I have posted before about Jesus’s warning in Matthew about judging. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged…and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV)
Jesus’s declaration is so familiar that we may forget what Paul has to say on the subject. It’s not all that different from what Jesus says, but Paul takes a somewhat different approach. “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” (I Corinthians 4:3-5, NIV)
In Matthew, it is pretty much assumed that we will judge, and most of us do spend quite a bit of time judging others. Jesus says there will be a negative result from all that judging in that we’ll be judged like we’ve judged others.
Paul’s approach is to say that we should leave the judging up to the Lord. If we do, when the Lord judges us, we will receive praise (some translations say commendation) from God. Thus, Paul gives a somewhat more positive spin to judging–if we don’t judge to begin with.
Refraining from judgment is a tall order. But if we can leave the judging up to the Lord, we’ll receive praise. If we can’t, we’ll be judged according to the way we have judged. Judgment is serious business, so leave it up to the Lord, the ultimate judge. He can do something that we can’t: see what’s in another’s heart.