“Judge not…” ≠ Make no judgements:
By far, the most quoted scripture among those who don’t believe the scriptures to be the word of God is:
that you not be judged
That is because they assume that it means something along the lines of “just live and let live” — or that it means God doesn’t want anybody making any judgements about anything … ever.
Then shalt thou see clearly:
This interpretation ignores the fact that many times in the scriptures, the saints are admonished to make lots of judgements:
by their fruits will you know [“judge” or “discern”] them
not every one that says to me
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven
but only the one that does the will of my father
which is in heaven
do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?
It takes a sense of discernment and judgement to tell whether the fruits of a plant are grapes/figs or are thorns/thistles. If we were not the judge at all, then how could we know the “tree” by its “fruits”?
“Judge not that you not be judged” means — “Do not judge others by a measure you are not willing to be judged by yourself,” and this is because:
for with what judgment you judge
you shall be judged
and with what measure you mete
it shall be measured to you again
We should not give into the natural inclination to be harsher towards the motives of others than we are to our own motives. We should be just a willing to think of the best of another as we are likely to think the best of ourselves.
The imagery in the above scriptures suggests that we should not be stingy with our weights-and-measures at the marketplace. As Luke renders the same quote:
and it shall be given to you
and shaken together
and running over
this is what others will give into your bosom
for with the same measure that you mete
with it shall it be that which is measured to you again
The marketplace is the metaphor used to describe how we should approach our dealings with others (in terms of judging them). If you are critical or stingy, then God will be equally harsh against you and your conscience. If you are liberal, are willing to give a generous “measure”, pressed-down in the measuring cup and flowing over — then God will be equally likely to assume the best intentions in you.
The saints are, in fact, taught exactly how to make sure they are fit to judge in the mote/beam parable. It says:
why do you behold the mote in another’s eye
but fail to discern the beam in your own eye?
how can you say to another
let me pull out the mote that is in your eye
when you have failed to discern the beam that is in your own eye?
first cast out the beam from your own eye
and then you will see clearly enough to pull out the mote in the other’s eye.
The saints are supposed to judge the “mote”, if it is truly there. The only point that Jesus was making was that we should take care of our own “beams” first — before we attempt the removal of another’s “motes”.
Hell is filled with judgers/condemners and Heaven with those willing to let it go:
Luke renders the teaching of Matthew 5:48 as:
be ye therefore merciful
as your father also is merciful
… exchanging the word “perfect” for the word “merciful”.
The idea of our Father in heaven being “merciful” or “liberal” or “quick to forgive” fits in with the teaching that saints are to:
and you shall not be judged
and you shall not be condemned
and you shall be forgiven
We are to be quick to think the best in others [rather than the worst] and quick to forgive others when they offend against us. Hell will be filled with those who refused to “let it go” whenever they felt wronged — who got swept away in their feelings for justice. We all have moments where we hope others will “let us slide” and assume the best intentions in us — and the only way to ensure God will be that merciful with us is to be just as liberal in our judgements of others.
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