Compare these two verses:
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses. 3 Therefore do and observe everything that they tell you, but do not do their deeds, for they tell and do not doJesus Christ, Matthew 23:2-3
“woe to you, scribes and Pharisees—hypocrites!—because you shut the kingdom of heaven before people! For you do not enter, nor permit those wanting to go in to enter.Jesus Christ, Matthew 23:13
The two verses are from the same passage in the chapter of Matthew 23. Jesus is saying that the scribes and Pharisees are the official experts in the law of God, but that although their judgements are sound, the way they are living does not produce the outcome of salvation. We can learn a lot from this passage, especially as it relates to the likes of Matthew 7:1-2:
“Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. 2 For by what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and by what measure you measure out, it will be measured out to you.Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:1-2
Does it mean that a Christian should not be making judgments? .. does it mean that a Christian should allow everything to happen around them without any objection? If that were the intention, how on earth could we fulfil John 20:23, or Matthew 18:18, or Galatians 6:1 or 1 Timothy 5:20?
Of course there is a rightful place for judgment in a Christian’s life, but there also is an aspect of judgment that doesn’t belong to us. It is the aspect of enforcement (penalty/punishment) that doesn’t belong to a Christian.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has punishment …St. John, 1 John 4:18
The type of judgment that belongs to a Christian is that pertaining to wisdom. People were coming from all over to hear Jesus teach because His words were so full of truth and grace, they were learning to understand life in a way they had never known before.
Now someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me!” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”Jesus Christ, Luke 12:13-14
Wisdom in teaching requires intellectual honesty – integrity to the truth in spite of the costs. This is what had distinguished Jesus from the other teachers (Mark 12:14-17, Mark 1:22, Matthew 21:15-16). Jesus had an authority in His faith that came from a sincere conviction of His knowledge of the truth – that is quite a different origin of authority than that which is derived by qualification:
I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?Jesus Christ, John 5:41-44
Jesus is not the only one who has had this type of faith. We see that John the Baptist had a certain authority in his faith (Mark 1:7, Matthew 11:11), owed to his knowledge of the truth (Luke 1:65-66, John 1:23, Matthew 11:14).
Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.John the Baptist, Matthew 3:4-10
Who else? Look at what Paul has said:
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.St. Paul. Galatians 2:11
St. Paul was, on the other hand, an apostle who wore the honour of being the least of all (1 Corinthians 15:9).
Naturally, we are inclined to think it takes a special kind of courage to correct someone who has a greater reputation, but I am inclined to ask why.
Why does it take courage to approach someone who is greater when they are clearly in the wrong? It is because we are afraid of a wrathful response when their sin is exposed.
Who is a person that ever wants to be seen naked and exposed in their sinfulness? (Revelation 16:15). No, it isn’t “nobody”, even if that’s the last thing you’d expect.
In fact, Jesus tells us about a type of person who thrives on conviction:
But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”Jesus Christ, John 3:21
That’s right. There is a type of person who is not only not afraid of coming forward to the light, but they are in fact attracted to the light so that their deeds can be proven as being wrought with a good conscience (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). Those are the ones who are practicing the truth. They are the ones who keep making decisions in line with their conscience. They are the ones who do not stand condemned (Romans 8:1).
But here we see in Galatians 2:11 that Simon Peter, the one whom Jesus had called blessed, is standing condemned!
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.James 5:19-20
There must have been something uniquely Christ-like in both Paul’s approach and Peter’s response. There really must have been godly love. Nobody who is caught in sin will confess their fault unless they also trust the one who is bringing their deeds to light, and how can a person trust the one who is judging them if they have never seen judgment with mercy?
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.St. Paul, Colossians 4:6
Therefore if we are doing the work of reproving and restoring the lost with grace, through teaching the ways of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then we are dealing in mercy rather than judgment. We are inspiring them to trust in repentance, which produces lawfulness from the natural volition of love (James 2:13, James 3:13, Galatians 5:22-23).
On the other hand, if we are judging a person so as to make them feel inadequate for their sinfulness, we are tempting their pride and reinforcing the condemnation that comes against a person who is found to be in opposition to the truth.
but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?St. James, James 4:11-12
Can you answer St. James’ rhetorical question?
Who are you when you are the one who judges your neighbour? See this:
behold, the Judge is standing before the door.St. James, James 5:9
for the Law brings about wrath,St. Paul, Romans 4:15
through the Law comes the knowledge of sinSt. Paul,Romans 3:20
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.St. Paul, Romans 13:3
The power of a judge, (and in fact the whole purpose of a judge’s role), is to examine whether a person is guilty of breaking a law and then to pronounce their reasoning for having refused to pardon the accused (Matthew 7:1, James 2:13). Judgement comes only from a heart that desires to condemn.
The energy that propels a person to judge is of the essence of hate and wrath (Ephesians 2:3, Hebrews 12:9-10). When the condemnation is for sin, the penalty is everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.St. John, 1 John 3:15
Therefore be patient, brethren, strengthen your hearts because the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain against one another so that you also may be not judged (James 2:13). Behold: the place where the judge stands is before the door!St. James, James 5:9