Jesus was often criticized by the religious authorities, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the Law, for hanging out with sinners. The attitude of these religious authorities created a barrier between them, people like them, and the people they were called by God to serve.
They missed the boat! But Jesus came to set the record straight! He was a man who seemed to have the entire law at his fingertips, who taught with great authority, yet who stooped to the level of the poor, unlearned, common people (even sinners!).
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I am always amazed at Jesus’ answers to criticism, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” We should never place ourselves in a position of self-righteous judgment. We should always recognize and try to understand the shoes that someone else has walked in. This doesn’t mean that we condone the wrong of someone, but we should always try to understand what brought them to that place. I believe that like Jesus, when we seek to understand someone’s past, we can then help be an agent of healing in their life.
When we judge rather than embrace, we push away rather than draw near. We should want ultimately for ALL to draw nearer to Jesus–but we will never see that if we stand in self-righteous judgment.
Christians are often accused of “judging” whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, “Do not judge.” What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others.
Matthew 7:1-5 (Jesus is speaking)
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person’s eye.
Ephesians 4:15 (The Apostle Paul speaking)
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ.
The Greek word translated as “judge” is “krino” [pronounced kree-no] and is also translated often as “condemn”. We are not to condemn others or we will find ourselves indeed condemned. Rather, we should always lovingly speak the truth and seek to understand and guide others. I also believe that we should do the same TO OURSELVES….not condemn ourselves but always seek to do what is right. We are all capable of change.
When we follow Jesus, the great healer, we don’t find self-righteous condemnation but we do find loving wisdom and a relationship that translates into ultimate healing.
~ By Jan Puterbaugh, Associate pastor