April 19, 2012
(Jesus said) "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" Matthew 7:1-3
Henrik Ismarker of Stockholm, Sweden, was concerned with the speeders who traveled down his street.
As a concerned citizen, he used Twitter to ask the police to do something about the problem. The police took Ismarker's request seriously and the next day began to monitor the race-track road. Sure enough, they found the situation was just as he had said.
The police began to hand out tickets. One of the first they handed out, a ticket carrying a $358 fine, went to ... you guessed it ... Henrik Ismarker.
Now you should know there is a reason we share Ismarker's story.
In the Bible there is a passage that is regularly misused. It is the passage you see above. "Judge not, that you be not judged." Many folks, even Christian folks, rip that passage out of context and use it to claim we are never supposed to judge anyone.
If we applied that to Ismarker, the passage would mean he should never have noticed the speeders, and he should never have called the police. Of course, if Ismarker had done that, evil would have continued on unchecked. So, are we supposed to judge, or are we to be accepting of everything?
A reading of the Gospels will immediately show that's not what Jesus meant, and it's certainly not what Jesus did. When the Savior commended the widow who gave her two mites to the temple treasury, when He spoke of the great faiths of the centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman, when He blessed Simon Peter's confession of faith Jesus made some positive judgments.
When He condemned the Pharisees in Matthew 23, when He upset the temple's money changers, when He rebuked Peter for trying to talk Him out of going to Jerusalem so He might die to save us Jesus made some negative judgments.
The thing we must remember about this misused passage is the judgments Christians make should be based on Scripture. We should condemn those things God condemns, encourage those things God encourages, and be silent when God is silent.
Simple -- because the judgments we use on other folks will be the same rules they apply to us. Since that's the case, our judgments must always begin and end with God's Word and will.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, it is impossible for us to live our lives without making judgments. May our blessings and our condemnations always reflect Your will as it has been applied to us: Your redeemed children of faith. In the Savior's Name, I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries