Judge Not

This is an excerpt from a Church Without Walls (Facebook) Bible chat that I shared earlier this year.  Just wanted to include it on my blog as a reminder…

Matthew 7:1
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Any of us who have been brought up in church are most likely familiar with that verse. I memorized it as a child as “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I want to share something with you this morning that I can’t seem to get out of my head during the past week. I live in a small town. I’ve been here almost 20 years. There are many things I love about being here. However, one of the most difficult parts of living here is how this town seems to thrive on talking about the sin and the downfall of others. I have a dear friend who made a mistake a few years ago and her sin truly did “find her out”. It became a public scandal. It even made it into the local and state-wide newspapers. My friend is a Christian. My friend made a mistake. We are called not to judge. So, what did this town do? Did the Christians here rally around our hurt sister and lift her up?… okay, a few people did. There were a handful of believers here who reached out to her in her lowest time, but what did the rest of this town do? They turned their backs. She became a virtual pariah. People who had known her for years stopped talking to her. Her church practically “uninvited” her from coming back. People still to this day will cross the street to avoid having to walk by her. I truly believe if the majority of this town could have had its way, my friend would have been lynched right there on the courthouse lawn. It is shameful. It hurts me FOR her. I am here to tell you, friends, it is CHRISTIANS who give Christians a bad name. We are called to forgive, NOT TO JUDGE.

This week in our local paper two people I know are about to forced to travel down that same and lonely road. Because of mistakes they have made, or people around them have made, it is practically a certainty that the name-calling, the gossiping, the whispering, and the rejection will begin. All I know to do is offer support and to pray. Let me share with you a thought I had the other morning while talking to God about my sadness regarding the oppression in this town and the sick desire people here have to see other people fail. Imagine this with me for a moment if you will…

Imagine that God sent out an announcement to every person in every one of our towns and asked that we meet Him at the local movie theater on the upcoming Friday at 6 p.m. This announcement wouldn’t contain any additional information except that it was very important we be there. Wow! Wouldn’t we anxiously await the day and time which had been set? I would! We would be planning out what to wear and probably spend much of our time wondering what was so important. What was going to happen? Let’s say that the day arrives and everyone in our town starts lining up outside of the movie theater. God is inside! We’re very excited to finally find out what this is all about.

After each person in that long line is finally let inside we are all instructed to sit down in a seat in the theater. The room is packed to maximum capacity. God walks to the front and welcomes us all here. He explains that He has called us all together tonight for a very special event. Tonight on the big screen He is going to be showing us a movie. He has put together the most horrible and hidden secrets and sins of every person in the room whose last name begins with the letter “M”. I imagine that for those whose last name begins with “M” it would be a horrifying moment, but for the rest of the crowd it would force them to the edge of their seats! Wow! Front row seats to see IN PERSON the hidden secrets of those people right here in our community!!! I imagine that people would be ready to soak in each and every horrible detail to share with anyone who may have missed it and of course to post all the scandalous details on any chat room or website they could get their hands on. The movie starts and the people whose sins are being revealed have huddled in the back… heads down, ashamed. The rest of us watch on in the audience with bated breath, soaking in each and every embarrassing detail! Man, are we gonna have things to talk about NOW! Can you believe HE did that???!!! Can you believe SHE said that???!!! This is GOOD STUFF!

The movie ends, a small group is ashamed and embarrassed, but the rest of the people are like vultures. Mouths and heads full of rot to chew on for nourishment. Imagine then that God walks back out and tells the crowd to remain seated and get comfortable. The movie isn’t quite over yet. He tells us that now we are going to watch the sins of everyone else left in the room. Total silence fills the place. Are you kidding me? You mean MY sins are going to be layed out for everyone to see? You try to stand up but your hands and feet have been clamped to your seat. It wouldn’t matter even if you could get up because all of the exits have been sealed. No one is getting out and there is nowhere to go. All you can do is sit and be expose and be humiliated. What is going through your head NOW? Enjoy the show…

Friends, please think about this little scenario the next time you are tempted to participate in gossip. Please remember that we all sin. Everyone of us. Some sins are found out while others are not. Don’t be a “Christian” who rejoices in the downfall of another person. It is during those moments that these brothers and sisters most need our prayers and support. It is our obligation through the love of Christ to build them up not tear them down. Today, it may be the sins of our neighbors being exposed. Tomorrow it may be yours.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brittanynoodles
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 00:22:13

    Thanks for posting this, Amanda. I definitely understand your frustration. I too have experienced both first- and second-hand social abuse and neglect, and it makes me angry as well.

    I think it’s important to remember the context of the scripture you used. Jesus, when speaking those words, was talking to the Pharisees about hypocrisy. (Not that they got it…) He was saying, don’t judge someone for doing something when you yourself do the same thing. Now, what he meant was intended to indicate one specific action. Meaning, I cannot/ should not condemn someone for doing something specific when I am guilty of, at that moment, the same thing.

    I am just clarifying because a LOT of people misuse this verse. Let me say this as well – I don’t think you are. But a lot of people do…they generalize it to mean that there can be no accountability whatsoever within the church because we’re all sinful, and therefore we have some sort of license to sin without being approached about it. A “Let me live in sin and don’t dare say a word because the BIBLE says…” kind of attitude. Once again, I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like that was the case with your friend.

    In fact, the misuse of the above verse only proves the ignorance (and negligence of Scripture) of those who use it…because later, Paul says [in 1 Corinthians 5], “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’ ”

    So, I think Scripture allows us to draw the following conclusions:
    1- There is a definite distinction made between the church – believers – and the rest of the world.
    2- Those two groups are held to two different standards.
    3- Those within the church, while sinners, as regenerate believers should not live in open, unrepentant sin: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6).
    4 -If #3 does happen, the believer in sin should be LOVINGLY and GENTLY (Gal 6:1) confronted (using the Matthew 18 model)
    5- the “world” – everyone else, unbelievers – has no standard to be held to, and so no expectations can or should be imposed upon or expected from them.

    So, all this to say..it saddens me a lot to hear about how your friend was treated. I know that all too well… our town can be vicious. I myself am a social pariah and scapegoat in at least one significant population. I think it comes down to the fact that the town is filled with a LOT of religious, church going, LOST people….So those who know and practice the truth are often ostracized. Also, those same folks, like the Pharisees, are not transformed through Christ and therefore have no sense of forgivness or grace; it’s all a matter of legalism and who can work to look the best/not look the worst.

    I think that, regardless of the transgression, if anyone is in Christ, they should easily be forgiven by others in the Body of Christ: “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’.” (Matthew 18:21-22). So, as long as the person in the wrong has a broken, repentant heart, and they recognize and confess their fault before God, we have nothing to hold against them.

    Sorry to write a book. Stuff like this just really gets me going, I love to talk about it.

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    • mandaclair
      Jun 09, 2010 @ 07:49:54

      Brit, don’t apologize for this response. I think it is concise, thoughtful, and very well-written. I agree with you fully. Forgiveness is key. It is the cornerstone of our Christianity. If Christ had not forgiven us first…. well,…. you know the rest. Love you, gal.

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  2. Joline
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 19:58:23

    Amen! I do try to live by that thought and put myself in others places. I can’t imagine that there is ANYONE that doesn’t have something that they have done, said or thought that they wouldn’t want another to know. No one is perfect. We are all here to LEARN all of life’s lessons! Soak it all in!!!

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  3. Sherry Lawson
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 21:07:40

    Amanda..this is a great scenario…I have learned so much in the past 2 years about how easy it is for people, including myself to do something totally shameful in a moment of weakness…we forget that God is full of mercy and forgiveness for others, but want it for ourselves…

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  4. June
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 11:06:46

    A person with the name beginning with J sins everyday. I certainly don’t have the right to judge others. It’s just the human side of us. I guess gossip and judging will be present until the end of our lives. I can say for sure, I would never shun anyone who has made a mistake, we could all be there one day. May God bless that person you were talking about.

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  5. Trackback: Judge Not | Manda's Wonderland

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