Cut Out Those Criticisms
ALTHOUGH criticisms and judgmental comments are common human traits, the Lord Jesus Christ cautioned against them. On many occasions, during His earthly ministry, He warned us to, “judge not.” It is contrary to the principle of love for anyone to turn the family or community to a law court and appoint himself a judge or magistrate over others. The true child of God possesses a new heart and a new spirit. A critical spirit that makes someone to condemn and cut down everyone and everything around him is not the Spirit of Christ. Love is of God and the perpetual state of mind that watches for others’ faults while overlooking his own is contrary to fairness, kindness and love. Demanding very high standard of love from others, while he himself demonstrates low moral standard is un-Christian and unscriptural. We must first remove the beam in our eyes, before we can help extract the mote in other people’s eyes (Matthew 7:5). After examining ourselves, after genuine repentance, and transparent righteousness in our own lives, we can correct and counsel our fellow brother (Colossians 3:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15).
Just what does it mean to “judge not”? If we do not understand what Christ means by this command, we would not be able to properly obey it. Does it mean that we must never see, evaluate or correct any wrong thing others do? Does it mean that we should not hold others to any standard of behaviour, or that we should be indulgent and tolerant, accepting whatever anyone does as right? Does it mean we should cover up sin and wrongdoing, leaving everyone to his own conscience and never correcting anyone? We must take all the words of Jesus together and not interpret one to contradict another. In this same chapter of the Bible where He commands us to “judge not”, the Lord also says: “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). To do that, we have to see and point out “the mote” as wrong. Christ says, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs. ” (Matthew 7:6). To obey this command of Christ, it is necessary to observe and form an opinion about the character of others. Furthermore, He says, “Beware of false prophets … Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20). The false prophets come “in sheep’s clothing” and they appear innocent, harmless and friendly. If we do not examine and judge their fruit, how can we disapprove their character and know them as “ravenous wolves, inwardly”? In His teaching on dealing with offences against us (Matthew 18:15-17), Christ also tells us not to be neutral when others do wrong (Luke 17:3,4).
“Judge not.” What then does it mean? “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). These are the words of Jesus, our Saviour and Lord. Life is full of unlawful judgment in our daily interaction with one another. Men judge and condemn one another and increase hatred and condemnation in the human family. The Lord is calling us to live by the law of love. Our priority in life should be to live in righteousness and grow in grace and holiness each day. We should be more strict and firm with ourselves and compassionate and tender towards others, rather than demanding much from others while we are lenient with ourselves. Those, who demand perfection from others, while they tolerate imperfection in themselves, will always be guilty of unlawful judgment. “Examine yourselves” and judge yourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged ”(1 Corinthians 11:31). It is unwise to correct and counsel others to be righteous and holy, and be so eager that they get to heaven, while we excuse our sin and unrighteousness, on our way to hell!
Examples abound in the Bible of people, who carelessly and rashly judged others. Christ cautions us against: (1) hypocritically judging others, condemning in others what we excuse in ourselves. (2) He warns us of hastily judging others, condemning others before the facts of the case are known. (3) His words rebuke us for presumptuously judging others, jumping to uncharitable conclusions on the basis of unconfirmed rumours. (4) He forbids unfairly judging others, ignoring everything that is favourable to our brother and not giving him a fair hearing. (5) Christ’s teaching restrains us from unnecessarily judging others, condemning our fellow brother on something the Scriptures are silent about. (6) He teaches us against unmercifully judging others, instructing us that those who have received mercy must also show mercy and refrain from judging. (7) He reproves us for officially, and officiously judging others when no one has made us a leader, ruler, judge or magistrate over them.
Jesus Christ commands us to be clean and pure from pride and spiritual blindness first, before attempting to judge, correct and guide our brother to live righteously. He also says, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” He does not want us to be hasty, rash or superficial. No, we must not be shallow or careless with others’ character or life; we should be thoughtful, slow and kind, considering facts scripturally before arriving at any conclusion. “Judge righteous judgment.”
REFERENCES: Matthew 7:1,2; John 7:24; Luke 6:37; John 7: 51; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:16,17; Isaiah 29:20,21; Romans 14:10-13; John 8:26,44-4; Genesis 38:24-26; 2 Samuel 12:1-7; Job 22:1-10; 32:3; 42:7-10; Ezekiel 16:52; John 8:1-7,9-11; Acts 28:1-5; Romans 2:1-3,17-24; Proverbs 31:9; Zechariah 8:16; John 5:30; 1 Samuel 3:11-14; 1 Corinthians 5:1-3,11-13; 6:1-10; 11:27-32; Revelation 2:14-16,20-23. (All scriptures are from the Kings James Version of the Bible).
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