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As we come to the 33rd secret of following Jesus we insert ourselves into the last 3rd of Jesus' extensive teaching in Matthew 5-7. Jesus shifts gears a bit here and emphasizes a few principles on how to relate to one another, especially when you are not necessarily in full agreement. It's here that Jesus makes a statement that has been one of the most frequently quoted sayings of Jesus. Even though this saying is widely quoted, its intended meaning is rarely fully understood.
The popular saying I'm talking about is "Don't judge that you be not judged." Here's the full quote of Jesus: "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." (Matthew 7:1-2)
This passage seems to say "No judging!" and is commonly quoted in this way.
However, there are so many other passages in the Scripture that imply the necessity for making judgment calls in a variety of ways. There has to be sound judgment in our world, otherwise there would be chaos, confusion, attractive cults and cultishness, rampant lying throughout our society and immorality reigning on every hand. But wait a minute! That's exactly what we have now! It's because of the misunderstanding of what this passage really means.
There are two types of judgment: FIRST-There is condemnation kind of judgment-a pronouncement of condemnation and rejection that is reserved for God only. SECOND-There is conclusion kind of judgment-making a judgment call after examining the evidence. This is really a personal responsibility for us.
This passage isn't saying not to judge, but when you judge, make conclusions about things and people. Judging by making conclusions about a person or a matter is really having a rare wisdom quality of life-discernment. We desperately need more discernment to understand what's right and wrong, good and evil, wise and foolish.
The great need for discernment-for making judgment calls and conclusions about a variety of things sets us up for SECRET #33: The follower of Jesus judges by conclusion, never condemnation.
And, as you make conclusion kind of judgments, be sure to conduct your judgment in the proper way. There are 4 steps for doing this that we'll handle one day at a time.
STEP #1-JUDGE WITH THE PROPER SPIRIT: "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." In essence, Jesus is saying that when you judge another with conclusion kind of judgment, understand that you will be judged by others in precisely the same area. If you are critical of another's parenting style, you will be critically analyzed for your parenting prowess.
So, what is the proper spirit? I think it's the balance between grace and truth. Practically speaking, to have the proper spirit in making conclusions or exercising discernment, you must view life and people through the eyes of Jesus. By the way, who is the only one who is said to be "full of grace and truth"? Only Jesus. So judging with the proper spirit is treating others as Jesus would treat them. SECRET #33 is The follower of Jesus judges by conclusion, never condemnation.