10. When Jesus forbade judging, that included us.
Negative responses to point 10 divided into two camps. Some said they were not judging other people, but merely pointing out what scripture says. A second group of responses said that Jesus never meant that we shouldn’t judge.
I would certainly agree that we need some kind of discernment. We need to “judge” the difference between right and wrong in our own lives. If someone is being bullied and asks for our help, there is a sense in which any intervention implies we have “judged” the victim’s claims over that of the bully. And, we sometimes must sometimes protect children even though they cannot make a justice claim. In these two senses I would agree that we need to “judge.”
But what if no one has made a justice claim and there are no victims? What if we simply believe we know better than others how they should live their lives? Perhaps this is what Jesus means when he says we should not judge.
Some understand the Jewish Covenant to be based on obedience to the law. The New Covenant is based on an understanding that we all fall short of perfection. In the New Covenant, God will offer clemency to all who offer it to others. So Jesus said:
The measure you use on others, will be the measure God will use on you.
Judge not, lest you be judged.
If you forgive your brother or sister you will be forgiven.
If you are on your way to worship and you remember that someone has a justice claim against you, leave the church and go make up with your brother or sister.
Judgment does not cease being judgment just because we find a Bible verse to back it up. The Bible is a huge book. Any of us can find a scripture to make others feel bad. Paul said there is not a person alive that could stand up to that kind of scrutiney so we should all stop doing it whenever possible.
What does it mean for Christians to say that Jesus died to free us from sin, and yet still needs us to sit in judgment of others? Do we think Jesus botched the atonement and needs us to pull it out of the fire? Do we really think Jesus was a such a bad teacher that we have to correct what he said?
When Jesus said “judge not,” it included us. “Grace” means we can stop trying to do God’s job, and, instead, make ourselves a living sacrifice to love. Show love equally to those who deserve it and those who do not, and you will be like your heavenly parent who sends rain on the just and the unjust.