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What the Bible says about Judging According to the Flesh
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 7:3-5

Why might our judgment be out of proportion? One reason is that we can never know all of the facts or the whole person. Humanly, our experience, oversight, and understanding are limited. We must learn to avoid making the kinds of judgments spectators make at sporting events. A fan may be a hundred yards from the playing field, but he will make a judgment as if he were in a perfect position to see every detail of a given play. He feels perfectly justified to criticize the umpire, referee, or player who was right on the spot and involved in the heat of the action.

We never see the whole picture as God does. It is very difficult to know a person's intentions or his strengths and weaknesses. We may have a very unfavorable impression of a person because we saw him perform in his weakest area. Yet, this same person may have unseen strengths in other areas. Each of us is a "mixed bag," and only God has the oversight, insight, experience, wisdom, and love to make a completely fair judgment.

A second and overlapping reason is that it is almost impossible for us to make an impartial judgment. As a result of our experiences, we have built-in biases that color our judgment. John 8:12-16 shows that the Pharisees misjudged Jesus because they had many of the same limitations we do. They judged "according to the flesh," that is, as others have translated this phrase, "by material standards" (Goodspeed), "by the outside" (Moffatt), "after your earthly fashion" (Knox). But even Jesus, though He was qualified to do so (verse 16), says that He was not judging anyone (verse 15). He imposed the same limitation on Himself that He imposes on His followers in Matthew 7:1!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction

Matthew 7:3-5

Jesus gives us practical instruction on this matter of judging. In a word, we are unqualified. We are not qualified to make these judgments. Setting ourselves up to judge another—even to "help" him in whatever problem he may have—is self-exalting, proud, presumptuous, vain (in terms both of vanity and futility), and as Jesus says, hypocritical because we are guilty of the same problems. In fact, He implies that our problems are worse! They are planks versus specks in the other person's eye.

The great overriding problem here is that it arrogates to ourselves a prerogative of God. He is the Judge. What are we doing taking one of His jobs from Him? In James 4:12, the apostle asks, "Who are you to judge another?" It sounds rather harsh to hear it put that way. "Who are you to take upon yourself the authority to judge this other person?" He says in verse 11, "He who speaks evil of his brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law." That is what happens when we take it upon ourselves to judge another person.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?

Revelation 3:14

Jesus Christ calls Himself "the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness. . . ." We say, "Amen," at the end of a prayer. What is "amen"? It affirms that the prayer is true and one agrees with it. Here Jesus is the Amen. Descriptive terms follow it to help us understand—He is a "Faithful and True Witness." Christ is the faithful and true witness of God—His example is an exact representation of what God would be like if He were a man. Already, He is contrasting Himself with the Laodicean and what He finds so distasteful. They are faithless in carrying out their responsibilities to Christ. They are lukewarm—good for nothing but vomiting.

We have been called to be witnesses. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, "[Y]ou are My witnesses . . . that I am God" (Isaiah 43:12). He has made witnessing our responsibility. We witness with our lives, but the Laodicean fails miserably as a witness because he is so worldly. The only witness Christ gets out of him is that he is worldly, which is spiritually useless.

The illustration described here is as if the Laodiceans were on trial and Christ, the Faithful and True Witness, is testifying against them. As the Source of all creation, He is not fooled by their diplomacy and compromise: He sees their witness is unfaithful and untrue. In fact, the word Laodicea means "judgment of the people," and the entire letter is a study in contrasting judgments, the Laodicean's and God's. The physical man looks at his material and social circumstances and evaluates himself as spiritually sound. On the other hand, the spiritual God looks at the same person and sees spiritual poverty.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 




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