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The subject of judgement is widely discussed in the Christian world. It is also a subject that generates a lot of controversy.

And that is the problem with many passages in the Bible. If they are not analysed in depth, then we become pawns that satan will push around and make act in a way that God never intended.

One of the most used passages regarding judgement is therefore this example from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus Himself is addressing the crowd. At first glance, some of His words seem clear enough if you isolate the verses. But isolating a verse is the last thing you should do if you want to understand a passage in the Bible.

Luke 6:37  “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

This statement of Jesus is therefore often used to say that we should not judge others. In most cases, it is said that the mere fact of expressing an unfavourable opinion about a person constitutes judgement, and that Jesus condemned this. As a result, many Christians who are a bit touchy or self-centred jump at the chance to say that they are being judged, for example, when they are given a negative opinion about one of their attitudes. They then accuse the other person of judging them, and thereby accuse them of a negative attitude towards them. In the end, this kind of person, still blinded by pride and lack of knowledge, only practices what they accuse others of doing to them.

We could then see it this way from such a person:

"I denounce a negative opinion about a person, in order to denounce the fact that the person uses a negative opinion about me".   

It is easy to see how ridiculous and inconsistent such an attitude is.

But this is not the answer to understanding what Jesus meant in Luke 6. For that we need to go back to the context of Jesus' words and return to verse 20.

Luke 6:20-23 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

 

As we read this passage and put it in context, Jesus is giving His first teaching to a large crowd about the kingdom of God. Jesus is presenting salvation to people who have never heard of it: they are Jews. They knew they had to wait for their messiah, but most of them had no idea that he would come to them in this way and with this kind of talk.

So we can see that Jesus uses language that I call 'strong comparative extremes'. Indeed we can see that Jesus uses extremes like:

I have just paraphrased the above 4 verses in context to give us a deeper understanding of how Jesus brings this teaching.

We can now continue with the next 3 verses.

Luke 6:24-26 “But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

This time, in the same context, Jesus begins to talk about the negative side: deliberately refusing to enter the kingdom of God, through the new birth.

Now Jesus moves on to another stage of His teaching. He begins to describe the attitudes of someone who has accepted the kingdom of God through the new birth. Here Jesus describes a way of thinking that goes far beyond what most people in this world might have. He is saying, in other words, that entering the kingdom through the new birth must be accompanied by repentance, not just an acceptance of going to God. This acceptance must be accompanied by a change of thinking in many areas of our lives, which is a definition of repentance.

In the passage below, Jesus says in other words that the life of a person who has inherited the kingdom must be different from that of a person who has not. 

Luke 6:28-36 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

We now come to this verse on judgement, again in the same context describing a person who has accepted to enter the kingdom through the new birth. All this context we have just seen was necessary in order to understand now this statement of Jesus about judging our neighbour. It is in line with all His talk, using strong and extreme comparisons in both positive and negative senses.

Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

In this context, then, Jesus says not to judge your neighbour. If Jesus was talking here about not giving a negative opinion or a negative comparison about someone's attitude, then He would have been at odds with Himself from the beginning of His discourse. Indeed, Jesus has been making statements using negative and positive comparisons since the first verse of these passages. The interpretation of this verse 37 does not show that it is wrong to tell a person a truth that positions them in an action where they are doing wrong. 

 

It is very interesting that in this verse 37 the first word "judge" and the second "judged" are exactly the same words in the original. It is often easier to take things in reverse to better understand an interpretation of the Bible.

God's judgment here is the fact of being judged unworthy of holiness after our death in this world, in the case that a person has not gone through the new birth, and therefore does not have the sacrifice of Jesus for their benefit.

We can therefore safely infer that the first word 'judge' in this passage describes the same attitude as God's, because Jesus uses it twice in the same sentence.

We could paraphrase by saying: "If you judge your neighbour saying that he does not have eternal life because your conception of salvation is not the right one, then this shows that you do not have the truth of salvation, and God will judge you in the same way because you have not in fact gone through the new birth to have such thoughts, therefore do not do it, because you will miss the truth".

We then realise that judging is not always what we think it is. Anyway, when the Bible says not to judge, and even in other passages, it is not a question of not giving an opinion, even a negative one, about a person.

 

Of course this advice must be accompanied by a solution, and said in love of our neighbour. This is in fact what Jesus did throughout the passages we have studied in this short teaching. Jesus lovingly, but precisely and plainly, pointed out certain attitudes and thoughts that Jews, and later non-Jews, would have to adopt in order to enter the kingdom of God.

So it is not a question of using judgement as a cop-out, saying in other words: "You are judging me!", but which actually means: "Don't show me my points of improvement because I prefer to stay in my comfort zone".

Helping a person by lovingly showing them and giving them the solution to get rid of a bad attitude, while we ourselves practice that good attitude, does not mean judging our brother or sister in Christ.

Of course, it is not a question of becoming a Gospel prosecutor, going to people to straighten them out, so to speak.

The first rule in this area is to only point out an area of improvement that you are already doing yourself. That is to say, if I see a brother or sister who often loses his or her temper, I will only be able to talk to him or her about it if I do not have similar problems in my life. This is simply because I cannot pass on what I do not have. 

The Bible teaches us not to judge, this is in a sense not to accuse your brother or sister of a false claim that is not true. But also in the sense that we may contradict a brother or sister in one of his or her attitudes without at the same time bringing a solution to get out of it.

Jesus clarifies this important point for us, but also that pointing out an area of improvement in peace, and providing a solution, is not a judgment at all.

John 12:47  And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

Not judging is therefore not closing our eyes to evil without saying anything. But if I may make a remark, it is imperative to respect these rules which are: To do it in love, by proposing a solution, but also to practice what we point out to the other.

 

 

Luke 6:37  (The Message) “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier.

(AMP) “Do not judge [others self-righteously], and you will not be judged; do not condemn [others when you are guilty and unrepentant], and you will not be condemned [for your hypocrisy]; pardon [others when they truly repent and change], and you will be pardoned [when you truly repent and change].

(God’s Word) “Stop judging, and you will never be judged. Stop condemning, and you will never be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

(Living Bible) “Never criticize or condemn—or it will all come back on you. Go easy on others; then they will do the same for you.

 


Bye for now...