Only God Can Judge, Only God. Only God Can Judge Me Now!
These words echoed by urban and street poet Tupac Shakur, who was arguably the greatest rapper of my generation by many (or at least my favorite during my teen years.) They were written in response to the way he lived his life and why he “don’t see why everybody feel as though they gotta tell him how to live his life.” Sadly enough like much of pop culture these ideologies creep into the Body Of Christ. Wait! Scripture also affirms this claim that Only God Can Judge Me, right? It says, “judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7). My response is yes and yes!!!! Scripture does teach both but what exactly do they both mean?
In regards to Tupac he is accurate in his assessment that Only God Can judge Him, in fact Paul tells the Corinthians in the 5th chapter of his first book that “those who are outside, God judges” therefore, we affirm this truth. Although I would be cautious to remind you that we make judgments every single day by even those who claim that Only God Can Judge Me: we judge was is acceptable to wear, we judge who should get a second chance, or even how fast to drive. So there has to be something more to this concept of judging.
The word judge comes from the Greek word (Krino) that means to separate, approve, determine, choose, and/or govern. Each of these meanings as always must be determined from context, but what seems clear is that in the passage of Matthew 7, Jesus is teaching on the judgment of motives and not necessarily actions. “Jesus is here talking about the self-righteous, egotistical judgment and unmerciful condemnation of others practices by the scribes and Pharisees” (John Macarthur). Remember that the sermon on the Mount (arguably the greatest sermon ever) is directed at the political, biblical and religious mindsets of that day. Jesus attacked over and over the teachings of their day and even their hypocrisies. The religious leaders were making quick and unjust judgments on people based on motives, which they couldn’t see or know. (Sounds a lot like some people who attack Christian artists) The religious leaders of that day had a wrong view of God, which always resulted in an improper view of self and others (Note: Check out Isaiah 6 on how getting a proper view of God results in a proper view of self and others).
The “hypocrites” make judgments on a person’s heart based on external evaluations of individuals, even though their own external acts of righteousness can and was misleading (Matt. 6:1-18). The religious leaders weren’t concerned about people being helped but to condemn others for not having the same self-righteous actions that was indeed sinful. Jesus warned them against premature judgments and putting one’s self in the place of being the final judge, this is only attributed to God and not man. Notice, Jesus says that it is impossible to see clearly when you have a log in your eye, yet you are trying to remove a speck in the eye of someone else. First, remove the log and then help cast out the speck. Yet this confrontation of sin is always to be done in the spirit of gentleness, love, and restoration. Seems clear to me that an evaluation or determination (judgment) is assumed by “determining” a speck is in the eye of your brother. Paul writes, “Brethren, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
Check out a few other passages:
– Notice this passage claims the person who is contentious and even after warnings is self-condemned and believers are not to associate with Him.
1 Cor. 5
– Paul teaches that the brother committing incest should be put out of the church. And then continues by saying, do we not judge those who are inside the church, but God judges those who are outside. (Read 1 Cor 5 in its entirety – shocking!)
2 John 10-11
– We need to appraise or determine if the teachings of people match up to the Word of God, if not do not receive them. (I want to caution again judging non-essentials here: what to eat, days to celebrate, matters of opinion – maybe I will do a blog in the near future on what are essentials)
Paul tells Timothy that the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Because faithful are the wounds of a friend, loving someone genuinely is revealing the truth even if it means correcting or rebuking that friend (Pv 27:6). So yes the statement Only God Can Judge Me is true but it is also limited. For it is Only God who can determine the final judgment on a person, but for believers we make determinations based on Scriptures in the spirit of love, gentleness, and restoration daily according to the Scriptures (starting with our own lives.)
I will leave you with this: When Solomon became King he had a visitation from God who said “Ask what I shall give you” and the response of Solomon was shocking. Simply put, he asked for wisdom to know how to govern or judge adequately. This resulted in God granting Him wisdom and a bunch of other stuff. Fam, let us ask God for this same wisdom (who freely gives to them that ask – James 1:5), which is knowledge fully understood and skillfully applied.
What are your thoughts? Do we judge or do we refrain from judgments? How has God used this blog to enlighten, encourage, or equip you? Are we to be cautious in making hasty judgments?