We live in a day when the only unforgivable sin is that of ‘intolerance’. You can tolerate anything or anyone who is not ‘intolerant’. Specific judgment about most anything or especially anyone is OUT. Some have missed the teaching of Jesus regarding judging in Matthew 7. Jesus taught that there was only ONE individual who is qualified to make negative judgments against others. If you desire to help me, lead me, lift me, show me, teach me, support me, then your judgment of me can only be one of love and concern. On the other hand, if you just desire to put me down, deprecate me, wound me, hurt me, discourage me, then you are not the one qualified nor the one I need. Judgment must not be an end within itself, but a way to help others who are struggling, or have stumbled, or fallen, to rise again to fight another day.
Jesus said, “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7). If we only quote these seven words we might wrongly conclude that all judging is wrong. Read the next four verses and it is evident that Jesus is condemning the hypocrite (play actor) who has a huge beam of wood protruding out of his eye. How can he say, “Let me take the mote (speck) out of your eye” when he has a beam (plank of wood) protruding out of his own eye. True judgment requires wisdom and compassion.
In the middle centuries, one judge was found taking bribes and guilty of lies and fraud. He was executed and his skin was used to cover the judge’s chair. A grim reminder for future judges. Judging others is a serious matter. In verse twenty Jesus says, “By their fruits ye shall know them”.
Paul writes, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). Strong judgment is called for and restitution commanded! It’s not the survival of one, but the survival of all.
You may judge a tree by the fruit it is bearing, but never judge a tree on the direction the wind is blowing the leaves. Judgments must have a clean clear motive of lifting, helping, showing or teaching others a better way. Since we are all permanently flawed, it behooves us to be “Quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (wrath) (James 1:19). The wise man says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”. So never hesitate to speak words that are kind, that inspire and aid others who are struggling. Think twice (maybe three times), before you spread gossip, speak evil, or just enjoy the feeling of superiority by putting others down. James admonishes, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Seems like I remember a line in an ancient play when the actor said, “He who steals my purse steals trash, but he who robs me of my good name, steals that which enriches him not, but makes me very poor indeed.”