Judge Not? Matthew 7:1 — The Most Misused Verse in Scripture?

In the previous “Judge Not?” articles, we explored 5 concepts:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth with love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

CONCEPT #5: Disagreement is not intolerance or hate.

 We will now close the series by looking at the much-quoted Matthew 7:1:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (ESV)

aka

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (NIV)

Judge_Not_Human_Worth

Judging Judgment

Christians are often accused of being “intolerant” and “judgmental” for taking moral stands.

We spent time in previous articles discussing the misuse and overuse of these two accusations, so I’m not going rehash them here, but let’s stop throwing around the word “judge” like only people who disagree with popular views do it. Christians can disagree with others and do it with love and respect, still seeing those they criticize as image-bearers of God. As I’ve written before: there are wrong ways to speak truth; it must be done in love.

As R. J. Rushdoony stated, “Intolerance is inescapable. If we are Christians and abide by Scripture, we will be intolerant towards murder, theft, adultery, false witness, and other offenses against God’s order.”

Ironically, the accusation of intolerance and being judgmental can be turned on those accusing Christians of these very things. When accused of being intolerant and judgmental, a Christian can simply ask those leveling those accusations,

“If intolerance is wrong, then why are you being intolerant to my beliefs?”

or

“If being judgmental is wrong, why are you judging me?”

Often Matthew 7:1 is quoted by nonChristians at Christians as a “Gotcha!” when Christians speak out against something. But are they understanding the verse correctly? In fact, are Christians even understanding it correctly?

In his book The Most Misused Verses in the Bible, Eric J. Bargerhuff writes, “One could easily argue that Matthew 7:1 is by far the most frequently misapplied verse in the entire Bible, used and abused by both Christians and nonChristians alike.”

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The Golden Rule

Perhaps the second most overused and over-abused verse out of the Bible also comes from Jesus’ amazing Sermon on the Mount (Matthew CH. 5-7), known as the “Golden Rule”:

 

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

 

Most people are familiar with this teaching, and often it’s pointed out that many other religions have a similar teaching. I once came across another blogger trying to use the Golden Rule against Christians for a political stance they were taking, writing:

“As far as I know, no religion places an asterisk after its recitation of the Golden Rule, indicating those who can (and should) be exempted from the command to love and treat others as they would themselves want to be treated.”

But the problem with this interpretation of the Golden Rule here and elsewhere is that those using it are basically saying, “Treat others as you want to be treated, and you want to be treated as if everyone agrees with everything you do, so don’t disagree with anyone.”

This is absurd.

I want people to treat me with respect, but I also want them to be truthful. If I’m doing something they perceive to be destructive to others or myself, I want them to tell me. If I’m doing something badly, selfish, or just plain wrong, I want to be told. I want people to speak truth to me in love, and I will do my best to do the same for them. I will speak with love and truth – not just with one and not the other.

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Planks in Eyes

 

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (ESV)

aka

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (NIV)

 

People love to grab random verses out of the Bible to “prove” their points (like corrupt celebrity preachers and cult leaders). Problem is, these verses are often taken out of context and ignore the complimentary teachings throughout the rest of the Bible.

Yes, Matthew 7:1 sounds straightforward enough: Jesus is saying not to judge, right?

Let’s look at the rest of the passage before drawing a conclusion. To be fair, some who use Matthew 7:1 will even quote a bit more of it:

 

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?”

(Matt. 7:1-4)

 

OK, things get a little clearer now: Jesus is saying if you judge others, you will be judged in the same way. So, if you judge harshly, you will be judged harshly. But this is also saying, if you judge justly, you will also be judged justly, right?

Fair enough. I believe this is the Word of God, so we should take it seriously. It’s clear Jesus is warning us about how we should judge and condemning hypocritical judgment. He’s not denouncing all judgment.

Can you image how insane the world would be if people stopped using judgment?

Can you image telling a father that he can’t use judgment when eyeing up his daughter’s new boyfriend? In fact, ladies, don’t refuse anyone a date, because that would be judgmental. And once you don’t use judgment to choose a boyfriend, don’t ever breakup with him, even for a very good reason, because that’ll be judgmental too.

Own a business? Be ready to hire anyone who comes in the door — forget interviews and references — because you don’t want to be judgmental. And you better not fire that guy who just cost your company a boatload of money, you judgmental jerk!

Judge_Not_Arrogance

 

Furthermore, we still haven’t looked at Matthew 7:5. Those quoting this verse to Christians often conveniently stop at 7:4. Here’s what Jesus says in 7:5:

 

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

 

So, Jesus says to first take the plank out of your own eye, before you do what? Before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye!

Jesus is saying to take care of your own garbage before you go speaking to others about their garbage. Jesus is not condemning all judgment, but he’s telling us to do it in the right way. We are to speak truth in love, not harshly or hypocritically, and the only way to do that correctly is to make sure you’re in a good place yourself, which to Christians mean living as closely to God as possible.

Bargerhuff comes to the same conclusion: “Therefore, Jesus does not forbid all moral judgment or accountability. Rather, he forbids harsh, prideful, and hypocritical judgement that condemns others outright without first evaluating one’s own spiritual condition and commitment to forsake sin.”

None of us are perfect, and we have to deal with the inadequacies, garbage, and brokenness of others with the same grace that God shows us through Jesus Christ in dealing with our inadequacies, garbage, and brokenness.

 

And with this, I conclude this series:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth with love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

CONCEPT #5: Disagreement is not intolerance or hate.

CONCLUSION: Continue to always speak love in truth.

Judge_Not_Intolerance

GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not? Human Worth” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not? Christian Humility” here.**

**Read PART 3 of “Judge Not? Truth in Love” here.**

**Read PART 4 of “Judge Not? On Christian Arrogance” here.**

**Read PART 5 of “Judge Not? On (In)tolerance & Judgement(al)” here.**

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Judge Not? On (In)tolerance & Judgment(al)

Judge_Not_Intolerance

SERIES INTRO:

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, we’ve been exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a biblical worldview, and we will end the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the previous articles, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth in love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

As we come near the end of this series, let’s talk about intolerance and judgment…

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On Being Intolerant & Judgmental

Christians are often accused of being judgmental, intolerant, and unloving. We already discussed how Christians, like everyone, are imperfect and things like arrogance and unloving behavior are not a Christian problem – or even a religious problem – but a human problem. On the other hand, I’m by no means letting Christians who do unloving things off the hook. As I said before: they should know better.

Also, we’ve already discussed how all Christians should speak truth in love. This is a matter of tension between Christianity and other worldviews. Simply put, Christians speak what they believe to be true and others don’t like it.  But it’s important to point out that often this conflict between Christianity and others is not just a question of what is true, but what is love.

God is Love. God is Truth.

Christians are not post-modernists or relativists. We believe the all-knowing Creator of the universe has made himself known, and true reality can be known through him and the “renewing of the mind” (Romans 12:2), which only comes through the Holy Spirit. As finite beings, our knowledge is limited, but if an omnipresent, omniscient being reveals truth to us, we can trust that truth. God is love, but God is also the ultimate truth.  Yet often we embrace one and not the other.

For instance, some friends and I were having a friendly on-line debate about traditional vs. untraditional ideas of marriage, and another friend chimed in, simply writing, “God is love,” as if this settled the argument. I replied that his statement wasn’t as simple as it seemed!

What I meant was this: Does love mean indiscriminatingly accepting everything about a person? Let me ask it another way: Is it loving for parents to express disapproval when their children make unwise decisions? Is it loving for a friend to speak up against something harmful a friend is be doing? I would argue that, as parents and friends, often the loving thing to do is to disapprove of harmful choices and point those we care about towards the wiser path.

Speaking truth in love does not mean indiscriminatingly accepting everything another person chooses to do. Likewise, to withhold the truth because of “love” is not being loving at all.

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Lovingly Disagreeing

So, what this comes down to is this: At times, Christians are going to speak truth that others don’t like, but it does not mean it comes from a place of hate. Yes, others have the right to disagree about the truth expressed by Christians, but it’s inaccurate, lazy, and even at times deliberately dishonest to accuse Christians of being unloving for simply speaking what they believe is truth.

The tendency of those who don’t agree with the Christian worldview to accuse Christians of being unloving for simply speaking truth is tiring. Let’s be honest, the Christian worldview is counter-cultural in a lot of ways (at least where I live and compared to the worldview portrayed in popular entertainment and media). So, Christians are going to come into conflict with some popular opinions and beliefs. It’s inevitable.

The question is this:

Can you disagree with a friend and not be arrogant or pompous about it?

Yes.

Can a Christian disagree with a popular opinion and not be arrogant and pompous about it?

Yes.

Can you disagree with a friend and still love that person?

Yes.

Can Christians disagree with a current, popular opinions and still be loving?

Yes.

Let’s put it another way:

Does “I disagree with you” mean “I hate you”?

Of course not.

Disagreement does not equal hate.

If it were the case that disagreement meant hatred, no marriage would have any hope of lasting past the first week. In fact, no relationship would lead to marriage nor would any friendship last!

Yet, this is often how disagreement is portrayed – as hate.

Despite what some want you to believe, disagreement can be because of love, and disagreement can be given in a loving way. (But, chances are, those who don’t want to hear the truth will still not understand it to be loving.)

Intolerant Tolerance

It has been my experience that those screaming the loudest that Christians are judgmental or intolerant don’t really understand what those words mean.

Either that or they’re shrewdly manipulating the meaning of the words because, as George Orwell taught us long ago, if you can manipulate words, you can manipulate minds.

If this is the intention of some, then their efforts have been largely successful.

“Judgmental” is a word nearly universally considered to have negative connotations nowadays. To be labeled judgmental is almost on the same level as being labeled a bigot or racist, implying (once again) that judgment equals hate.

Unfortunately, there is some truth in this idea, and I see it increasing steadily within our lifetime, I think, because of this dangerous assumption. Many people believe that disagreement with another means that they must hate that person also. Likewise, if someone (X) tells someone else (Z) that he is wrong, then Z assumes X hates him.

What I find most troubling is that this mindset leads many to wrongly think we can’t just disagree; people must go further and condemn the person as a whole for their beliefs. Instead of saying, “I strongly disagree with your views and here’s why…” we say things like “You’re an idiot for thinking that” or other name-calling.

Now, that is the definition of “intolerance.”

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Christian Worldview in Secular Culture

Perhaps in other worldviews, this behavior can be justified, but as we discussed before, Christians must flee from falling into this trap themselves, not just because it’s destructive, but because our Lord commands it.

There is no place for this in the Christian worldview. Reducing someone to below you because they have a different view than you is denying that he or she is an image-bearer of God. It’s dehumanizing, no matter how sure one feels the other person’s views are wrong.

On the other hand, I’ve also witnessed Christians abused by this sort of behavior. Christian values are going to bring them into conflict with popular culture concerning many things, including sex, sexuality, abortion, right-to-life issues, and the exclusivist religious claims of Christianity. And because of this, Christians have been called bigots, close-minded, judgmental, intolerant, stupid, and worse.

“Tolerance” is respecting those you disagree with. That is the very definition of tolerance. Tolerance is not blindly affirming every opinion every person holds. Such mentality only leads to absurdity and chaos because differing opinions contradict each other, and where there are contradictions, everyone cannot be right.

Often when someone starts throwing around the intolerance accusations, what they’re really saying is “I don’t like your opinion,” and instead of respectfully opening a dialogue with the other person, they simply label that person bigoted or stupid.

Disagreement doesn’t make one intolerant. Dehumanizing someone through name-calling and refusing to respectfully consider their views is intolerant.

* * *

In the 6th and final part of this series, we’ll continue from right here and look closely at the famous verse:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

But for now, that brings us to Concept #5:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth with love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

CONCEPT #5: Disagreement is not intolerance or hate.

DSC05214

GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not? Human Worth” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not? Christian Humility” here.**

**Read PART 3 of “Judge Not? Truth in Love” here.**

**Read PART 4 of “Judge Not? On Christian Arrogance” here.**

Judge Not? Speaking Truth in Love

Judge_Not_Truth

SERIES INTRO:

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, I will be exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a Christian, biblical worldview, ending the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the previous articles, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

Now, we will explore an extremely important biblical concept…

Speaking Truth in Love

In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul teaches that Jesus Christ, God the Son, has provided teachers to instruct Christians to equip them for ministry. In doing so, Paul uses the term “the saints” not how modern Catholics use the phrase, but to refer to all believers in Christ:

 

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (4:11-12)

 

Thus, all Christians, without exception, are ministers of God’s truth as revealed through his divine Scripture. Further, all believers are to grow in maturity in their faith (4:13), so they’re no longer led astray by false teachings (4:14), and…

 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (4:15)

 

What we’re going to focus on here is this beautiful phrase:

“Speaking the truth in love”

Christians are the bearers of truth, but unfortunately many Christians have done poorly in sharing God’s truth because it often lacks love. The implication of 4:15 is if we deliver God’s truth without love, God’s truth will fall on deaf ears.

Elsewhere, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul writes,

 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

 

The lesson is clear: Christians can speak all the truth they possibly can, but if that truth isn’t motivated by love all their efforts are for nothing. Without love, truth is just a bunch of noise.

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Further, Christians are to “speak” truth not just in words but also in actions. Living a life of truth encompasses all we do – not just our words, but everything we partake in needs to speak God’s unending, grace-filled truth and love.

With this, Jesus Christ is our perfect model. Jesus tells us he “came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). At the Passover meal before his arrest, Jesus removed his outer garments, put on the apron of a servant, and washed his disciples’ feet, a task only done by the lowest servant or slave in that day. He said,

 

“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you”          (John 13:15).

 

Jesus’ earthly life is one of self-sacrificial love and humble service. But he also wasn’t a passive wimp without convictions. For example, in Matthew 22, Jesus says to the Sadducees concerning their disbelief of the resurrection of the dead:

 

“You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (22:29)

 

Jesus always spoke truth – sometimes quite bluntly!  But his actions spoke the truth of his love – and the love of his truth – louder than any words ever could.

Of course, the ultimate example of Jesus’ love is his willing death on the cross for the good of all humankind.

So, Christians, with both their speech and actions, must always speak truth with love.

LOVE WITHOUT TRUTH IS NOT LOVE

Craig Blomberg, while commenting on Ephesians 4:11-16 in his book From Pentecost to Patmos, writes, “Without truth, all the love in the world can save no one. Without love, few people are likely to listen to the truth!”

Thus, keep in mind, speaking truth means you don’t suppress truth either. Speaking truth sometimes means saying things others will not like.

Notice Blomberg stresses both truth and love as equally important. We cannot do only one – or even emphasize or favor one over the other.  As pointed out above, Jesus always spoke truth, even when his audience wouldn’t like the truth, but this did not mean he was being unloving.

Without love, truth falls on deaf ears. Without truth, love can do no good.

Love needs truth, and truth needs love.

Whether others respond to your loving truth with the same love as you showed is another matter.

Thus, we coming to our third concept…

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth in love.

NEXT: #4 – On Christian Arrogance

Judge_Not_Arrogance

GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not?” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not?” here.**

Judge Not? A Biblical Case for Christian Humility

*Why are Christians So Judgmental & Intolerant?*

Judge_Not_Humility

 

SERIES INTRO:

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, I will be exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a Christian, biblical worldview, ending the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the last article, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not?” here.**

Now, let’s explore Christian humility…

 

No One Earns (or Deserves) Salvation

All Christians have been called “out of darkness” into God’s “marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Here, and elsewhere in Scripture, it’s made clear that only through God’s intervention can salvation be obtained. We’re all dead in sin, and only God can bring a dead person back from the dead (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13). Thus, salvation is a free gift from God. It cannot be gained through our own effort.

(Despite the popular misconception that Christianity teaches that being “good” gets you eternal life, this isn’t what the Bible teaches; only the work of Jesus Christ can wipe away sins and eternal separation from God.)

Further, no one deserves salvation. God has given us all minds and freewill, and in Romans 3:23, Paul tells us sadly,

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

This includes both non-Christians and Christians. Though saved (and if truly saved, doing their best to live according to the perfect example of Jesus Christ), Christians are still imperfect sinners.

What does this all mean for us concerning humility? To put it bluntly, no Christian has accomplished (or can accomplish) what Jesus Christ did by dying on the cross, so no Christian has a right to be arrogant.

Jesus said,

“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).

All Christians were slaves, and no Christian has ever set himself free.

What Jesus Christ, God incarnate, accomplished on the cross only God could accomplish. Any amount of sin, no matter how small, separates us from a perfectly good, holy God. God, our Creator, loves us and wants us to know him, but he’s also perfectly good and just, and he can’t simply overlook sin. If he simply excused sin and evil, he would no longer be good and, thus, no longer God. Yes, there are things God can’t do, things against his very nature, and God’s very nature is perfectly god and just.  But it is also perfectly loving.

What could he do with this conundrum? The only thing that could be done: God became a man, lived a perfect life that none of us can, and experienced death, the penalty for sin.

Being both God and man, he was the perfect sacrifice and atoned for the just punishment for all of humankind. The work is finished, completed by the only one who could do it. And now all that can be done is to accept or reject this free gift.

This is the Gospel. This is the good news of Jesus Christ.

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Considering all that we’ve discussed above, can any Christian justify an arrogant or pompous attitude? Paul tells us the correct mindset of one who truly understands salvation alone through Jesus Christ:

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Since everything we have comes from God, we can ask,

“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

God created us. God died for us to free us from our sins. God has liberated us from death, both spiritually and, one day, physically. Thus, Christians should not be arrogant, boastful, or sinfully proud. Christians should be understanding, patient, and kind to fellow believers and unbelievers alike. To Christians who are otherwise, I say: You should know better.

Paul, writer of much of the New Testament and the church’s greatest missionary, had been a persecutor of the church before Jesus appeared to him and changed his heart. He had aggressively arrested Christians and even saw some put to death when he was known as Saul (See Acts 8:1-3). But Christ showed him grace and called him out of darkness, just like he did to all Christians. Therefore, Christians should have the same humility as Paul:

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

I recommend to all my fellow Christians to reread 1 Timothy 1:12-17 often, meditate on it, and pray over it.  We should all strive for the same humility displayed here by the church’s greatest missionary.

Thus, we can add our next biblical concept…

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

NEXT: #3 – Speaking Truth in Love

Judge_Not_Truth

GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not?” here.**

 

Judge Not? A Biblical Case for Human Worth

Judge_Not_Human_Worth

 

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, I will be exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a biblical worldview, ending the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

To begin, we must talk about human worth…

#1 – A Biblical Case for Human Worth

All People are Image-Bearers

The writers of the Bible teach that all humans are made in the image of God, and thus, all humans and all human life has great value.

In the creation account, Genesis 1:27 tells us,

 

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

 

Gender, race, nationality, religion, or even belief or unbelief in God doesn’t matter.  According to the Christian worldview, all people are image-bearers of God.

Further, a person’s value is not based on whether he or she is handicapped (physically or mentally), young or old, friend or enemy, or inside or outside the womb.

Nor is our worth based on our social standing, economic status, or sexual preference. This means that lawyers, politicians, warlords, porn stars, reality show stars, cops, rappers, rapists, teachers, garbage men, janitors, fast food workers, CEOs, oil tycoons, pimps, Islamic terrorists, white supremacists, toll workers, and MMA fighters are all made in the image of God.

Unfortunately, that image has been warped by sin. (And this is extremely important to always remember.) Despite this, all human life is priceless because all humans are image-bearers of the one true God.

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Ramifications

The implications of humans as image-bearers can be seen in Genesis 9:6, where we’re first told because humans are made in God’s image, we’re not to commit murder:

 

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
    by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.”

Most of us (fortunately!) have no problem with following this command, but James, in his New Testament letter, applies this biblical truth in a way that we’re all much more likely to struggle with:

 

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:8-10)

 

So, because we’re all made in the image of God, we shouldn’t just murder, but we shouldn’t even “curse” others.  The clear ramifications of this teaching is that we should not even speak harshly about others.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also warns against insults and name-calling (Matthew 5:21-26). The Greek word often translated “insults” is “raca,” which is a term of abuse, a term that degrades people. “Raca” suggests that the person insulted has no value.

Jesus is teaching against dehumanizing others. To dehumanize someone is to not recognize that person as an image-bearer of God.

If fact, Jesus equates this sort of anger and hatred of others to murder. Before murder becomes a physical act, people often “murder” others in their mind (and with their mouths) by dehumanizing them:

 

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 7:21-22)

 

Furthermore, we also have this statement by Paul in Galatians 3:26-28:

 

“…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

 

As modern Americans, we cannot even grasp how groundbreaking and scandalous this statement was in Jesus and Paul’s time.  And though this verse speaks specifically of the equality and fellowship among Christians, as we can see from what we discussed above about all humans as image-bearers, respect of others (at the very least), even non-Christians, is a biblical value.

Along with the above teachings, we also have the commands to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18; Mark 12:31), to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44), and to even do good for those who hate you (Luke 6:27), all commands Jesus highlights in the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

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The Real Good Samaritan

Being a “Good Samaritan” has become a phrase in modern English to denote a person who practices kindness to strangers, but the deeper meaning of the parable is lost on modern audiences because they don’t know the full context.

In a discussion in Luke 10:25-37, a lawyer sums up the whole teachings of Scripture as,

 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

 

 

Jesus says he is correct, but then the lawyer challenges Jesus by asking,

 

“And who is my neighbor?”

 

Jesus then tells a parable: A man, a Jew, is attacked, robbed, and left for dead by the side of the road. Two Jewish religious leaders walk by without helping him. But then it’s a Samaritan who stops and cares for the attacked man.

People often pick up on that the hypocritical religious leaders left the man there to die, but they don’t realize just how shocking it would’ve been to Jesus’ audience that a Samaritan stopped to help him. The Jews and Samaritans absolutely hated each other! It was a hatred that was deep and bloody.

We’re not going into the history here, but think of the hatred between modern Israel and Palestine; think about the hatred between the Bloods and the Crips; think about the hatred between white supremacists and Black Panthers. The hatred between ancient Jews and Samaritans was strong.

Jesus ends the parable and asks the lawyer:

 

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He [the lawyer] said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

 

Thus, what is Jesus’ answer to, Who is my neighbor? Your enemy. Love your neighbor. Thus, love your enemy.

Finally — and most importantly — God showed just how priceless all people are by becoming a man and being tortured and murdered on a cross for all people. God did this so we can be free for the penalty of our sins and spend eternity with him. (But, it’s also important to note that though God did this for all people, it’s still a gift that must be accepted.)  Thus, all people have eternal worth to God. And if every person has eternal worth to God, they should all have the same worth to us.

Thus, we come to our first biblical concept…

 

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

 

NEXT: #2 A Biblical Case for Christian Humility

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