We have all heard the Christian tag line “Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37). This maxim has even permeated into the community of non-believers. “Why not?”, this little “get-out-of-jail-free” expression has a lot of appeal. It serves as a magical cloak that repeals haters from calling you out on sins, all the while you can be biblical. James 4:12 even adds in, God can only judge and “who are you to (even) judge your neighbor?” Conversely, as we dig into the Tanakh (Old Testament) we will see that we are to judge, but if we do not do it correctly it can be unpleasing to the Lord.
The Tanakh actual speaks in the opposite direction than the New Testament on many issues, especially on this one. As we read in the Torah, God not only says to tell someone when they are sinning, but to do it immediately (Leviticus 19:15-19). This message is further amplified in Proverbs; Proverbs 9:8, 27:5-6, 31:9. It makes sense that not telling somebody they are in sin is equal to allowing them to “persist in self-destructive behavior”1. Which is the classic definition of an enabler. So how did the New Testament get it so backwards. Simple, the New Testament is strongly influenced by the Talmud.
We need to remember that thousands of Talmudic expressions were part of Jewish culture well before the birth of Christianity. Then, as proven2, they became part of the New Testament. Even the expression of “Judge not, and you will not be judged” probably came from the Talmud’s “Do not judge your fellow until you have reached his place.”3. Like with many expression, this one was restated in an easier way that caused its meaning to be lost.
God’s word not only tells us to judge but to be quick in doing it. However, we do not have the right to be blatant or crass in delivering criticism to our brothers and sisters. Likewise, judging does not mean to do it behind their back, this would be gossip, and holds its own penalty4. We will discuss deliver of criticism in next week’s article titled “Delivering Judgement”.
- Jackson, William. “Talmudic Influence on Christianity.” Center for Tanakh Based Studies. N.p., 19 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Aug. 2016.
- Tauber, Yanki. “What You Obviously Don’t Know.” – Chassidic Thought. Based on the Teachings of the Rebbe., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.