by Mike Ratliff
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “And do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:36-38 (LSB)
Before we go into the consequences of improper judging of others, I need to clear up a point. When a Christian apologist, preacher, or teacher presents a case against false teachings or unbelief according to God’s will they are not guilty of improper judging. In fact, scripture directs us to do this.
16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the preaching might be fulfilled, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 2 Timothy 4:16-17 (LSB)
God wants His truth proclaimed. We must confront false teachings about God and His ways. However, this must be done within His will and Spirit. There is also a huge difference between slander and correction. Slander seeks to harm while correction seeks to heal. Proper biblical correction is not the same thing as “judging” in the context of Jesus’ admonitions in Luke 6 and Matthew 7.
What are the consequences of hypocritically judging others? Carefully read the passage I placed at the beginning of this chapter. (Luke 6:36-38) The parallel passage is Matthew 7:1-5
1 “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with what measure you measure, it will be measured to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 (LSB)
For a proper understanding of both passages, we must put them in context. Both are the words of Jesus during His “Sermon on the Mount.” We find “The Beatitudes” in Matthew 5:3-12 and Luke 6:20-23. The rest of Jesus’ sermon in these passages is a detailed account of the Christlike character of those who attain the standard in “The Beatitudes” contrasted against our “Natural Man” character. In other words, only the Christlike character is not hypocritical.
We have already seen that humility marks the Christlike character. Let’s take a closer look. The Greek word translated as “Judge” in Matthew 7:1 means to “pass sentence or give one’s opinion in a private matter.” The context or usage in this passage tells us this is not talking about a Judge who formally judges a case. Jesus was talking about how we judge each other by comparing them with our own standards or values. It hints at gossip. Since hypocrisy is what Jesus is attacking here then we must conclude that He is talking about our tendency to belittle or demean others in an attempt to elevate self. The Greek verb usage (tense, mood, and voice) of “Judge” in v1 is present, imperative, active. The second word “not” is the participle, which Jesus gave as a command to stop “judging” as continuous or repeated action. He was telling his disciples and us that our natural tendency is to walk through our lives desperately trying to elevate ourselves over anyone we can drag down with our hypocritical attacks. His command is to stop doing this. Why? What is the consequence of living like this? The second part of v1 tells us, “…that you be not judged.” Jesus’ command is one to stop unfair, hypocritical tearing down of others so that God will not mete out judgment against us. Does this mean that if we are gossips God will cause others to gossip about us? If we bully others, will God allow others to bully us? On the other hand, is Jesus talking about our future when we stand before our Lord at the Judgment Seat? I believe the Lord is speaking of both. If we walk through this life as believers who refuse to repent of judging others like this then we will experience the same treatment as God divinely sends “judgment” into our lives to bring us to repentance. If we refuse to repent then we have the terror of the Judgment Seat awaiting us.
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you view your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, TO ME EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS TO GOD.”
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather judge this–not to put a stumbling block or offense before a brother. Romans 14:10-13 (LSB)
The admonition is that the tearing down of others by our “judging” them will be something that is “judged” against us when we give an account before the Lord. I do not know about you, but that terrifies me. I know that unless I walk by the spirit by Walking the Walk by Faith that I most definitely do this. Why? We all do this as we interact with others; drive our cars or any other activity with a temporal focus. The only time we are not “temporally focused” is while we walk in the spirit. With that understanding, how can we walk by “judging not?” Either we walk in the spirit (humble) or we walk according to the flesh (prideful).
The next verse says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2) Again, we see the consequence of refusing to “judge not.” Interestingly, Jesus tells to what extent we will suffer judgment if we continue in our hypocrisy. What is it? If I judge others extremely harshly then I will receive like judgment. This should strike terror in our hypocritical hearts. Why doesn’t it? Most believers are convinced that they are doing the best they can and God understands. He knows they cannot be Christlike so it is okay to remain fleshly. People who believe that are in for a very rude awakening when they stand before the Lord. God knows we cannot be Christlike in our own abilities just as He knows we cannot repent and believe unless He regenerates us. However, all of the regenerate have the ability to obey the Lord. That got your attention didn’t it? Carefully read the following passages.
3 And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6 (LSB)
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the One who gives new birth loves also the one who has been born of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everything that has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the overcoming that has overcome the world–our faith. 1 John 5:1-4 (LSB)
The regenerate should love the Lord, abide in Him, walk in the spirit, and cooperate with God in their sanctification so they will become Christlike. The Christlike believers humbly walk the Walk by Faith. How do they do this?
Walking the Walk by Faith
- Fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
- Come to Jesus (Matthew 22:28)
- Take on the Yoke of Christ (Matthew 11:29)
- Learn what Christ teaches (Matthew 11:29)
- Present our bodies as living sacrifices by the mercies of God (Romans 12:1)
- Keep the Lord’s commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
- Renew our minds and become transformed unto Christ-likeness (Romans 12:2)
- Discern God’s Will and submit to it (Romans 12:2)
This list is from my book, Walking the Walk by Faith. God uses this process to mature us unto Christlikeness. Our part is to Abide in Christ, Walk the Walk by Faith and Run the Race God has set before us. Will we automatically reach a point in our maturing path where we will quit judging others if we do all of this? That depends upon how diligent we are in pursing God. If we constantly judge ourselves instead of judging others then we are actually humbling ourselves. If we do this then God does not have to humble us. It is not nearly as distressing to humble oneself as it is when we are humiliated by God.
Look again at Luke 6:36-38. What happens when we refuse to judge others? In this passage, judging others is equated with unforgiveness. That makes sense. If we are unforgiving then we are dominated by pride and are, therefore, hypocritical. Those who refuse to forgive are condemning in spirit. Their motives are destruction and hurt towards their targets. They are judging them as unworthy, but that judgment is based completely within unfairness and hypocrisy. No wonder the judging believer will be judged. However, what happens when we don’t judge, don’t condemn and do forgive others? We will not be judged or condemned and we will be forgiven. In fact, Jesus equates this humble spirit as one who “gives.” He is telling us that the opposite of judging others is showing mercy to others. It is an act of giving grace to them. When we do that what happens? “…and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Jesus isn’t talking about getting stuff in this passage. He is telling us that if we will be merciful and gracious then God will grant us mercy and grace far exceeding anything we can image. However, the consequences of judging others with a critical spirit of unforgiveness and condemnation will result in the same coming back upon us beyond all of our fears.
What will it be then? Are we going to continue to foolishly abase others in a futile attempt to elevate self or are we going to allow God’s grace and mercy to flow through us to everyone around us as He commands us to do? The consequences of the former are terrifying. The rewards for letting God work through us according to His will are blessings beyond compare. I believe the choice is simple, but the ability to make it happen comes from God.
Soli Deo Gloria!