“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see 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,’ when there is the log 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 (ESV)[my emphasis]
Don’t judge me! Have you ever heard those words before? Have you ever said them?
A few years back I had a student make a very wild and audacious comment to a question that I had posed. The focus of the discussion was to challenge choices made in history and label them as being the correct or incorrect decision based on what they had learned. There were obvious faults in some of the choices while others required more reasoning in order to conclude whether it was right or wrong. The student’s comment in the middle of the class discussion caught me completely off guard. In fact, when he said it I sort of laughed it off and chalked it up as him joking around. But he quickly informed me of his seriousness. This is what he said:
“If Hitler believed he was right in what he was doing to the Jews, then who are we to say he was wrong.”
I hope that everyone who just read that was as shocked as I was when I heard him say it. I admit, when he told me that he was serious I actually got a little angry. I tried not to let that show but it probably came out in the tone of my voice as the conversation ensued. I tried to understand the insanity of his claim so I asked him to explain. He was entitled to the opportunity. In the process of defending himself, the student brought up the concept of relativism.
Relativism: a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them
-Merriam Webster Dictionary
This philosophy has gained popularity over the last few decades, especially in its application to moral relativism. The student argued that, even though the majority of the world looked on in horror, and most refer to it as one of the greatest acts of barbarism and evil in modern history, Hitler could still be right in what he was doing if he thought he was.
In the United States alone, relativism has shaped many unpleasant aspects of our history. Relativism has made room for things like slavery, abortion, segregation, discrimination of any sort, pornography, new definitions of marriage, and being able to choose your own gender. With a list like that, who knows what it will lead to in the decades to come? If societies remove absolute truths, then individuals residing in them have no right to declare another’s opinions or lifestyles as wrong. What is wrong to one person does not have to be wrong to another. That means there is no judge in a society steered by pure moral relativism. Fortunately we’re not there…yet.
I’ve heard a lot of Christians say that we are never to judge anyone. But what exactly does that mean? The key to understanding what Jesus is saying on this matter is to look at the question he asks in Matthew 7:3. How can we judge our brothers and sisters without first looking at the one in the mirror?
If there is only one judge, and we aren’t Him, where does that leave us? We shouldn’t condemn. We shouldn’t be hypocrites. We shouldn’t elevate ourselves. But what should we do? In a world that wants to be gray…in a world that cherishes political correctness…in a world that wants to remove all offense…in a world quick to be defensive…what are we to do?
In chapter six of my book I discuss seven things believers are called to do in a world such as ours. It all basically boils down to allowing Jesus to restructure our hearts so we can shine the light in the lives of others. Not shrinking back, but cause the darkness to be illuminated through the truths of the Bible. If you’d like your own copy of the book its available on amazon or Barnes and Noble if you prefer.
God bless brothers and sisters. Keep sharing the love and truth of Jesus in a world so desperate for it.