Who Are We to Judge?
We hear it all the time in our society; in our workplaces; in our schools; in our churches. Even in our own homes – “You can’t judge me!” It’s a common catchphrase. Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, lest ye be judged” may be the most popular verse in the Bible these days. People are quick to throw that one back at Christians who have said anything remotely critical about the behavior of others. There are few things our society looks down on more than a judgmental person. In a day and time in which we truly uphold the adage “to each his own,” the judgmental person is viewed as a blight on society. Someone to be immediately shamed for daring to disapprove.
When I was a kid, I remember feeling badly when a classmate accused me of being judgmental. It bothered me. My dad told me something that I think about to this day— “There’s a difference in being judgmental and being a fruit inspector. You were simply inspecting the fruit.” Hmmm….
What does it mean to be a fruit inspector? In Luke 6:43-44 the Scripture says, “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit.”
So how do we know when we are judging (which Scripture condemns in Matthew 7) and when we are inspecting the fruit of someone’s life?
Here’s a good test to tell. If you are expressing an opinion that is not based on fact and then passing judgment based on your opinion, you are judging. If you are looking at the facts and outcome of a situation and seeing if it matches up with God’s Word regarding that action, you are fruit inspecting.
A quick example: A fellow Christian starts dressing immodestly, talking inappropriately, and getting drunk on the weekends. Am I judging her if I say that what she is doing is wrong? No. I’m inspecting the fruit of her life and seeing that it is not in line with the will of God. (I Timothy 2:9, Colossians 3:8, Galatians 5:21)
When Jesus said in Matthew 7 to “judge not” he was referring to a hypocritical judgment that says, “I don’t like this person or what they are doing, so it/they must be wrong.” To inspect the fruit is to say, “Is what this person doing or saying in line with the will of God?” If it is not, then it is hypocritical to pretend like it is okay just so you don’t hurt that person’s feelings or get called out as being a judgmental person.
And the next time we feel someone is judging us, let’s stop and inspect our own fruit before we become offended. They just might be bringing a message from God that we desperately need to hear.