Did you know what “twerk” meant before the recent media firestorm surrounding what can only be described as a pornographic dance by the once-squeaky-clean Miley Cyrus at the VMA Awards? I’m wishing I still didn’t know. But, I have to say, I’m a little surprised at all the media attention surrounding this. Aren’t people judging Miley and her actions? Isn’t judging others considered terribly wrong in our society?
“Don’t judge me!” lately seems be the quick and easy answer to someone who tells you something you don’t want to hear. All kinds of people suddenly are able to quote, or at least paraphrase, the Bible: “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” “Stop throwing stones—you’re a sinner too!” “First take the plank out of your own eye!” Usually one of those will stop a conversation very quickly.
Does Jesus mean we are not to judge anything, when He says “Judge not, that you be not judged”? (Matthew 7:1) No, Jesus intends for us to exercise judgment. However, before we can talk to someone else about their sin, we need to see ourselves clearly. No one will take someone else seriously if that person has a self-righteous attitude, not recognizing their own sinful behavior. Before we can speak to someone else we need to recognize our own sinfulness. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4-5) Our Savior wants us to recognize and repent of our own sins. And, when we see ourselves as miserable sinners, with our only hope in Christ’s forgiveness, then we can see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. Removing the speck from your brother’s eye is judging.
What about “casting the first stone?” It’s the same concept. God doesn’t want us to be self-righteous, comparing others to ourselves. Our actions and the actions of others should be measured only against God’s Word. Any other comparison is worthless. However, God’s Word is very clear that we are not to continue sinning and disobeying Him. In the account of the woman caught in adultery (John, Chapter 8, the section from which “casting the first stone” comes), Jesus ends by telling the woman, “Neither do I condemn you.” In mercy, Jesus forgives her sins. But He also says, “go, and from now on sin no more.” This is the place most modern speakers who quote these sections of Scripture fail. “Judge not” does not mean we are all free to do anything we like without the fear of being judged. Jesus judged this woman. He found her guilty of her sins and worthy of condemnation. But He also saw a repentant heart. He saw a woman who understood her sins and was sorry for them. He saw faith. And He forgave her. And then He instructed her to change her behavior.
When a Christian tells someone that they have sinned against God the purpose is not to condemn, but to save! When we see another’s words and actions militate against God’s Word and see that this person is in danger of eternal condemnation in hell, what should we do? Should we keep silent and allow that person to be condemned by God to an eternity in hell? Or, should we risk those terrible words, “Don’t judge me!” and speak to that person about their sins? What does God want us to do? He wants us to help that person, “Speaking the truth, in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
So, whether it’s someone famous, like Miley Cyrus, or just a friend or family member, God wants us, as Christians, to help them recognize their sins and repent of them, first recognizing our own need for forgiveness.-Rev. Paul Fries