Our GOD allows wheat and tares (a type of weed) to grow together (Matthew 13:30). In many ways the two look alike, but there is a way that we can tell them apart: Tares will be more colorful and will stand taller than the wheat. We might even say that “tares are better looking than is the lowly wheat.” Wheat is distinguished by the fact that it will bend and bow and move with the wind. However, a tare will break before it will bows. At harvest time, the tall and proud tares are pulled up and thrown into the fire – and the wheat is harvested.
If a person does not truly bow the knee before the Messiah, if they do not revere Him, even fear tarnishing His good name – if they do not move in the wind of truth of His Holy Spirit, they are probably a tare and not wheat. If they want to stand tall and be more colorful than their lowly wheat neighbors, they may well be a tare.
We serve a GOD who has sworn, “I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong and tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths” (Zephaniah 3:11-12).
In YHVH’s economy, judgment begins “with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). We serve a GOD who exposes sin. King David is called His “beloved,” yet, thousands of years after the fact, based on a Book that was authored by the Almighty, people are still hearing of the sins of Beloved King David. What, oh what, then, makes us so foolish as to think that our sins will not be similarly exposed? When we sin against YHVH, we can rest assured that our sin will “find us out” (Numbers 32:23).
When we sin and repent, we need to be restored. When we openly sin and shame the Body of Messiah, we need to be called to account. Joseph “forgave” the sin of his brothers, but he also spoke openly of their transgressions against him (Genesis 50:20). We must always separate the sin from the sinner, forgive them and seek their restoration, but, like Joseph, we need to learn to openly call sin, “sin.” Moreover, when people continue in their sin after repeated warnings, we are supposed to “take special note of that person and not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame” (2 Thessalonians 3:14; Titus 3:10).
Many do not properly judge sin due to wrong teachings about “not judging” others. To understand this truth, we need to see the verse in context. We especially need to connect it with its following verse, and we need to balance it with the rest of Scripture.
Messiah Yeshua said, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
Viewed in context, we see that Yeshua is addressing the hypocritical judgment of brethren; He is speaking against people having a condemning spirit, against attacking brethren for small faults while we have even greater ones. He is warning people against this because, there is an automatic reaction that travels with judging our brothers.
The “judge not…” verse is followed by a “conjunction statement.” The sentence that follows it begins with “for,” with the Greek word, gár (Strong’s #G 1063). In other words, the first verse is an “A” statement that is followed by a connected “B” statement. The verses need to be viewed as a unit. Yeshua is warning that doing “A” will lead to “B.” The A-B unit is, when we judge a person, it automatically sets in motion a standard of measure by which we will one day be measured. If we use a measure of judgment, that same measure will later be used on us.
To avoid encountering this reactive measure, many people mistakenly conclude that they will not judge anything – so that they, in turn, will not suffer any form of judgment. The problem with this flawed reasoning is that, not judging is a form of judgment.
When we refuse to judge anything, we are in essence saying, anything goes. When “anything goes” among Believers, even the heathen will judge us to be lawless. The Word warns us that, “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Romans 14:22). We do not want to be hasty or condescending in our judgments of others – but we also do not want to appear to be someone who “approves” of sin based on our refusal to judge it. In the end, we will not be “happy” if we do this.
While we cannot judge the eternal destiny of another person, we are supposed to judge their fruit. Yeshua warned us to “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” How do we know enough to beware false prophets? Yeshua said we will “know them by their fruits.” He also said that one day, He will throw the trees that bear bad fruit into the fire (Matthew 7:15-20).
For our own spiritual well-being, we must judge the fruit of others. Sometimes, we even need to warn other sheep of the bad fruit and/or false shepherds we have encountered. When someone is in a position wherein others look to them for guidance, they have an obligation to speak the truth of a matter about a given situation: “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).
If we judge in a rash, unjust, or unloving manner, we add to the problem and will surely be dealt with accordingly. But on the other hand, if we go too far in a mistaken understanding of “not judging” the fruit of a fellow Believer, we make ourselves look like unaccountable fools to the outside world. We refuse to judge sin when it raises its ugly head in our camps, and consequently, the world ends up being our judge. We become a laughing stock. The true Gospel is then mocked and maligned and we bring shame to the Name of our GOD.
When the people of Corinth were having problems with sin in their camp, Paul said to them, “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:1-3).
Believers are supposed to judge matters in this life!
Ironically, Believers often feel free to pass judgments on those who are in the world, but are afraid to say anything about the bad fruit of those who claim to be in Messiah Yeshua’s olive tree. Yet, Paul said, ” What have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). The world is already condemned. We are supposed to be a light to them. If they see the continuing darkness of worldly sin in our congregations, our lights will appear to be dim, indeed.
In Christian circles we find that “continual sins” are often overlooked due to bad teaching that leads people to believe in the idea of “judge not…” This mistaken conclusion has caused many to accuse Christians of thinking that they can “slide into Heaven on greasy grace.” In the Hebrew Roots and Messianic movements, this harlotrous teaching wears a different dress. Its designer label is “LaShon Hara,” or “The Evil Tongue.”
It is true that we are not to speak “evil” of our leaders (Acts 23:5). James sternly warns us not to “slander” a brother (James 4:11). We are told “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2). However, like the “judge not” mistake, these verses, too, can lead to mistakes.
To begin, truth is neither “evil” nor “slanderous.” Speaking the truth sets people free (John 8:32). But, truth too, must be be spoken with perfect courtesy and regard for the one(s) involved. Truth must be spoken in love: “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Messiah (Ephesians 4:15). If speaking the truth about a person were evil, then our GOD would be guilty of that sin, over, and over, and over again. He is not guilty, and it is not wrong to speak the truth in a matter. However, this truth, too, needs to be measured against the truth of our heart intent. If we are telling the “truth” about someone because we want to harm their reputation, the fact that we spoke “truth” will not erase the sin of malice that lies in our heart.
If we see a stronger person doing harm to a weaker person, no matter how unpleasant the consequences, we need to come to the defense of the weaker vessel. We must love the weak ones among us enough to try to protect them. Sometimes, to do that, we will have to address the actions of a leader. If they are leading people astray, for the sake of the weak, the truth of the matter needs to be told.
James sternly warns us, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” He also warns, “The tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” James further says that, if we have either bitter jealousy or selfish ambition in our heart, we must not be “lie against the truth.” He concludes by saying, “Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:1-18).
We people in authority fail us, we first need to be merciful toward them. At the same time, for our own sake, and for the sake of the well-being of the Body of Messiah, we need to be a people who judge matters with righteous judgment. Judging, seeking to discern the truth and to walk in it, is a commandment of our Messiah: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). We must not judge based on appearances, or with partiality or malice in our hearts, but judge matters we must.
We close our study with a prayer:
Father, we ask You to please help us learn to walk along the narrow way that is the full counsel of Your Holy Word. We pray that You would grant us Your wisdom as we seek to speak the truth. Help us to guard our tongue, and to become Your humble and lowly people who do no wrong and tell no lies. Lead us by Your Holy Spirit and help us to be forgiving with brethren who transgress against us, to always be a people who seek restoration, as well as a people who speak your truth with honest hearts.
Amen and Amen.
A copy of this article is also available at messianicisrael.com
We are engaged in some serious last-days spiritual warfare. If you have not yet read our key books and made them available to your friends, we hope you will do so at this time.The Father tells us that, the things that need to happen in the end times, the things that we need to accomplish as members of His Army, will happen, “Not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6; Isaiah 2:9). Our book special this month will help us to better understand the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Messianic Believer.
See the books here: February Specials
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