The essence of judge not lest you be judged involves valuing individuals as God values them. We are not our sins…nor are we our good deeds. We are created beings, made in the image of a high and holy God. Judgments detract from that beautiful truth by using an inaccurate scale of measurement. The passage of scripture with this oft quoted verse goes on to remind us that judging others causes us to be judged; it is a simple law of sowing and reaping. Judging others (as good or bad) reveals to us the values we have that do not line up with the Lord.
Consider first those folks you hold in high esteem. Perhaps you admire the hard work that places them at the top of their field; or maybe great beauty propelled them to stardom or physical prowess created a sports superstar. Their elevated status catches your eye—and may reveal the longing of your own heart. A judgment that values the successful as ‘better than others’ or of ‘greater worth to society’ places them (and your own identity) on a slippery slope. In humility we are to consider ALL others above ourselves—but we are not to determine an order of value among others. That produces judgment that endangers.
Celebrating success is never wrong, but using those measurements as a standard of worth automatically places some folks at the bottom of the barrel. In God’s economy, there is no one of greater or lesser worth. The CEO has no more value to God than the Alzheimer patient in the nursing home. Romans 2:11 tells us God does not show favoritism. He does not want us to do so either; He wants us to know others’ worth (and therefore our own worth) is in Him alone—not in accomplishments. God is as able to use all with equal skill. This is fantastic news because we will never measure up to the standards we establish as worthy of honor! God’s way is to say ‘remember who you are in me’…and when we do that EVERYONE is of immense value.
On the flip side, let us consider those in sin. We can never do that without remembering the oft repeated reminder in scripture: there are none righteous, all have sinned. We are fallen creatures who must rejoice in the mercy of God that delivers us moment by moment when we begin this consideration. Doing well does not increase our value to God; sin does not decrease our value. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. The love of God is perfect—we cannot make Him love us more (or less). The mercy of God is to be the sole focus for us and those we see who are captive to sin. The Sword of the Spirit is to be a scalpel for healing not a sword for stabbing. We need not go slashing at sin; the Spirit owns the Sword and when we lift up Jesus, the Spirit convicts. That is His job, not ours. When we slash at people to tell them their wrongs, we do damage. The Spirit does surgery that saves lives!
Just as judging others as being of greater worth for their success helps us see things we may aspire to, judging others for their sins may reveal sins that lurk in our own hearts. Those things which irritate us most in others often exist within us. The outward look of the sin may be different, but if we submit ourselves to the judging of the Spirit when we are tempted to judge another, we may find ourselves in Spiritual Surgery.
God never prohibits something because he wants to restrict us; He prohibits to protect us. Judge not is a tremendous protection. It takes the pressure off of us and lifts others up. We need each other; let’s celebrate the power, mercy and love of God displayed in each of us!