A few years ago, a news report featured a famous athlete who was considering running for political office. When the news correspondent asked about abortion and gay-marriage, the potential candidate became visibly upset. He criticized Christians, and ended the interview saying, “Doesn’t the Bible say ‘judge not’; who are you to tell people what they can, and cannot do?”
Unfortunately, misrepresentation of this Scripture is common among the media, and other groups, who often misquote Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Ironically, few use it contextually, and they fail to reference John 7:24 where Jesus encourages His followers to “judge with righteous judgment.”
This misrepresentation of “judging” is an attempt to conform scripture to support opinions. When, in fact, moral values are designed to conform to scriptural truths.Personal opinions vary; truth does not.
“Judging,” within the context of Matthew 7:1, refers to the type of judgment that a judge would render in a court of law. A judge hears the evidence and pronounces a judgment. God tells us to leave justice to Him; He is the judge. In John 7:24, however, Christians are to judge, or “call into question” those things that clearly contradict God’s principles. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:15, said that those who are spiritual should judge, or discern, all things.
Although more could be listed, there are three primary purposes for speaking the truth in love:
1) Ephesians 4:15 says that we mature when the truth is spoken in love. “He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue” (Prov. 28:23). When truth is spoken, we are faced with two choices: to become bitter, or better; to mature, or to complain. Humble men and women allow truth to transform them rather than turning a deaf ear.
2) In John 8:32, Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Not only will we know the truth when we repent and believe on the only name that saves (Jesus), but we also experience freedom…freedom from condemnation, sin, guilt, and judgment. In short, no matter what you have done or have experienced, you have the ability to repent and turn to Christ and start anew.
3) The final purpose of speaking the truth is to spark repentance. Galatians 6:1 adds, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness….” St. Augustine said, “There is no sin which one person has committed, that another person may not commit it also….If those who are always so eager to condemn others would investigate themselves they would find that the sins of others are motes in comparison to their own.”
With that said, consider these facts:
- All truth is grounded in God. “Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God….Truth is the self-expression of God” (John MacArthur). There is no truth apart from God and His word. He has spoken; our job is to listen and obey.
- Truth confronts and convicts. The reason many want to silence Christians is because the truth confronts immoral lifestyles and convicts. “‘Is not My word like a fire?’” says the Lord, ‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’ (Jeremiah 23:29).” Hebrews 4:12 powerfully declares, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It confronts and convicts.
- Truth runs counter-cultural. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
More next week…
Shane Idleman is the pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship. KTLW (88.9FM in Lancaster) features his radio program at 7am on Saturdays, and Sundays at 6:30pm beginning in February. Westside Christian Fellowship meets Saturdays at 5:30pm at 6015 W Ave. J-8. For more info., visit WCFAV.org, or call (661) 524-6610. Shane’s books, articles, & radio program can be found at ShaneIdleman.com.