There exists so much misunderstanding in Christendom on how to interpret the bible relating to the judgment of others, and so in this sermon, we will attempt to see what it means to judge others according to the Bible.
“Judge not so that you be not judged. (Mathew 7:1)
Christians have always misunderstood the above scriptural text to the point where they desist from correcting fellow believers who err; all in the name of avoiding judging others.
And if we look at it from that light; then we will be going against so many scriptures that tell us to correct a sinner from the error of his ways.
For instance, in James 5:19-20; the scripture tells us that anyone who is able to turn a sinner from the error of his ways will save a soul, and in so doing cover a multitude of sins
To escape this misconception, we must be able to establish the understanding that; correcting someone simply entails pointing out the wrong that he or she has done and helping that person to change.
What does the Bible say about judging correctly?
In order to fully understand what the Bible says about judging others correctly; we need to check our scriptural text to discover those Jesus was making the reference to.
But before then, let us see how the dictionary defines the word “judgment.”
Judgment is defined by the dictionary.
When you go to the dictionary; you will understand that judgment involves deciding other people’s fate, which can only be done by the judges in the law court.
And this means that anyone who attempts to judge a fellow human must become a judge in the law court.
Those Jesus was referring to in our scriptural text.
If we read the main portion of this topic in its whole context; we will discover that Jesus was making this reference to the teachers of the law, also called scribes and Pharisees, whose duty it was to condemn people that broke the Law of Moses (Mathew 7:2-5).
Sinners judging sinners for sinning differently?
In order to be able to answer the above question, let us review the story of the woman caught in adultery and that of the Republican and the tax collector.
- In John 8:3-22, the story of the woman caught in adultery helps us to have a clearer understanding of the fact that; sinners are not supposed to judge a fellow sinner, notwithstanding what kind of sin the other has committed.
- In Luke 18:10-14, we can see in the parable of the Pharisees and Republicans that owning up to our wrongs, or simply seeing ourselves as imperfect beings is a means of escaping judging others.
To sum up the instances above, we can discover that judging someone means condemning that person to face whatever punishment that accompanies the law he breaks; either openly, as in the case of the woman caught in adultery, or secretly i.e. within our minds, as in the case of the publican and tax collector.
Or worst still through backbiting, especially when we ourselves are guilty of the same sin in one way or the other.
How to judge others correctly
1. Those who teach others should also teach themselves.
In Romans 2:21-23, the scripture admonishes those who teach others to also teach themselves.
It says that you should not steal if you tell others not to steal, and you should not commit adultery if you are telling others not to do so, etc.
Therefore, a teacher or anybody who points out the sins of others and tries to correct them; must, first of all, be sure he himself has not committed any kind of sin.
Especially the one he is trying to correct in people; else he will be guilty of judging others as the scripture above points out.
2. Use gentle and peaceful attitudes when trying to correct others.
Secondly, anyone who attempts to correct a fellow human must make sure they do so in a very gentle and peaceful manner.
And afterward, look out for and be able to overcome the temptations to sin that will immediately invade him as the next scripture helps us to understand:
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourselves lest you be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
Beloved the secret to the whole matter is that; the very things you judge or try to correct people through teaching, preaching, or any means is what the devil will present before you to see whether you will be able to overcome it as you want others to overcome.
And should you ever fail in that test, then your whole preaching becomes vain and bitter.
For instance, if a preacher goes to a public square and derives his preaching from this text: (For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ – 2 Corinthians 2:17).
And uses it to preach against the big ministers who sell out scriptural pamphlets, devotions, tapes, cd etc. as selling the word of God
As soon as he finishes preaching, someone offers him money and says, “man of God use this to buy soap and wash your clothes”, the preacher must be smart enough to understand that that person is trying to test and see if he was in that same position whether he would not be looking for a way to sell his own sermons also.
In other words, they will be testing to see if he is able to practice what he preaches by not receiving money from people he preaches the word of God.
If the preacher does not recognize this and goes ahead to receive the money; the person and others who will observe it will never ever believe nor practice what he preached therein and any other sermon he will ever attempt to preach to them any other time.
Let me hereby share one of my own personal experiences that relate to this very point.
An illustration from my personal experience.
I once went to a market square to preach, and the topic of my sermon was about love being the greatest of all the commandments.
And you know that preaching involves every other aspect of practicing what the law says including the works of charity.
So when I was done preaching, I spotted three old men with grey hairs sitting at one corner of the market shades and one of them called out to me to hear everyone saying “Give me your bible”.
And the bible I was using to preach was an expensive Efik Bible I just bought, and I heard myself saying this is the bible I always use in preaching but just then I felt a force take off from my bike I had already mounted and I walked towards the men and gave him the bible.
People there started to exclaim ‘Come and take your bible so that you will use it in preaching”. Others even said the man will not be able to preach the way I did.
But I didn’t wait for any further action as I mounted my bike and left off.
It was on the way that the Holy Spirit communicated to me that “that was a test to see if I have been practicing what I preach” and that if I had refused to give the man the bible all that I preached in that market would have been in vain because everyone would be saying ‘this yeye preachers they preach what they cannot practice but wants us to do so.
And in so doing I would have never been able to make anyone repent.
But since I had given the Bible to that man if I go back to the market now I will hear the words that were going around e.g. “That is the kind of preachers we want” “That young man is fit to preach because we have seen him practice it right before our eyes”.
Thus my action which gave rise to these very words were the reason people in that market will believe and started to practice what I preached.
And you can see the reason why the scribes and Pharisees; who never knew this, were unable to practice what they preached; as Jesus showed us in the discourse of Mathew 23.
Therefore, if those who correct or judge would have this understanding; they will be able to perfectly render corrections and judgments as the heavenly Father and His Son want here on earth.
Finally, I think we can all have a clearer picture and can be able to strike the difference between correcting and judging.
As well as why those who correct or judge are unable to practice what they wish others to do.