2nd Timothy 3:1-4 – “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Whew! Just going through these four verses can be a discouragement. I would imagine upon first reading and depending on your own personal and current state of mind.
This could be a set up if we were to measure others with the intent to be judgmental, which, naturally brings to mind several quotes, such as:
“It’s not for me to judge another’s life.”
“When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
Such quotes can help us from falling into the trap of judgementalness.
The opening Scripture has become a type of personal inventory list. Not a list to take the inventory of others, but of myself. Periodically I must check myself and how I’m doing. How much of these things have crept back into my life since I made my confession of faith? Sin is like weeds. For example: Have you ever seen a weed make its way up through the concrete?
There’s a quote by Dale Carnegie that causes me to pause at moments: “Even God doesn’t propose to judge a man ‘til his last days, why should you or I?”
I personally agree that Matthew 7:1 is among one of the most misused, misunderstood verses in the New Testament.
“Judge not less you be judged.”
Generally speaking, in my own experience that verse is said to me and used as a defense or used as self-justification when I’m not even their judge.
As Christians we are expected to use the gift of discernment. There’s a huge difference between judging someone’s conduct of behavior as in good, bad, healthy or unhealthy. Whether these actions are repentant or unrepentant as opposed to judging someone’s soul. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. So, the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The obvious problem if your using Matthew 7:1 perhaps we would be better served if we were to add verse two…as it was meant to be. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The New Testament book of 1st Corinthians 12, lists the Gifts of the Spirit. Verse 10 identifies “distinguishing spirits”. I looked that verse up in four Bible translations 3 out of 4 use the word “discerning”.
The book of Galatians chapter 5 gives us a list of the Fruits of the Spirit.
Part of these lists are so we would know and recognize them just as we are given a list of negative, poor fruits.
I understand Matthew 7:19 – “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
As I mentioned, I use this passage as a way of checking up on myself.
Each one of us is hit with surprise confrontations, and a variety of unexpected challenges which can give some of the negatives mentioned in our opening Scripture a chance to sprout. The key is to identify such things before they take root and bear the bad fruit.
A Biblical tool I find useful comes from 2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you…unless, of course, you fail the test.”
Martin Luther’s quote comes to mind as a reminder for me.
“Be careful not to measure your holiness by other people’s sin.”
Before I confessed Christ as my Redeemer, I heard a Christian say, “I’m not perfect, but I have a perfect Savior, Christ Jesus.”
Perhaps you’ve heard or read this quote: “My goal is not to be better than anyone else but better than I used to be.”
Philippians 1:9-11 says “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with fruit of righteousness that come through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”