Judge not

How many times in conversation do we hear ‘judge not lest you be judged’?

Frequently this quotation from Christ is misapplied.

When applied to gossiping or to a statement that is purely used to denigrate another it is most certainly correct.

It should not however be seen as Christ saying we should not judge something sinful.

In fact rather the opposite is true we should always raise with a transgressor of God’s law their transgression with a view to helping them cease that behaviour.

We have it explicitly: When Christ spoke to the Jews in the Temple He did not say do not judge rather He said; “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.” John 7:24

God speaking to Moses: “You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow man, do not incur sin because of him.” Lev 19:17

Proverbs 10: 10, 17: “He who winks at a fault causes trouble, but he who frankly reproves promotes peace.…. A path to life is his who heeds admonition, but he who disregards reproof goes astray. ”

Mathew 18: 15-20: “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”

Galatians 6: 1-2: “Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfil the law of Christ.”

1 Thess 5: 14-15: “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good (both) for each other and for all.”

2 Thess 3: 6: “We instruct you, brothers, in the name of (our) Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us.”

2 Thess 3: 14-15: “If anyone does not obey our word as expressed in this letter, take note of this person not to associate with him, that he may be put to shame. Do not regard him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother.”

Col 3: 16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.”

James 5: 19-20: “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. “

The following quotation is taken from the 2012 Lenten message of then Pope Benedict XVI.

“Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christian life, which I believe has been quite forgotten: fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation.

“Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters

“The Church’s tradition has included “admonishing sinners” among the spiritual works of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity.

“We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christians who, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to the prevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do not follow the path of goodness.

“Christian admonishment, for its part, is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other.

“‘Judge not lest you be judged’ is not a warning against judging an action. It is a warning against self-deception and hypocrisy”.

Joe Hannah

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