To Judge or Not to Judge…That is the Question
2 Peter 1:2-4 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (KJV)
One of the reasons for our Bible School and our Gathering times is to deal with the “nitty-gritty”, “down-to-earth”, and “where-the-rubber-meets-the-road” issues of both life and ministry. Everything we need to live out and fulfill our lives and ministries in a “godly” way is found in our relationship with our Maker, and the Bible contains the necessary guide posts to help us along “The Way”. Where Bible School focuses more on ministry and the Gathering focuses more on living/walking out our Faith. The twain often meet and similar questions are brought up. The following is one of those “life and godliness” questions that bears closer scrutiny: Judgment…
Consider the following two verses:
1 Cor 2:15-16 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (KJV)
Matt 7:1-5 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (KJV)
How can we obey the words of Jesus to “Judge not….” and reconcile it with 1 Cor. which states that the “spiritually mature” judge “all things”. In Matthew the one who judges is a “hypocrite” but in 1 Cor. the one who judges is “spiritually mature”. What?!
Let’s see if a little “word study” may bring some light to these apparently contradictory verses…
The first “Judgeth” in 1 Cor. (as in all things) is Strong’s # G3303 it is a positive word and means to assert or affirm. It is not a negative as in pointing out a fault. Also note that “he that is spiritual” in context deals with maturity and one who has developed Christ-likeness. This “positive” is placed in front of Strong’s G350 which roughly means to examine or scrutinize. So, clearly there is a lack of “judgment” in the sense of “right and wrong” and more of discernment as to the true nature of things. Next, is the “All Things” – this is Strong’s G3956 and, although it can include people, its primary function here is “wholeness”. In other words…”(In contrast to the immature) He who is spiritual sees the whole picture and discerns the heart of the matter (inferred, not just the surface our outward appearance of things). The spiritual person looks for wholeness! The spiritual person is not looking for “what is lacking”. To put it in terms more commonly familiar: the spiritual person sees the “Christ” in “all things”. Those who are spiritual have an eye for finding the seeds of Christ-likeness in the larger picture. He/She is not caught up in little details, but sees each part as relating to a greater whole.
Now for part 2 of this verse: “yet he himself is judged of no man”. This “judged” is simply Strong’s G350 without the positive prefix. Additionally the phrase “no man” is Strong’s G3762 and, like the word for “all”, it means “nothing” – it can include people, but is more all-encompassing. The phraseology does not suggest that others will not judge such a one but that the “spiritual” does not live from a place of judgment neither is he/she affected by it. This (judge not/not judged) word is more in-line with Jesus’ command in Matt. 7 “Judge not lest you be judged”. The “spiritual” is simply unaffected by negative opinions/people/circumstances. He/She lives from above and has closed eyes to the deceptions of the good/evil, right/wrong religious system. The “spiritual” are in essence “curse-proof”. How? Because they do not partake of, deal with, or dish out “judgment/curses”. Matt. 7:2 confirms this: “for with what measure you judge…”
As believers we are called to be “Kingdom of Light” revealers. When we engage in negative judgment we reveal the Kingdom of Darkness and conceal the Kingdom of Light by drawing attention away from the “Likeness of God” in our brethren, to their fallen nature. Even as spiritual leaders we must be weary of this tactic of the Ego to call attention to self and enter again into works. As both believers and ministers of the glorious light of salvation we must make our focus, motivation, and intention the constant revelation of reflection and likeness of Christ both in ourselves and in others.