“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” – Matthew 7:1
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?“ Matthew 7:16
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” – John 7:24
Aside from the 23rd Psalm, perhaps the most quoted phrase from scripture this side of the moon is from Matthew 7:1. In fact many people don’t even use the entire verse when it comes to their imperial theology. They have condensed what they believe to be the highest and most important religious doctrine in the known universe into a nice succinct statement resonating with righteousness in their voice, and holiness on their face when they say, “Judge not!”
I remember hearing Barles Charkley in a radio interview one time lambasting southern Christians because of their stand against homosexuality, and reciting this scripture like it is the trump card to end all forms of objection to the tidal wave of change in social standards. For many people who know the Bible like the back of their head, (both within professed Christianity, and without it . . .) this is the one verse, phrase, thought, doctrine, opinion that is hoisted up the highest flag pole for all people to pledge allegiance to.
The problem is as theologian and scholar Inigo Montoya said to Vizzini in the Princess Bride . . . “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Another word or thought that keeps getting attached to Christians is this label of “Discrimination.” In the recent attempts by Indiana and Arkansas to enact religious freedom protection laws, opponents began to ignorantly and maliciously try to frame the laws as “legalized discrimination.” See previous Princess Bride quote.
One of the devils most effective tools is the linguistic bait and switch. In other words society loves to use the Lord’s words, but their own dictionary. Man is not at liberty to “define” the Lord’s terms, regardless of how far society digresses, eh progresses. How is it that the Christian then can stand in their convictions without feeling the social heat, and label of being guilty of discrimination?
Know what Jesus said, and what He didn’t say. – The English language is a lazy language, in that one word can mean a multitude of things. Specifically speaking the word, or idea of “judging” has two distinct and separate meanings. One of them Jesus forbade. One of them Jesus commanded. To judge can mean either to, “render sentence, or declare final condemnation”; OR it can mean to be “discerning.” In Matthew 7:1 – Jesus forbids rendering a sentence or final assessment upon someone as though the trial is over. The fact is that one the trial is never over in this life, and two we are not in authority to be rendering the sentence to those guilty of crimes against the kingdom. In fact the entire thought is a reminder to us that the Lord takes this so serious that He warns us that we become candidates for being a recipient of the verdicts that we render. In verse 2 of Matthew 7, He said, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.“ We do not have the ability or the authority to properly, and righteously render a final verdict upon anyone. It is this kind of “judgment” that the Lord forbids.
But . . .
There is another kind of “judgment” the Lord commands. What the world calls “discrimination” Jesus calls “Discernment.” Matthew 7:16, (in the same chapter, and in the same sermon, by the way) Jesus said here is discernment. Speaking of false prophets Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Furthermore in John 7:24 Jesus gave the command TO judge. He didn’t say “Don’t Judge” He said “don’t judge unrighteously.” He said, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” In our own simple language Jesus told us it is not a sin to call sin, sin! It is not a sin to see sin as sin. It is not a sin to say that sin is a sin. It is not a sin respond to sin as a sin.
What Christians are called to do, is to be discerning. To recognize sin, repent of it in their own life, and avoid participating in it in other’s lives.
Now what is not Christian, is for the owner of a grocery store or restaurant to deny selling food to a homosexual, in the same sense that it is not Christ-like for him to deny selling food to a drunk, adulterer, drug addict, or a brawler. There is no example, or command, in the Bible for Christians to refuse to basic needs in life to anyone.
What is for a Christian is to discern when they should not participate in aiding and abetting a particular sin. It is one thing for a Homosexual to go into a grocery store and buy a cake for their so-called wedding. It is another thing altogether to demand that the baker in that grocery store cater, participate in, and endorse their so-called wedding. It is one thing for a drunk to come into a grocery store and buy a six-pack of Pepsi’s, and it is another thing to expect the owner of that grocery store to supply his upcoming block party with alcohol.
Discernment and Discrimination are NOT synonymous. Neither is discernment forbidden by the Lord, but on the contrary it is commanded. The Christian cannot fall prey to letting society hijack the Words of God, and paste them in their own dictionary. Learning what the Bible says, and does not say for every believer and unbeliever would be a magnificent change worth making.