Featured this week is the late Rev. Kenneth Cox of Beulah Baptist Church, Hamer, who died March 23rd. Kenneth was on the original list of newspaper devotion writers, and this is his article published in June 1992. His mother has given permission to reprint Kenneth’s devotion.
Why Can’t I?
Probably one of the most familiar Bible verses is the one found in Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
In my opinion, this verse does NOT mean that a person has no right to judge any thing whatsoever. For example, a person who picks up a cup of coffee and starts drinking it only to stop abruptly and say, “That coffee’s hot!,” has made a judgment. On that same line, if a person tries to sell someone a certain item, there is a judgment involved if the prospective customer says, “No, I can’t afford that item right now.” Also, if a person were to try to teach another person something that was indeed contrary to God’s Word and the person who was being taught this untruth were to think, “I don’t think what that person is telling me agrees with the Bible,” that person who thought that remark would be making ajudgment.
Therefore, when Jesus says, “Judge not…”, I do not think that He means that we are never to evaluate or make any judgments of any kind. Basic judgments are just part of living. An old preacher used to say that if something walked like a duck, quacked like a duck, and smelled like a duck, chances are that the fowl in question was a duck.
Well, then, what DID He mean by “Judge not…”?
In my opinion, what Jesus means by “Judge not…” is: “Don’t condemn anyone to hell.” To judge a person and think, “That person should go to hell”, carried with it the idea that the person who judges has the power to carry out the sentence. No one has a right to condemn anyone else to eternal hell because there is only ONE who can see to it that eternal judgment is carried out and that person is God.
We are not to judge others as worthy of hell; we don’t have the power to carry out such a judgment. Also, no one has the right, I feel, to tell others that he or she knows that another person has gone straight to hell or will go straight to hell at death. GOD is the only one who knows the names of all the people in hell. No person on earth has such a godlike knowledge.
No one can send anyone else to hell but his or her own self. None of us can see the full details or motives of another’s life. All of us are frail and weak and spiritually helpless except for the power of a loving God who has the right to judge us because He is sinlessly perfect.
In fact, Jesus gives a parable in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 in which He states that in this world the wheat and tares grow together.
However, at the end of the world, God’s angels will separate the wheat from the tares. Notice this task was not given to His followers. Only a perfect judge can judge an imperfect world.
So, before judging another’s spiritual destiny, one should remember: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”