State any biblical moral belief that contradicts how someone else is living and you are sure to hear the phrase, “Don’t judge me.” Even those who never read the Bible or go to church are quick to quote the phrase from Matthew 7 that says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This has led many people, including many Christians, to assume that to state a belief about an issue is the same as judging. This is not at all the case.
The Teaching of Matthew 7
As is always the case, context is crucial. Those who quote the first few words of Matthew 7 miss the whole context of the passage. Here is what this passage is really teaching.
- Unmerciful, self-righteous, and egotistical judging that is rooted in your own standards instead of God’s commands is sinful.
- It is wrong to hold others to a standard that you, yourself ignore.
- To focus on the sin of others while ignoring our own sin is to demonstrate our pride and self-righteousness. Be sure to deal with your own sin.
- You and your opinions are not the final judge, God is. So what His Word says is what matters.
This understanding leads to a wrong kind of judging that is to be avoided, and a communicating of a right kind of judgment.
A Wrong Kind of Judging
The wrong kind of judging is a judgment that is rooted in our own self-righteous, man-made standard. It is not a judgment that is rooted in Scripture, but in our preferences. It is a judgment that attempts to know motives. A wrong kind of judgment is where we view ourselves as the final authority instead of God.
This is what Jesus was condemning in the Pharisees in Matthew 7. They cared more about their man-made traditions than they did the commands and moral standard of God. For them to judge based on their standard instead of God’s was forbidden.
Our opinions about an action, or a lifestyle are ultimately meaningless. Something is not right or wrong because you, I, or anyone else thinks so. We are not the final judge. We are not the standard of morality.
The basis by which an action or a lifestyle is condemned is rooted in the character of the God of the universe, not in the likes and dislikes of the creation.
Your opinions are not the final judge, God is. Avoid self-righteous, hasty, unmerciful, prejudiced, and unwarranted condemnation based on human standards.
A Right Kind of Judging
Instead of communicating our thoughts about an issue, we should communicate God’s thoughts. When we communicate God’s standard we are not doing the judging, we are simply communicating God’s judgment about a certain issue. This is not wrong. In fact, this is what Christians are called to do.
In the Great Commission in Matthew 28 believers are told to teach new believers to observe ‘all that God has commanded.’ This most certainly includes God’s commands concerning morality. This is seen in the life of Christ. While some people like to reference the woman whom Jesus defended before the rock-throwing, self-righteous accusers, we should be reminded that Jesus told her to “go and sin no more.” He called her action sin, and commanded her to abandon it.
The right kind of judgment is a judgment that is communicated in love, it has the goal of pointing people to Christ’s forgiveness, and is rooted in God’s standard, which is found in His Word.
The truth is we are not the judge — God is. We are not the final authority — God is. As a result our responsibility is threefold.
(1) We should love people with the love of Christ regardless of their sin. We should not condemn someone solely because they sin differently than we do.
(2) We should boldly communicate God’s Word — including God’s standard of morality. This standard condemns homosexuality just like it does adultery, pornography, and lust. We communicate God’s standard of morality because it flows from God’s character. To hide God’s standard of morality is to mask the reality of who God is.
(3) We should clearly communicate the Gospel. People need to know that there is hope, salvation, and forgiveness available because of God’s mercy and grace through Christ. To communicate God’s condemnation of sin, but neglect to communicate the gospel is to deprive people of the remedy for their sickness.
So don’t judge based on your own standards; but by all means, communicate God’s character as well as the message of the glorious Gospel.