In Matthew 7, a part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that we should not judge, we should be aware that the way we judge we will be judged, and that we will know followers by the fruit of their lives. Anyone else confused? It would seem that Jesus is telling us to both judge and not judge. What are we to do? This we will know followers by the fruit of their lives. Anyone else confused? This is an instance where context helps us. Too often, Matthew 7:1 is quoted with the force like a bat hitting a ball. I have often heard people throw out this verse as a way of stopping a conversation or to appease their guilt.
I mean, Jesus said it. Right?
He did, and He said many other things too. He mentions immediately after verse 1 that how we judge is important and we can identify the type of person someone is by the production of their life. The way I evaluate a person becomes the important part. The word judge in this verse carries with it a sense of finality. Jesus is leading us away from being the final word on a person.
I have always loved to read and am thankful my children do as well. I share something with them, as it was shared with me, as we stand in the library trying to choose the books to checkout. One will pick up a book and look at it and then put it back. The book was not taken because it didn’t look good enough to read. They judged it to be useless to them. How often do we do this with people? We look at someone and make a critical, and often unchangeable, decision about them. We judge them in a way that is final. We write them off. We put them back on the shelf. We will not befriend them and at best might evangelize but will not think hopeful of the outcome.
We have pounded the gavel. The verdict is rendered without appeal. Jesus tells us to not treat others in this way. Before you pound the gavel on your neighbor, or that date your child brings by, or the preacher you don’t understand, take time to build a relationship and a bridge of understanding. Here are a few things to do:
1. Engage them in conversation.
2. Examine their spiritual history
3. Evaluate the fruit.
4. Encourage them through prayer.
5. Embrace the chance for God to work.
In this way each of us give the gavel to God and leave the final verdicts to Him. We simply love people, follow Jesus, and build bridges for people to experience God. In this way each of us give the gavel to God and leave the final verdict to Him.