Friends, brothers and sisters…Happy New Year! But, more than that, I pray for you to have a Blessed New Year! I am very excited to share something with you that I have just learned in the past few days, and this is something I could never have gleaned from just reading the Word alone. God Himself began by sharing His truth through one of my favorite preachers, Tony Evans. After I listened to his twenty-minute message on this subject on my lunch break, the Spirit of God began to open my spiritual eyes to yet more truth concerning “judging.”
As you have probably heard many unbelievers misquote or relate before, the following words of “We shouldn’t judge others” aren’t exactly true. This is akin to when people say that money is the root of all evil. What the Bible actually says is that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” There is a small difference in the wording, but a big, important difference in the principle and life application. And the cool thing is that the Lord led me to Matthew 7:1-5 hours before I knew about or heard of or listened to Dr. Evans’ message. Another reason I am excited about this is because, in my flesh, I have a frequent judging problem. It’s quite interesting, also, that this is the first area the Holy Spirit drew my attention to when I earnestly decided to respond to God’s call for me to want me to “know Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection” as Paul did in the first part of Philippians 3:10. (You can listen to Dr. Evans’ message for yourself by going to https://youtu.be/MtY_N2b4ASM. It is called “Caring Enough to Judge.”) I won’t reiterate much, if any, of what the Lord revealed to him. I will only share what He opened my eyes to, but I do encourage you to listen to his message first.
In Matthew 7:1-5 the Lord says, “Judge not, that you may not be 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 a log in your own eye? 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.” We must look at this in context to get the correct meaning. That is the case with all communication, oral and written, including scripture.
What the Lord showed me and what caught my eye in this passage was the mention and use of the word “hypocrite,” as well as the fact that the short phrase “Judge not” can be translated as “Do not be critical.” Isn’t the nature of judging to be forming an opinion? And don’t we form opinions (especially before fully knowing a person or having all the information we need to render a correct judgment) in order to be critical? If we are honest with ourselves, we shy away from admitting, examining and correcting our own shortcomings. It’s painful. It involves work and change. It involves taking responsibility. It involves admission of guilt. It involves calling out sin. It’s far easier to just find fault in others, even if it’s true; we justify that. That’s why the Lord Jesus uses the word hypocrite. (This is where it really gets interesting!)
The Father got me to look at that word, hypocrite. What does its etymology (the study of the origin of words) reveal? The prefix “hypo” (pronounced “hippo”) means low, less, sub, under. And the root “crit” means to separate or to choose. I examined this new information briefly and before I began to make sense of it, the Lord showed me that “crit” can also mean “to judge.” “Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere,” I remember thinking. That gripped me because the Lord is dealing with me on this very issue and it’s what the passage in Matthew 7 is all about. But then as I began to use my own limited knowledge, intelligence and powers of reasoning I put the two word pieces together and came up with “to under-judge” or “to judge less.” That surely is not what Jesus is saying. If anything, the scripture accuses me of judging too much (over-judging)! Then the Spirit brought to my mind the verses that talk about the final judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), the separation of the sheep from the goats and how “crit” means to choose, to separate, to judge. This is starting to make more sense.
But I was still shaking my head about the hypo (less) + crit (judgment) part. The Father showed me in my research that the prefix hypo-as is often used in medical terminology- means “to be deficient” in something like blood, nutrients…or judging. Hmmm. So the Lord taught me the connection between the synonyms low, under, sub, less and deficient. Another light bulb now comes on! Jesus is not saying my judgment is too low (not enough). He is saying my judgment is deficient or lacking. Verses 1 through 5 of chapter seven are not telling us not to judge at all. They are telling us to judge correctly. Remember, those verses are primarily showing us how we should judge ourselves and, if we can rightly judge our own insufficiencies, then we can have a caring spirit (as opposed to a critical one) in order to help, and not to injure, the one with the speck. And isn’t that the heart we should have towards others, especially considering how God deals with us? It takes One with right and caring judgment- Jesus Christ- to judge those under His authority and those He came to save…all of us.
Do you know or recall the most humbling and excellent truth in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts”? John 5:22 says, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” So when Jesus calls those (including me) who notice, point out and blame others while not noticing, or overlooking or dismissing their own faults, they are making a wrong, low, deficient judgment about others and themselves. The standard by which I or they judge is wrong because the motivation or intent of the heart (which the Lord looks at according to 1 Samuel 16:7) is lacking or faulty, or even malicious. It is not to help or to correct, but to criticize. God’s ways are higher than our ways. Our ways are lower than His. When we judge wrongly- not like Him- we are doing so in a manner that is lower (HYPO) than His judgment (CRIT). We are hypocrites.
So now that this ugly truth has come face to face with us, what are we to do with it? How do we take this knowledge and divine revelation that is meant to caringly correct, and not simply criticize? What do I do now? I own up to my sin, confess it to Almighty God, be washed clean, thank Him for working His sanctification process in me, listen to the Spirit’s promptings when I am tempted to do it again, make a different and obedient choice, and enjoy an ever-increasing intimacy with my Savior (since I am a born-again believer). If you are not, you admit this one aspect along with your entire sinful nature, ask the Lord for forgiveness, commit to Him as a follower, give your life back to Him and receive the gift of eternal life and salvation, giving thanks to Him who judges rightly and extends mercy by having died in your place. God bless you.