Contextually Speaking…….blah blah blah

There is a very big problem with christianity today. Its called lack of context. People quote one verse and use it as their default it seems. When you point out sin in a “believer” they instantly seem to spout “don’t judge lest you be judged” or “he who is without sin cast the first stone”. The even sadder part is that verses like these are used so out of context that people just think they are being rightly used. I am going to look at a few verses that are used out of context just to provoke thought about this issue. Then next time we might think before we just say a verse.

Before I begin I want to encourage people to start reading the bible as one collectively account of Gods revelation to us as opposed to books chapters and verses. While books chapters and verses are great for reference they tend to get in the way of the big picture and then people just start quoting something they have no contextually understanding of.

Since I have already used them as an example I will first speak of the two verses I have used (out of context) above.

The first is, in my opinion, the most used by both christians and non-christians so we will start there with. Good ol matthew chapter 7. “Judge not lest ye be judged”. I thank God that that wasn’t the end of this statement from Jesus. If it was we would all be confused and nobody would have any grounds to say one way or another what Jesus meant. But, lo, Jesus proceeded. And here is where the “do not judge” bomb should lose its effect on those who have understanding. I remember when it happened to me it was a smack in my own face for using it out of context and unjustly. So without further delay here are the verses in their immediate context (like I said I suggest reading the bible as one whole revelation but for sake of argument, and time of course, I have limited this point to one chapter )

Matthew 7 (NIV)

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Please first note that I don’t subscribe to any one “version” of the bible so if you do then this blog will always disappoint you. Now I only used the first 6 verses of this chapter because that’s the most immediate context and Jesus seems to turn His attention elsewhere after this little admonition. Let’s look at what this says though. First off it indeed says to not judge and that if you judge others then you too will be judged in that same manner. Ok so let’s ask a biblical question here. Is calling someone a murderer “judging”? Of course not if its a fact. If they admittedly have killed someone then they are a murderer and most would say they themselves are worthy of death or at least a hard life sentence in a maximum security prison. This is judgment. You will be judged the same way. If you are not a murderer though then you have nothing to worry about (please note that God calls hate murder).

Ok the murder example is extreme but that was just to get you thinking. Here comes the real point though. Jesus says something in this passage that most miss. He says to “first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your own eye.” 

WOW

Didn’t see that coming if you’ve never read this whole passage I bet. You see the IS a point and time where we ARE to actually judge each other.

BUT

We must FIRST judge ourselves. And this is not a license to just go around judging people and I know there is the extreme tendency (in myself included) to just go around judging sinful people to condemnation. This too is wrong. We must first attempt to restore (galatians 6). But there is indeed a method and a time for judgment within the Church of God. 1 corinthians 5 gives great insight into this. Also matt 18 (which has another verse people take out of context in it but I will get to that later) has great insight on judging within the Body.

I do hope that you will not only re-read Matthew chapter 7 but also the other passages I have stated and even more on your own to see the out of context manner in which many (maybe even you) use matthew 7:1 in the wrong way.

I think I will end this post and next time write on the “cast the first stone” issue.

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