Deconstructing Christian Cliche – Part I

judge not 1

Along our walk of faith we find and learn Christian clichés – those pesky little phrases that emerge from the colloquial pond as tried and true nuggets of wisdom supposedly drawn from timeless biblical truth, but in the end, turn out to be more rooted in human imagination than in divine understanding.

Three such impostors making the top of the chart are these – “We should not judge others”, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin”, and “the Lord will not give you more than you can handle.”  These sayings are repeated often in an attempt to spread wisdom and comfort in life through advice and conservation; however, are they really accurate? Do these comments have their root in God or man?

We will take a look at each statement over the next few weeks and examine it biblically to see if it stands or falls. First, let’s look at: We should not judge others.

“Judge not lest you be judged” is probably the most abused statement by both believers and unbelievers alike being thrown around in debates and arguments more frequently than a well-worked pizza crust. It is found in the gospel of Matthew – “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1 Certainly, on the surface this looks rather compelling.  However, context is the text in which God breathed out His Word and so we must capture the essence of the passage by expanding our view to the next verses. Here’s what happens when we do:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 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? 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? 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

When the entire context is considered, the actual thrust of this warning passage turns out to be speaking directly to those who are hypocritical in their judgments.  Take the log out of your own eyes first and then you will be able to see clearly. The command here is a call to self-examination of sin, not a call to cease judging others.  Keep in mind also that judging here is about discernment not condemnation. God alone condemns.

Other passages help us to see our rightful role in judging, such as John 7:24, where Christ, in dealing with supposed Sabbath law violations said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Paul spoke about our need to judge small legal matters and disputes in 1 Corinthians 6:3 ” Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”

All throughout Scripture we see both the need to discern correctly and to the need to avoid hypocrisy.  Learn to judge through having the same mind of Christ and exercise humility through patience and peace.

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About ostrakinos

Pastoral sojourner in the world. Raising up four daughters. Citizen of earth. Resident of heaven. Taking ten looks at Christ.

Posted on September 5, 2009, in Apologetics, Doctrine/Theology, Experiential / Application, Pastoral and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is really ironic that you posted this. Just today, my family and I went through that exact passage for our family Sunday study. So I have a question, does Matthew 7:6 fit with this? Or is it separate.

  2. Pastor: I just came across your blog and have been enjoying the series on “cliches.” I particularly enjoy the one on judging. I agree with you 100%, “the command is a call to self-examination.

    I’ve never understood why Christians have such a hard time with this passage. Ayn Rand the atheist philosopher and author understood full well what the passage means. In one of her books, (I don’t remember which) she stated, “Judge and be prepared to be judged by the same criteria.”

    Good posts. Thanks; Mason

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