Each of us have strong convictions about certain things. Others may have different opinions. When you interact with someone who disagrees, how do you handle it? I was listening to a study on Romans where they talk about disputes within the church. Some of these disputes are based on the gospel and salvation and should be disputed. While other matters are opinions, and we ought to respect other’s convictions and learn to love each other first and not quarrel over things that do not matter. That is what Jesus is trying to tell us in this parable.
“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. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“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.”
In today’s society many people quote this verse saying that we should accept their behaviors and be ok with whatever they are doing. Of course we are not to judge. It is not our job to condemn. But it is often misused so that they can go on in their sin without anyone calling them out. But the Bible also says that the light will reveal the darkness and people do not want others to see their darkness. But as you read on, Jesus does not say, nor does He ever say, to ignore sin. We accept the sinner and love them, for after all we are sinners saved by grace. But He never condones the sin or say that it is ok. He also says to share the gospel. In this scripture as you read on, He doesn’t say to ignore the speck in your brother’s eye, but to not be a hypocrite and remove the plank from your own eye. He says to first get right with God so that you can help others be free of their sin. As a believer, we are to lift each other up and help each other when they are struggling.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
When we see someone going astray, we show love by pointing them in the right direction. We need to be loving, but not compromising. Even Paul did this to Peter, which I believe Peter took to heart and commended him for it.
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
2 Peter 3:14-18
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
As brothers and sisters, one of the ways we show love is by holding each other accountable and encouraging one another. If someone is struggling, whether it be in life circumstances, or a particular sin or stronghold, we need to guide that person in the right direction and pray for them. We should also be open to others doing the same for us. Jesus says that others will know we are His by our love. We need to show those who do not believe love as well. We need to share the gospel and what God has done for us. We need to shine our light in a world of darkness. Not all will accept that love or the truth. Many will reject it. We need to give it to God and let Him work on their hearts.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, though, no matter how hard you try, the truth just doesn’t sink in. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when he said to not give pearls to swine (not meaning that those who do not accept Christ are pigs, but for some, God’s word means nothing to them, and they will meet you with hostility when you try to explain that what they are doing is wrong). All we can do is pray for that person and leave it in God’s hands…and love them. He is the one who saves, and He is the one who can change hearts. We cannot. All we can do is share what God has done for us.
One other aspect of the topic of judging is discernment. There is a difference. A friend of mine says he does not judge, but is a fruit inspector. In other words, although we can often be fooled by someone who pretends to be a believer, we cna see the evidence of those who are followers of Christ. When one becomes a child of God, there will be a change. If there is not, you have to look at yourself and ask if you are really saved. Reading 1 John is a good way to assess. Also, when hearing a teacher or pastor, we need to discern the truth. We need to be in the word and be sure that the teachings that you hear follow along with what the Bible tells us. and also, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 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. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Sometimes we do need to judge. In this case, it’s called discernment. We need to be sure that the people we learn from and those we hang around with are telling the truth and living it. When we choose a church, we need to make sure they teach and follow what the teachings of the Bible say. No compromise. Salvation is through Christ alone. Jesus is the Son of God. He is God. God created all things and there is no other. That should be the core of any church. And they should show love to others. And, whether we agree or disagree we should always love. No matter what, no matter who.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Therefore “IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.