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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

March 11, 2016

To judge or not to judge

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

We are familiar with Jesus' exhortation concerning judgment in Matthew 7, verses 1-2: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

Sometimes Jesus' words are misunderstood to mean that we should not judge or evaluate any person or situation. Is that what Jesus meant?

In life we cannot avoid making evaluations. How are we supposed to act if we were to be a witness to a crime where innocent people are hurt? Should we remain silent and not judge the situation?

The context of Jesus's words in Matthew 7 shows us that He expects us to be able to evaluate people and situations. In Matthew 7, verse 6 He tells us:

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."

Of course, Jesus is not talking about dogs and swine in the literal sense. He is referring to people! He is telling us that some people's attitude toward the precious truth of the Bible makes them similar to a dog or swine, because they are incapable of appreciating that precious truth. Instead, they would despise it.

Our Lord and Master compares such people to dogs and swine – not a flattering comparison by any means! And He expects us to be able to recognize such people, so we do not case precious pearls in front of them. But how can we recognize them if we are not allowed to make evaluations?

Jesus continues on to warn us about false teachers: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15). How are we to recognize false prophets if we are not allowed to evaluate them?

What should be the basis of our evaluation in all these situations?

"You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit" (Matthew 7:16-18).

Matthew 7 shows us that Jesus does not prohibit us from making assessments or evaluations about people or situations, when it is necessary to do so. In verses 1-2 of the chapter He refers to judging in the sense of the judgment that only He can make: "The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son" (John 5:22).

We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12). Let's be careful not to usurp His responsibility!

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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