Sometimes We Have to Judge

"First take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Luke 6:42

Some people stand for what is known as "laissez faire," that is, let people do as they please. In support of this stance they quote the words of Jesus: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned" (Luke 6:37). 

In words preceding the above, Jesus urges us to be merciful because our heavenly Father is that way. Further, He warns against self-righteousness, against having 20/20 vision with regard to someone else's faults but being blind to our own. Such people spot a "speck of dust" or a splinter in their brothers' and sisters' eyes when having a "plank" in their own. On the basis of this context, some say we ought never judge and condemn anyone, not even when moral wrongs are involved.

This cannot be what Jesus meant, for elsewhere He stated, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault" (Matthew 18:15). Whenever Christians do this, they are not expressing arbitrary, personal judgments but are applying the prior judgments of God. The latter are the standard by which we live.

What kind of judging or condemning is Jesus forbidding? It is a judging that is loveless, without mercy, and is prompted by self-righteousness. Our Lord does not want us to presume to lay down moral principles, or a set of do's and don'ts, of our own making that exceed or fall short of what the Word of God says. The attempt to add to the Word of God was illustrated by the Pharisees, who added more than 600 laws of their own to the moral law of God. This is legalism.

Yes, there may come times when it is our Christian calling to point out to those near and dear to us that what they are saying and doing is wrong in the light of the Word of God. The intent is to be constructive and positive--as Jesus said--to "win" or "gain" the brother or sister, to be spiritually helpful to one for whom Christ died.

PRAYER: Lord Give, give me the attitude toward, and the right concern for, my brothers and sisters in the faith who err. Amen.