Devotionals by Pastor Rick McDaniel

 

SHOULD WE JUDGE?

Matthew 7:1 says, "Judge not, lest you be judged." This is the Bible's most misinterpreted, misused and misunderstood scripture verse. What makes the verse so important is it teaches a crucial truth about human relationships. If this verse is used incorrectly much damage can occur and people can get unnecessarily hurt. Jesus teaches a very important and helpful principle which is there is a crucial balance between harmful judgmentalism and necessary judging.

Judgmentalism is when we condemn others. Jesus uses the imagery of a speck of wood in your friend's eye versus a log in your own eye (v. 3-5). The message is vivid, shocking and ludicrous. Before you judge someone else for their small imperfection make sure you first have dealt with your own big imperfection. While condemning others we don't see our own shortcomings. We can judge visible sins like adultery or cheating but minimize less visible sins like envy or gossip. We may even point out the faults of others to shift the focus from our own sin.

Judging and condemning are always easy to do but they are not our job. It is hypocritical to see the sins of others but not our own judgmental attitude. When we have such an attitude we have forced out love. Judgmentalism invites retaliation and hinders fellowship. Many times we may know only part of the story and we certainly do not know a person's motives. The non-Christian will bristle at a condemning attitude almost every time. Love has won over many people, condemnation has won over very few.

The opposite extreme of judgmentalism is naïve acceptance of anything. Right after Jesus talks about specks and logs He talks about dogs and pigs (v. 6). His point is animals can't discern what is of value. The early church used this verse to teach judgment in whether someone was in fact a true believer. There is a place for necessary judging. Judging is the exercise of critical thinking and it is needed on occasion. In fact, Jesus said in John 7:24, "Don't judge by appearances, judge by what is right." Jesus is telling us we should express our opinion on right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil.

Judging is using wise discernment. Some quote Matthew 7:1 to denounce anyone who would expose the sins, shortcomings or error of others. If in the public realm a Christian leader speaks out about moral behavior or even simply answers a media question he or she may be charged with judging. It is ironic in judging someone for judging, you are in fact judging him or her!

We are not to judge on appearances or hearsay. In order to properly judge, correct or discipline all the facts must be available and evaluated. With proper discernment we can make appropriate judgments. We cannot fail to make essential distinctions between right and wrong simply because we fear the accusation of judging.

People make judgments every single day. The idea we should not judge is simply unrealistic. The better question is what is the standard for judging. For a Christ follower the Bible is the authority for right and wrong. We judge not based on our own opinions but rather based on God's opinion.

Balance is always a challenge to achieve. Christ followers who are condemning and judgmental have done great harm. There are many who will not darken the door of a church or listen to a message from a Christian leader because of the hurt they have experienced. It does the cause of Christ no good if people feel condemned by those who should love them. On the other hand truth must be proclaimed. A Christ follower cannot be fearful to speak about right and wrong. To be intimidated, to be marginalized, to be silenced for speaking the truth can never be tolerated. Properly interpreting Matthew 7:1, understanding its balanced message and applying it consistently is needed in the church, communities and culture.

 

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Pastor Rick McDaniel gives a relevant and Biblical perspective on various life topics ranging from relationships to business, from marriages to health. Rick is known for presenting messages that have practical points which can be applied in everyday life. His inspirational style has motivated thousands of people to live more impacting lives.

About Pastor Rick McDaniel

Rick McDaniel is a noted author, international communicator and church leader. He is the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, Virginia.  The church is known for its contemporary and innovative services and has a worldwide reach through www.highimpactchurch.tv. McDaniel has earned three degrees including a masters degree from Boston College and an advanced degree from Duke University and is the author of five books including his latest "5 Habits of Happy People." He has traveled and spoken at conferences and churches worldwide spanning six continents. Through his writing and speaking he has become an evangelical voice to the culture on faith matters.

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