The Bible is the Gospel of Peace. Through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have peace with God. This truth we believe is the foundation for our walk of faith. But there is more. This gospel also gives us instruction how to have peace with our neighbor and to have peace with ourselves. So complete is this peace that it is not only contained within our spirits, but it can pervade our entire being. The Gospel of Peace therefore is all comprehensive, for every relationship we have in our lives, and for every aspect of ourselves.
When Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount He said in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest ye be judged” KJV. So important is this truth that He repeated it twice again from two different perspectives. I can think of no other place in the teaching of Jesus where He repeats Himself over and over again at the same place and at the same time. It must be therefore that this instruction of Jesus is a key factor for His people to believe and to follow if they are to experience the blessedness of which Jesus speaks. “Blessed is,” – that is the theme of the Sermon on the Mount.
Judge not. We understand what Jesus means by this. In fact, it seems quite simple. But what does He mean by “lest ye be judged”? Who will judge us if we judge others? Could it be God Himself? No, it could not be God because Jesus has reconciled us to Him through the cross. We are no longer the enemies of God, but His friends. Judgment implies wrath and anger. But, God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. God only expresses His love toward His people, not His wrath and judgment.
Who then judges if not God? Jesus? This could not be either, only because of the nature of His work He does both for us and in us. Jesus’ love for His people is founded in God’s unchangeable and eternal love for us. The cross of Jesus is the highest expression of His love for all those given to Him by the Father. The entire life of Jesus, His mighty miracles of healing and His compassionate teachings whereby He gently leads us into the truth, bears witness to His great love.
But if not God nor Jesus, then who? Our fellow Christians? Do they judge us if we judge them? This could not truly be either, for two reasons. First, if our fellow Christians are judgmental toward us who had judged them, then they themselves do not heed the exhortation which Jesus gives us there and other places in Scripture. And, second, most of us who judge others do it in our own mind. We do not have the courage to tell them to their face. Or we may express our judgment of the brother to another which may take the form of slander or backbiting. In this way, the brother is not even aware that we have judged him.
Who then will judge us if not God, Jesus, or our fellow Christian? The only possibility left is ourselves. How can that be? Why would we judge ourselves and bring wrath and anger into our own souls? Surely God does not desire that we hurt ourselves in this way. And this is the point. This is the burden of Jesus’ soul. This is why Jesus repeats Himself twice over again when He exhorts us, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” For when we judge one another according to the standards we have set up in our own minds and if we ever fail to meet that standard ourselves, then our own conscience convicts us. Our own conscience can become our worst enemy.
In our fallen state, any attempts by the brother or sister to help are judged by us to be that of judgment instead of love and compassion. We think they come to judge us as we have judged them. And many times, we withdraw from those who bring the love of God to us. And finally, we may separate ourselves, in fear of being judged, so far that we think God no longer loves us. We will be left alone and think that nobody cares.
Judging is so much a part of our sinful nature that at this point we are probably trying to think of an exception to the exhortation our Lord Jesus gives us to “judge not”. What about Jesus Himself? Did He not judge? Yes, He did, but He also knew men’s hearts. Those who were not given to Him by the Father He judged in wrath and righteous anger. But those who were given to Him by the Father He always displayed His love and compassion. This fact is clearly seen by the example of the woman taken in adultery. “Where have all thine accusers gone? Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.” Well, you may ask, what about the Apostle Paul when he says, “O foolish Galatians who hath bewitched you?” First of all, we must understand that it is the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul to the Church, not Paul to man. And, secondly, the tone of the Holy Spirit is not one of judgment but rather of grieving. The Spirit is crying to the Church. It has been deeply hurt by the Church’s apostasy in believing the lie of Judaism.
What about the Law? Surely we can judge the brother if he has sinned by the perfect light of the Law, can’t we? Yes, sin must be dealt with quickly and decisively. We must be very clear on this point. Do we come to the brother in judgment with wrath and anger or do we come with love and compassion? Does man judge or do we bring the Word and let the Spirit convict the sinner? Many times in our lives we sell short the power of the Holy Spirit and try in ourselves to help the brother and it does not work. Then we become frustrated and impatient. But let us remember the instruction that God gives us in His Word. Blessed is the man who judges not.