In his book Improving Your Serve, Chuck Swindoll relates the following story. For purposes of brevity, however, I will put it into my own words.
Robert was a six-year-old hellion who acted out when he didn’t get what he wanted. For example, when his mother refused to buy him something in the supermarket, he would threaten to take off his clothes right there. This worked, until the day came when Robert met his match.
At the dentist’s office, when he was asked to get into the chair, Robert threw his usual tantrums and threatened to remove his clothes. The dentist told him to go for it, so gradually Robert removed his outfit until he was totally naked. Seeing that the dentist had called his bluff, the young boy behaved through the rest of the appointment.
When the appointment was over, Robert asked for his clothes back. But the dentist wouldn’t relinquish them. Robert didn’t have any choice but to walk out into the waiting room in his birthday suit.
I will tell you how all this turned out later, but let’s just say that he never forgot that lesson.
While you have just read most of what I know about William Shakespeare in the title of this blog entry, this story poses a serious question. Today, judgment has become a buzz word for many things we don’t like. So let’s see if our understanding of judgment is correct by looking at how Webster defines the word: “the process of forming an oppinion or evaluating by discerning and comparing careful judgment of the odds.”
Using this definition, it is clear to see that the dentist in Swindoll’s story made a judgment call. So what did Jesus mean in Matthew 7:1-2?
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV)
I have heard many people say, “It is not my place to judge.” While that may or may not be true, the irony is that by saying this, these people are making a judgment call.
The way that most of us use this word, therefore, couldn’t have been what Jesus was talking about. Because if that was the case, He would have contradicted Himself in John 7:24. Since we know that this is impossible for the son of God, let’s probe His Words within that verse.
“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (NIV)
Let’s face it–making judgments is just a part of life. Read the words of Jesus carefully if you don’t think this is the case.
Then, let me ask you a couple of questions. Don’t you make judgments when choosing your friends? Or, would you walk up to the first girl you saw and ask her to marry you? Of course you wouldn’t.
In the same way, Jesus is just telling us not to make hasty or superficial decisions. Instead, by taking the time you need and asking for God’s wisdom, you will be more apt to make accurate choices.
The Greek word for “judge” carries with it the idea of damnation, or condemnation. So Jesus would have been saying, “Don’t condemn one another, for that is up to God. When you ignore my words and decide to take that role upon yourself, the finger of condemnation is pointing back at you.”
Nowhere is this more evident than in the life of the pharisees. But if we are not careful, all of us can fall into that trap.
Instead of having a critical spirit, then, Paul tells us how we are to aproach a challenging situation. To see this, please look at Ephesians 4:15 with me in the NIV.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow in every respect to become the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Notice it doesn’t say “speaking what seems like truth to you,” and it also doesn’t say to put off thoughts you think you should share until another day. All of us do this, but I can tell you from experience that this other day usually doesn’t come.
When we refuse to speak to others lovingly who are not walking according to God’s Word in some area of their lives, we are not being real friends. But rather than doing this with a humble spirit, if we are not careful, we can speak in a self-righteous tone. Before confronting someone, therefore, we need to spend time pondering the preceding verse. In it, the two words “truth” and “love” are coupled together, because standing for truth in this way requires self-examination. But how we approach that is all-important, and it goes right along with the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:3-5.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (NIV)
Paul says essentially the same thing in 1 Corinthians 11:31.
“But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” (NASB)
So let’s recap and put all of this together, because contrary to popular oppinion, it is not the making of a judgment that is wrong. Rather, it is a critical and condemning tongue which, instead of building others up, tears them down.
I don’t think it has ever been more important to take a stand for truth than in the present day. However, any boldness that we exhibit needs to be tempered by a Godly wisdom.
I would like to share a verse in conclusion which says it much better then I ever could.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6, NIV)
Gracious words are nonoffensive. Among other things, they speak of encouragement and hope. But the idea of seasoning these words with salt reminds me of how I like my French fries.
Just as fries are no good without that extra dash of salt, the seasoning of our words adds a compelling flavor to them.
Seasoning made all the difference in Robert’s attitude. His mother couldn’t thank the dentist enough for forcing her son to follow through with his threats. She confessed that her son was a much nicer person after that small fiasco.
I pray that you will use some seasoning of your own, and put some salt on the fries of your words. Let your light shine, reflecting God’s love, and become a healing agent in a hurting world.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 6:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.