Surely they can.
Jesus spoke and said: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye. Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” Matt. 7,1-6
Now I am the one speaking and I say:
“You have heard: ‘Judge not’ But I say to you: You have to judge, but doing it has some nonnegotiable requirements. Make sure you fulfill them. Otherwise don’t.”
What do you think?
Overcoming the usual fear of judgment
Yes, we have to judge and we actually do it numerous times in our daily life. And others judge us. We went through exams at school, we took our driver’s license, we got a parking-ticket or showed up at a closed gate in the airport. This is normal life. But christianity has developed abnormal characteristics in the course of time.
Why is that?
Well maybe in order…
… to cover our wrong thoughts, decisions, actions and lives in a reaction of childish self-defense,
… to legitimize our continuing wrongness and lack of groth into maturity,
… to keep a distance to people doing better than us,
… to keep the voices of the demons of inferiority-feelings, condemnation and self-accusation silent.
We must judge and measure because of the 3 reasons mentioned by Jesus:
(1) Measurement is necessary to build accurately and provide safety,
(2) The speck from your brother’s eye must be removed, well, after you have checked and fixed what might be in your eye,
(3) What is holy must be given to the right people and ‘pearls’ must not be trampled, turned and torn in pieces.
Now I can hear the usual christian arguments:
- Watch yourself because with the judgment you judge you will judge and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you… I say: And?
- Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye… I say: Fix your own eye and help your brother to fix his in stead of letting him suffer just because you don’t want to handle your own mess. And this is exactly what Jesus said,
- How dare you call anybody ‘dogs’ and anything you have been entrusted with for ‘holy’? I say: I do dare because of respect for the holy and the Holy One who gave it.
The rest of the passage defines the frame in which the first statement is spoken and understood.
Job wrote in the 29th chapter of his book:
“Oh, that I were as in months past, as in the days when God watched over me; When His lamp shone upon my head,and when by His light I walked through darkness; Just as I was in the days of my prime, when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent; When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were around me; When my steps were bathed with cream, and the rock poured out rivers of oil for me! “When I went out to the gate by the city, when I took my seat in the open square, the young men saw me and hid, and the aged arose and stood; The princes refrained from talking, and put their hand on their mouth; The voice of nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth. When the ear heard, then it blessed me, and when the eye saw, then it approved me; Because I delivered the poor who cried out, the fatherless and the one who had no helper. The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, and plucked the victim from his teeth. Then I said, ‘I shall die in my nest, and multiply my days as the sand. My root is spread out to the waters, and the dew lies all night on my branch. My glory is fresh within me, and my bow is renewed in my hand.’ “Men listened to me and waited, and kept silence for my counsel. After my words they did not speak again, and my speech settled on them. They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouth wide as for the spring rain. If I mocked at them, they did not believe and the light of my countenance they did not cast down. I chose the way for them, and sat as chief; So I dwelt as a king in the army, as one who comforts mourners.»
Whatever we might think as we read these words spoken by Job, I don’t believe there is any pride, arrogance or abuse of relationships for selfish reasons. Job describes his position, a position given to him by God as he walked with Him. Walking with God creates progress in our lives. How could the opposite be the case? Later all of it was taken away from him, but he didn’t divert from the original path. And he was restored in his previous position, not less honorable and influential.
Job was a judge, and he did judge. His sentence sets order where there was disorder and reason where chaos ruled and harmed.
Job measured and brought freedom and restoration, help, joy and hope.
Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 10:
”Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. »
And in 1 Cor. 11:
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.”
I ask: Could it be that some weaknesses and sickenesses in church-people are rooted in the absence of the order created by sound and spiritual judgment? And by the unwillingness to do so or even to consider doing so?
No doubt and nothing unclear in what Paul addresses here: Judge, discern, measure, examine. It is practical wisdom… and you are right, it’s for the mature.
In Rev. 2 and 3 John wrote 7 letters to 7 churches.
The words were written on behalf of the Son of God whom He just encountered, as reported in the first chapter.
“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.” Rev. 1,12-18.
Jesus Christ stood in the midst of the lampstands which were in the Holy Place, the place where the church is shaped, formed and reformed in order to become the spiritual womb for a generation of Kingdom Architects whom the Father will send into the nations, cities and regions, work places and institutions, families and communities.
He told John: Do not be afraid.
Don’t fear or avoid judgment. Welcome it.
In 5 of the 7 letters there is ‘a red line’ dividing the letter in 2 parts showing us that the Head of the Church is actually judging His Church.
Just one example from the letter to Ephesus: “I know your works, your labor, your patience ... Nevertheless I have this against you...”
The letter is a judgment or a sentence and doesn’t have a positive part and a negative part, as speakers (me included) have always mentioned. It is one whole letter, one word, one message and it is absolutely positive, because it is positive to add order and it is positive to remove disorder. Therefore every letter ends with the same statement: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Hear what? Hear the the Holy Spirit’s judgment of the churches, a sentence which is God’s valid and helpful judgment. It is helpful because of the words ‘He who overcomes...’ at the end of all 7 letters. God wants us to overcome, set things in order, water the Seed and remove stones and thistles.
In Matt. 5 to 7 Jesus educates the coming Kingdom architects.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
And He said 6 times: “You have heard that ... But I say to you that...”
Did He measure? Did He judge? Yes He did.
Did He condemn? No He didn’t.
Did He give what is holy to the dogs? No He did’nt.
Did He cast His pearls before swine? No He didn’t
Truth must be kept under tension.
Lives and relationships must develop inside boundaries.
Values are bound by limitations.
Time is gone for infantile adults and juvenile attitudes.
Philip DuPont (May 2021)