Judge Not: Abusing Matthew 7:1

MATTHEW 7:1 is probably the most quoted — and mis-quoted — Bible verse when it comes to how we are to relate to the sin of our Christian brothers and sisters.

Those who don’t like when Christians stand for truth are often quick to say, “Judge not…” but many will stop there and not realize what that really means in context. In fact many have reduced the entire chapter down to this one verse, as if to say, “Who are YOU to judge another?”

So today we are going to talk about Matthew 7 with our special guest, editorial writer Robert Meyer. You can check out his article on Matthew 7 below, and read his Renew America articles here.


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 Marginalizing Christianity by quoting Jesus

By Robert Meyer

If you are an avid reader of newspaper editorial columns, you can’t help but notice two reoccurring themes that come around with nauseating regularity. Both of them deal with supposed teachings of Christ. Both of them are warped, Orwellian interpretations of the whole passage understood in context. Both offer a Christian pretext, but actually marginalize Christian ethics in favor of a contrary worldview.

To set up the first theme, it is usually a negative response to someone who bemoans some aspect of the trend in cultural morality. The rejoinder is that Christians are not supposed to judge others. That assertion is taken from Matthew chapter seven in the NT. But the context reveals an entirely different message. The point being made is that if one judges others, they will themselves be judged by the same standards they use in their own evaluation. Jesus then teaches his followers how to make a “righteous judgment” in order to avoid this liability. First take the impediment from your own eye.

The real issue is about the condemnation of hypocrisy, not the forbidding of discernment or legitimate criticism. Jesus concludes the section of instruction by telling his followers not to give holy things to dogs, or cast pearls before swine. The dogs and swine are metaphors for people who will not embrace spiritual things. Obviously Jesus himself is rendering a judgment against certain people, and requesting others to do the same.

The implication of the “Judge not” admonition, is that people, particularly Christians, are not permitted to criticize what they perceive as immoral. Such an assumption is patently absurd. The point Jesus made is that we should not condemn anyone when we are even more guilty of the same offense. The actions of Jesus himself were replete with judgment against those he discerned as doing wrong. One example would be his act of overturning the tables of money-changers in the temple.

If we actually extended the “judge not” philosophy to its logical conclusion, it would make folly of our law enforcement and courts of law, where people are arrested, judged and punished by other persons as a matter of course.

What this is really about is marginalizing and silencing the critique of social trends or behaviors, if the objection is informed by traditional moral precepts. We couldn’t survive as functioning humans, if we could never make judgments about people’s characters, based on their visible conduct. This is yet another example of a Christian beatitude distorted under the iron boot of political correctness.

The second canard involves economic policy. Persons of liberal political persuasions offer the rebuttal to those opposing excessive government spending, and forced wealth redistribution, by alluding to Jesus’ frequent requests for the wealthy to give to the poor. They will quote scriptures to make their point. This reasoning is so obtuse, I thought it was an obvious spoof the first few times I noticed people making a connection between the Sermon on the Mount, and government entitlements.

As I frequently point out, nowhere can we presume or infer that requirements to help the poor are anything but personal mandates imposed by the moral conscience. Charity is always what one does voluntarily to help another. And it should be noted that while all of us could do more to help our fellow man in need, surveys show that religious conservatives are the most generous of any group in the study when in comes to giving their own money for charity. So much for the stereotypes of conservative greed.

It is quite an extrapolation to assume that policies of economic collectivism are the contemporary equivalent to The Beatitudes. At no time did Jesus solicit the government in implementing his demands to aid the needy. This is really rendering unto Caesar what is God’s, violating the functional separation between church and state.

I am one convinced that theoretically church organizations and public charity can more adequately fulfill the social contract assuming a few qualifications listed below. Even if that is unreasonably optimistic, I believe we need to migrate in that direction.

Too many churches have moved away from their core social responsibility of helping the needy, toward a prosperity gospel and/or wasting money on constructing palatial buildings.

The responsibility of helping one’s fellow man has been crowded out and obscured by government taking that role and increasing taxes to expand on it further.

The concept of fulfilling need isn’t tantamount to providing people who won’t work with a living. The Christian idea that if a man will not work(not those who cannot work), he should not eat, expresses an ethic that condemns freeloading, and promotes moral and financial responsibility. Thus taking on more individual responsibility reduces legitimate need.

In Jesus’ time, the concept of providing for need was more basic. Supposing that meeting needs implies providing all people with there own dwelling, transportation and health care insurance without qualification, goes way beyond what was ever mandated in the scriptures.

These two concepts, seem to be the extent to which these editorials invoke the authority of Christian precepts. That’s hardly a legitimate approach. The latter economic stricture, is really the effort of people with socialist economic ideologies, to hijack the ethics of Jesus, thereby leading a throng of useful idiots into their corner.

© Robert Meyer

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4 Responses to Judge Not: Abusing Matthew 7:1

  1. fidlerten says:

    The only thing that is warped is this article.

    Instead of taking scripture out of context, let's look at what Jesus really meant when he said "Judge not".

    If we look at the woman who committed adultery and the populace wanted to stone her to death, because that was what Mosaic Law dictated. It's so easy to throw the stone at the adultress but it's more godly to have mercy and forgive her.

    Jesus told the crowd to let the one without sin cast the first stone. None of them could step forward because none of them were without sin. What this means is not just that there just happened to not be a single sin-free person in the crowd but that there is no crowd, no one who is without sin.

    Judge not that be not judged is about looking inward and not at others. We're to be examples with our own lives, not spend our times looking at other people and judging others. Anyone who judges another, needs to first judge themselves with the same measure they're judging. If they do so and do so honestly, then they know that they cannot judge others because they're not without sin themselves.

    When we stand before God, we'll stand before a God that is perfect in judgment as much as He is perfect in mercy. When we show mercy to others, we also incur mercy upon ourselves, when we show judgment to others, then we incur judgment upon ourselves – it's that simple.

    Then the very idea that charity should be left up to churches just doesn't work. Before the New Deal signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, poverty was rampant. Seniors suffered the most as there were so many who could not work and had no way to take care of themselves. Same thing for the disabled and anyone who couldn't keep up with the rest of society. The New Deal was about our nation growing and maturing to the point we no longer would allow hunger and poverty to destroy lives.

    The ministry of Christ is about compassion. When Jesus fed the multitude he fed everyone. He didn't go around asking them if they had a job first, sot that he could decide who should deserve food or not deserve food.

    Of course we should incourage a work ethic but at the end of the day, we still need to make sure everyone eats. Paul's teachings are good teachings, as long as they're put in perspective with the teachings of Jesus, otherwise, his letters are just expressing his own opinion, not the edicts of Christ.

    What has happened with Christians in this country, especially with the Evangelical movement is that they've moved away from the true ministry of Christ and like Mr. Meyer here, has justified turning away from the edicts of Christ and excused Christians from having the same compassion as Christ has.

    In a nutshell, this is why there is so much hunger in this world and why thousands and thousands of children die every day because of hunger. It's because Christians, or so-called Christians have found a way to cherry-pick scriptures to fit into their own little idea of what they'd like Christianity to mean and that doesn't work. Jesus spoke very clearly when it came to feeding the hungry and taking care of the needy when he said this:

    I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was naked and you gave me no clothes, I was sick and in prison and you visited me not…

    You can sit around and pick and choose all the scriptures you want but you will not free yourself from your responsiblity as a Christian to love sinners and care for those in need. Just take your place with the goats on the left side if that's what you think you can do by explaining away the very compassion that led Jesus to that cross to die for our sins.

    If the political party you belong to seems to support the wealthy instead of the needy, then you belong to the wrong party. Now go and work that out in your reasoning and again pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that Jesus really meant for you to cut taxes for wealthy people while at the same time,you stomp out all those pesky social programs that's feeding a bunch of poor people and the money for those programs aren't finding its way into some rich guys pocket like all the rest of the money.

    Then, I meet you on Judgment Day when we all stand before God and we'll see how Jesus feels about you then. Maybe you could explain to him the workings of trickle-down economics and see if he thinks that was such a great idea.

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  2. ROBERT MEYER says:

    The post above is a textbook example of obtuse theological reasoning.

    "If we look at the woman who committed adultery and the populace wanted to stone her to death, because that was what Mosaic Law dictated. It’s so easy to throw the stone at the adultress but it’s more godly to have mercy and forgive her.

    Jesus told the crowd to let the one without sin cast the first stone. None of them could step forward because none of them were without sin. What this means is not just that there just happened to not be a single sin-free person in the crowd but that there is no crowd, no one who is without sin"

    Obviously this poster understands little about Jewish custom in arriving at these conclusions. Mosaic law demanded both participants of an act of adultery to be stoned. No man was brought forth in this case , which was an indication that the impromtu trial was illicit from the beginning. Secondly, Jesus was not saying that unless someone was perfect, they couldn't throw the first stone. The person throwing the first stone was supposed to be the individual who first witnessed the act and brought the formal charges against the accused. Such a person couldn't be someone involved with the crime. Before Jesus' famous pronouncement, he proceded to write in the dirt. We don't know what the writing said for certain, but likely it was related to secret sin never confessed or atoned for, making that person ineligible to "throw the first stone."

    "Judge not that be not judged is about looking inward and not at others. We’re to be examples with our own lives, not spend our times looking at other people and judging others. Anyone who judges another, needs to first judge themselves with the same measure they’re judging. If they do so and do so honestly, then they know that they cannot judge others because they’re not without sin themselves."

    The poster is doing okay until he gets to the last sentence. He complains about reading out of context, then is guilty in spades of the very thing he condemns. Read Matthew 7:6 and see if Jesus told us we can never judge anyone.

    "What has happened with Christians in this country, especially with the Evangelical movement is that they’ve moved away from the true ministry of Christ and like Mr. Meyer here, has justified turning away from the edicts of Christ and excused Christians from having the same compassion as Christ has.

    In a nutshell, this is why there is so much hunger in this world and why thousands and thousands of children die every day because of hunger. It’s because Christians, or so-called Christians have found a way to cherry-pick scriptures to fit into their own little idea of what they’d like Christianity to mean and that doesn’t work. Jesus spoke very clearly when it came to feeding the hungry and taking care of the needy when he said this:

    I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was naked and you gave me no clothes, I was sick and in prison and you visited me not…"

    Intersting that the writer condemns me, despite that he agrees with the very point I made in the piece, that the responsibility to help the poor and needy is a mandate given to the individual believer and the church collectively, not the government. This is made clear by the final sentence in the quote above.

    "If the political party you belong to seems to support the wealthy instead of the needy, then you belong to the wrong party. Now go and work that out in your reasoning and again pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that Jesus really meant for you to cut taxes for wealthy people while at the same time,you stomp out all those pesky social programs that’s feeding a bunch of poor people and the money for those programs aren’t finding its way into some rich guys pocket like all the rest of the money."

    Now he makes a U-turn and wants to talk about political parties and which ones support Christian virtues, as if supporting social entitlements to garner votes has anything to do with the compassion of Christ.

    "Then, I meet you on Judgment Day when we all stand before God and we’ll see how Jesus feels about you then. Maybe you could explain to him the workings of trickle-down economics and see if he thinks that was such a great idea."

    I'm not sure what "trickle-down" economics has to do with anything, but I have yet to find a principle for progressive income tax in the scriptures.

    We might also ask how Jesus will feel about political movements that support abortion on demand and expanding God's design for marriageon that judgment day the writer fondly eludes to.

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    • John Jeffry says:

      I disagree with Mr. Myers interpretation of these verse. Jesus' remarks were aimed at the whole crowd – not just those accusers who would be required to throw through the first stones. He said, 'Let ANYONE among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.' The authority of his words and presence obviously affects them – ALL OF THEM. One by one, beginning with the most respected man among them, they melt away. Eventually, Jesus is left alone with the woman still standing in front of him. He straightens up again, and speaks to her. 'Where are your accusers?' he asks. 'Has no-one seen fit to condemn you?' She simply answers 'No-one, sir.' Then the Son of God – the One who obviously has the right to judge and throw a stone without question says, 'Then I do not condemn (or judge) you either. Go on your way, and do not sin anymore.'

      It is important to see that Jesus does not condone what she had done, or dismiss her sin as unimportant, or understandable. He knows, and she does too, that what she has done is wrong. But he condemns the sin, not the sinner, and commands her not to sin again. That is our example – one we hardly see in those who judge. In love the woman is called to change, but the message is aimed directly at each one of us. That message is be careful to look at your own life and motives before you judge. And whatever you do, do it not with condemnation but with the goal of life change.

      And don't forget the other example Jesus used when it came to judging. More than likely, if you are really honest with yourself, you'll be too busy taking the log out of your own eye to worry about the speck in someone else's.

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      • fidlerten says:

        Mr Meyer,

        Though I do appreciate your rebuttal of my comments, I do have a rebuttal of your rebuttal.

        I would like to say that as far as judging someone is concerned, let me quote you this scripture:

        But we speak wisdom among them that are mature: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing.

        But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

        Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

        But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.

        But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.

        For what man knows the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.

        Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

        Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

        But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

        But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

        For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

        1 Corinthians 2:6-16

        Certainly the Spirit judges all things but it has nothing to do with our own reasoning. Sometimes I might meet someone that seems so nice and even godly, and my spirit – which is one with the Holy Spirit – tells me there is something else beyond what I'm seeing. Perhaps it can be put in the perspective of the Spiritual gift of discernment.

        A bum may walk up to me in the street asking for change, his clothes dirty and his his hair is matted. My own reasoning tells me he is repulsive but my Spirit tells me he is a lost soul who needs God.

        I work the night audit at a hotel and I have to make quick assessments about who I open the door to sometimes late at night. If someone comes dressed like a hood, then I'm not opening the door to them. It's not that I'm judging them, I don't know them so I can't make any real judgments about them but my reasoning tells me they could do me and the hotel I work for, harm.

        The woman that Jesus defended probably committed adultery and Jesus knew that about her. He chose to instead, see her through the Spirit and through the Spirit, he did not see an adulteress but a lost soul who needed forgiveness, not stones cast upon her.

        When I speak of the kind of judgment that the crowd had over that woman, I see a judgment that has decided that the woman deserved death and therefore Hell. They passed judgment upon her. I would also like to speculate, as you did, concerning the crowd and the lack of a male participant; just as it has been in so many societies of old, even up to the recent past, has men been allowed their discretion when it came to women, and women were held up to blame. Of course, I'm only speculating here. I also speculate there wasn't another woman in the crowd.

        If we all walked in the Spirit as Christ did when he walked this earth, we would see everything differently and instead of judgment, we would find forgiveness and instead of rejection we would find open arms, waiting for us to come home.

        But, we don't. When a man falls from grace, his friends turn their back on him, and yes, even some of his church-going friends don't want anything to do with him. His real friends will be there to lend a shoulder until he can recover and find his way back. In my heart, I believe Jesus understood that, especially when he told us the story of the prodigal son.

        Yes, the Spirit judges all things but that same Spirit teaches us to look beyond what we see and what our own reasoning tells us and see what Jesus saw when he looked out on the 5,000 hungry souls and fed them all. He did not see lazy people, though surely some were, he did not see thieves and liars, though surely some were. He just saw the hunger and he fed their souls and their bodies. That's what Jesus was about, the lost, and that's what he cared about most.

        So really, it isn't just what he said that day, to that crowd of people but about what he was saying all along, not only by word but by deed.

        In the end, won't it really be about where your heart is? If your heart is about your possessions and your position in life, then in the end there won't be anything for you because you can't take any of that with you where you're going. If your heart is into the things of God and then surely your reward will come.

        As far as government feeding the poor, compared to allowing the church to do so; there was a time in our history that government did not feed the poor. The poor just had to make it however they could, that's why life expectancy was so low and still is to some extent. Churches had a chance then to step up to the plate and feed the poor but so many churches, it was more about the pastor living the good life than it was about feeding the poor.

        My grandmother lived in a dirt floor shack with her three kids. She worked her fingers to the bone, cleaning rich people's houses. Her oldest Kenneth got polio at the age of nine. She couldn't afford him a wheelchair and there were no social services, or churches that provided them so for years, she pulled him around in a kid's toy wagon. She fed her kids mostly beans and potatoes because that was all she could afford.

        She loved God and devoutly went to church but that church didn't feed her family during the depression when there were no jobs. She did whatever she had to feed her family. It wasn't until there was government help did her life and the life of her kids improve.

        So it's easy to talk about how bad those government entitlement programs are until you need them. Government programs are there because charity is insufficient. There was a great need when President Roosevelt introduced us to the New Deal. It may be pleasing to one's thought to think the good old Church will take over where the government doesn't but I'm afraid it's the other way around, with the government taking over what the church couldn't.

        I am not a supporter of the welfare program as it is. I instead support a work program that pays a minimum wage. I won't go into all the details but I don't believe just giving someone charity on an ongoing basis is something that is helping them in the long run. Still, I don't believe God is for allowing people to suffer because of their lack of work ethic, especially their children.

        And, trickle-down economics has everything to do with the fact that rich people keep getting richer and everyone else keeps getting poorer. There is a great redistribution of wealth in this country and it's the opposite of what Republicans have been telling us all along. The wealth is trickling upward and a decent day's work no longer pays a decent day's salary.

        And speaking of marriage; again here it's a man's world. The Christian Right loves to talk about marriage being between one man and one woman as God designed it. Go tell that to King David and King Solomon, to name just a few of God's favorite who had many wives. Need I say more.

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