful, we should leave him to be judge of his own satisfaction or dissatisfaction with his unjust acts."
When you judge others, you judge the law; when you judge the law, you have judged yourself the judge; when you make yourself a judge, you have stolen His-only role and right. Therefore you judged yourself. If you die without having entered the kingdom while on earth, in the next life every judgment you made in criticizing someone or in causing someone harm is replayed with you feeling the emotional and/or physical pain that you caused someone to feel; your judgment of everyone is completely felt by you in every detail. Therefore you judged yourself.
This does not mean that you cannot judge what is evil behavior vs. good; this does not mean that you cannot judge doctrine in error vs. sound doctrine. Rather you are not supposed to criticize someone else in particular because your criticism is passing judgment on someone else; you shouldn't even think critically or resent someone else's actions, rather you should strive to bypass anger against them to sadness for them. Nor should you avoid constructive criticism of your children,* (while they will still listen to you), or employees under your authority.**
*Here is what William Penn wrote about disciplining children: "love them with wisdom, correct them with affection. Never strike in anger, and suit the correction to their age as well as their fault. Convince them of their error, before you chastise them; and try them, if they show remorse, before severity; never use that, but in case of obstinacy or impenitency. Punish them more by their understandings than the rod, and show them the folly, shame, and lack of duty of their faults rather with a grieved than an angry countenance, and you will sooner affect their natures, and with a nobler sense, than a servile and rude chastisement can produce."
**Here is what William Penn wrote about terminating someone's employment: "do not grieve yourself with careless servants; they will disorder you; rather pay them and let them go if they will not be better by admonitions; this is best to avoid many words, which I know wound the soul and offend the Lord."
This does not mean that you cannot write or speak about something in general being wrong, a lie, error, or sin; it just means you are not supposed to criticize someone else in particular. When you have sufficient Spirit of God within you, you may be prompted with words from God to pass judgment on someone else in particular; but that would not be you judging, that would be God. Just like Jesus did not judge himself: Of my own self, I can do nothing. I judge only as I hear; John 5:30... whatever I speak is just as the Father tells me to speak. John 12:49-50... the Son can do nothing of himself [by his own will]; but only does what he sees the Father do. John 5:19
A further reason you can't criticize others is because every man has a tangle of problems, and only the Lord knows which problem to address with a man in what order. You may see an obvious problem, but you cannot see the many others that are not apparent; and it is likely that there are other problems that must be addressed and repented from first, before the problem you see can be addressed. Only the Lord knows the order to address these problems in each man, and only the Lord can give the person strength to become different. So until you are prompted by the Spirit of God as to exactly what to say and when, and until the Spirit of God is standing by to impart strength to that person, any criticism is totally ineffective. When you criticize others you are only hardening their hearts from hearing the true judgments of God, and so you incur condemnation in proportion to the problems you cause. From the Word of the Lord within: "Never speak critically of any individual or any organization, no matter how deserving of criticism they are;" and "be blind to others' faults." In particular, be blind to your fellow believer's oppressive faults, which we all have until we have been purified.
Does this mean we are always supposed to be blind to all of others' faults, regardless how serious? Suppose someone you know has a habit of stealing things. Now suppose that person lists you as a reference on a job application, and the prospective employer calls you. Are you supposed to be blind to that person's faults? Absolutely not! Common sense and the Golden Rule say: do for others what you would have them do for you. Mat 7:12; so you warn the prospective employer of that person's history. Or worse, if you were a child care provider, and a known child molester applied to work for you, are you supposed to be blind to their faults? Absolutely not! Common sense and the Golden Rule say, decide for those children as you would have someone else decide for you if you were one of those children.
You are particularly not to judge someone outside the church; per Paul: For while I have no business judging those who are outside the church....those who are outside the church, God judges. 1 Cor 5:12-13
But as for those inside the church, you are supposed to be careful to not associate with those who exhibit continued lawlessness: But now I write to you not to keep company with anyone who calls himself a Christian and is sexual immoral or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an oppressive cheater; do not even eat with such a person. 1 Cor 5:11. Now if you are forbidden to even eat with them, is it not much worse to fellowship with them?
And the Lord tells us how to deal with someone in the church who is sinning: they are supposed to be kindly warned by one person who is spiritually mature enough to speak words supplied by the Spirit, then warned by two or three, then censured by the whole body of believers — and if they fail to repent of their error, they are supposed to be expelled and shunned. Mat 18:15-17
But again, as for oppressive faults that we all have until we have been reproved and cleansed by the Lord, don't criticize your fellow believers. Without clear and specific instructions from the Lord don't criticize anyone; and don't try to interpret sin, beyond its clearly stated scriptural definition: i.e., don't use sexual immorality to include censuring the length of a woman's dress; leave that decision to the Lord speaking to that person's conscience. Criticism eats the body of Christ like cancer; rather build up the body: encouraging your fellow believers, noting their improvements, and praising their good deeds. Every newly convinced believer starts immersed in Egypt and Sodom, and the Lord must lead each of us out of them in a unique way, tailored to each person's history and bondages; obviously, we cannot be perfected instantly, so blindness to your brother's oppressive faults is required. Your brothers are those who share your hope in the true gospel and who are seeking to follow God by waiting and listening for his commands.
From the Word of the Lord within: