What does God say about Judging others?

The body of Christ is required to judge the motives and intentions of others in the body.  Jesus referred to this as being a fruit inspector. It reminded me of an article that I had read about a Fruit Inspector for the State of California.  He was let go because of how he had inspected the orchards in his district.  It seems he would drive down the freeway, weaving in and out of traffic while quickly glancing at the fruit orchards he was to inspect.  He would fail or pass an orchard by this method of inspection.  I can tell that none of us would want this person to be assigned to look over any orchard we may own.  A good fruit inspector would slow down, pull off the highway, drive into the orchard, turn off his engine and get out of the car.  They would walk up to the trees, climb their branches, and carefully make their way out onto a limb to inspect the fruit.  Why?  Because often the choicest fruit is found out on a limb. 

Being a good fruit inspector means you have to be knowledgeable at judging the condition of the fruit that you are looking at before you.  This skill comes only after years of training by a skilled professional who can judge the condition of the fruit.  This may be how a person learns to judge the fruit found on a fruit tree.  But what about the fruit that is evident in the life of a Christian?  Whether it be the person over you, the person sitting next to you, or a move of the Holy Spirit within the church, it would be impossible to do any of the above, without having to make an accurate judgment call.

The scripture most commonly used to come against the notion that a person is permitted to judge is found in Matthew 7:1, Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” People often use this text to stop others from bringing correction to a situation.  It is taken out of context when we fail to look at the other texts that follow verse 1.  Using it solely as your proof-text to silence others from showing the heresy or personal sins of a person is not how Jesus intended Christians to speak correction into a situation.  I have heard people use it as a way  to silence others in hopes that the fear of being judged would stop them from speaking.  

But are they correct in their understanding of the scripture?  Let’s read the verse that follows (v.2) and see what it says. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” So it appears that they are correct; the same way we judge others is how we will be judged.  I guess that would be understandable.  But again, that isn’t the end of the matter.  In verse three, Jesus continues by saying, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Note the context of its use in the text.  One person had a speck of sawdust in their eye while the other had a huge beam in theirs.  What Jesus is pointing us to is whether we are judging righteously or hypocritically.  Listen to what Jesus says in verse 4. How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

To judge correctly, we must first take the speck out of our eye so that we can see clearly enough to assist others in removing the speck from their eye. If you think it is impossible to remove the speck out of your eye or that God is not concerned about the purity of your judging others, let’s go down to verse 7 where He says, “Ask and it will be given to you’ seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” 

How To Make Correct Judgements!

Jesus builds a case in verses 1-5, by showing us how to judge correctly.  Jesus is not saying we are not to judge, but showing us how to judge, using godly discernment in each situation.  He does this by encouraging us to do an eternal inspection of any sin that may be in our life so that we may overcome it.  Nothing hinders a correct and godly judgement than sin.  If you want to be used by God in your church, community, workplace, and family then it is imperative that you listen to the Holy Spirit and be one who overcomes those areas in your life that are displeasing to God. 

Later in the chapter in verse 15, Jesus tells us to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” How could we possibly recognize a false prophet without first making a judgment call?  It is evident in this verse that Jesus is asking us to be awake and alert to what is transpiring around us.  Remember your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  That is why it is imperative that we be alert and of sober mind. 1 Peter 5:8.  If our Lord is making the statement in verse 16 that, By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” It certainly sounds like we are being trained to be ‘Fruit Inspectors’ who are set-apart and Holy unto the Lord.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there; in verse 17, the Lord continues by saying, “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Now we see that it isn’t just false prophets we are to judge but all Christians are in the same category.  So when our Lord says in verse 20 that, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” We see that it would be impossible to recognize the fruit in them without making a judgment call.

 Perhaps this will help!  1 Corinthians 6:2-3, “Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!  

Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.  In other words, if you are wrong but you have the best of intentions, then God will have greater patience and forgiveness to those who are honestly trying to do what is right, remember God knows the intent of our hearts.  I Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”

Too much of today’s judgment is hypocritical.  As you see, Matthew 7:1 is often taken out of context.  Our Lord calls each of us to be ‘fruit inspectors .’ As 1 Corinthians states, we have the authority to make judgments over things that pertain to this life, but we need to start by inspecting the fruit in our own lives first, for us to do things correctly.

Much Love,

Rex & Lois

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