A friend of mine shared my previous post and made a comment that I want to address. Here’s the comment
I want to make it clear that I don’t disagree with this comment necessarily. However, I want to make sure people don’t misinterpret what I wrote in my last post. I don’t want my focus on relating to and loving others to be distorted. In our politically correct culture, people tend to be horrified by the idea of judgment. To judge someone is to commit grievous sin in America. Self-help articles show people how to stop judging others. Pithy quotes like this one see judging and love as incompatible. I see people constantly bemoaning Christians who judge people. This guy wants Christians to stop judging others. This person wonders why religious people are so judgmental. According to others, this prohibition against judging comes straight from Jesus; the proof is in Matthew 7:1-3.
Let’s think about this for a second. What exactly does it mean to judge other people? Too many people forget to answer this question and assume we are all speaking the same language. I decided to look up the word in a dictionary and here are the relevant definitions. To judge means:
1) to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises
2)to form an estimate or evaluation of, especially: to form a negative opinion about
3)to hold as an opinion
4)to form an opinion
According to the dictionary, judging roughly means forming an opinion or coming to a conclusion. So when we judge people, we are forming opinions about them. That doesn’t seem so bad does it? In fact, it would be impossible to stop judging people because we can’t help but form opinions about them. When we see a man walk into a store holding the hand of a little girl, most of us form an opinion about the man; we think him to be a father. When a guy walks down the street in a suit and tie holding a briefcase, we form an opinion about him. When we see a guy hit a girl, we form an opinion about him, her and the relationship. When we walk into Starbucks and see a girl wearing a green apron, we form an conclusion about her. Judging people is inescapable. This is obviously not what Jesus warned against.
Some might say that judging means to form a negative opinion about someone, especially when there isn’t enough information. The idea is that we can’t judge people until we really get to know them. Oh really? So we aren’t allowed to form any opinions about someone until we really get to know them? Is it just me or does that sound a bit childish and naive? Does this mean that the neighbors of these serial killers were wrong to think these serial killers normal because they “didn’t really know them”? Who get’s to decide when there is enough information to form an opinion about someone? If I see a guy who comes into Starbucks every time I’m there and every time I see him lie, then I can’t judge him a liar because I “don’t really know him”? I doubt Jesus was talking about that.
So then what exactly was Jesus talking about? Well, it’s kind of funny because as quick as people are to turn to Matthew 7, many never bother reading the whole passage. Let’s look at this verse here.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (emphasis mine)
Many are quick to quote to first part about not judging, but forget the rest of the passage, especially the last part. According to the passage here, if we see clearly, then it is ok to remove the speck from someone’s eye. When we read the rest of the passage, we can see that Jesus referred to hypocritical judging. Christians aren’t supposed to judge with hypocrisy.
The problem that I see is that people have distorted the meaning of this passage beyond recognition. In today’s culture, we aren’t allowed to confront people because its judgmental and unloving. We aren’t allow to call people out when they do something stupid, sinful, rude or mean because that isn’t real love. Really? That’s a stupid way to live. This might sound radical, but sometimes we judge and call someone out BECAUSE we love and care about that person or the people they are hurting. Judging people and loving them are very well compatible.
Jesus spoke out against hypocrisy. It was one of things he frequently called the Pharisees out on. Let me illustrate what Jesus was speaking out against with an example. Awhile back, I was in a long-distance relationship with a girl. It was my first serious relationship. Anyway, things got pretty heated and we became very physical. It wasn’t straight up intercourse, but we definitely toed the line. Both me and my girlfriend at the time had a mutual friend. We both found out that this mutual friend was sexually active with her boyfriend and eventually became pregnant. All three of us claimed to be Christians. The kicker is that both me and my girlfriend talked about how stupid this other friend was and how sinful she was. We really looked down on her. For some reason, it didn’t cross my mind nor my girlfriend’s mind that we were being huge hypocrites. I look back on it now and want to smack myself upside the head for being so stupid. This is the kind of thing Jesus spoke out against. People condemning others for the same thing they, themselves, do. Simply calling someone out on their crap is NOT a bad thing nor is it unloving. Parents call their kids out and punish them BECAUSE they love their kids. If Al finds out that his best friend, Bill is having an affair, Al can and should call Bill out on it. However, if Al is also having an affair, calling Bill out on his affair is stupid and the epitome of hypocrisy. This is what Jesus spoke out against. Don’t let people tell you to stop judging them for calling out their crap. Go ahead and call people out on their crap, just make sure you aren’t guilty of the same thing.