Keeping our hearts from unfair judgment

When we criticize, it becomes that much more difficult to forgive.

When we criticize, it becomes that much more difficult to forgive.

Matthew 7:1-2 – “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

This command of Yeshua to not be unjustly critical of others comes in the context of avoiding hypocrisy.

Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”

However, beyond avoiding hypocrisy, and if we are honest with ourselves, we can recognize that when we are unjustly critical of others who are close to us we diminish our ability to provide forgiveness to them.

Judgment is the opposite of forgiveness, and harboring critical judgment in our hearts toward someone else numbs our sensitivity to forgiving them if they were to come to us in repentance toward some personal injustice. Because we have pre-judged them, we already have a negative emotion that is easier to act on than a rational acceptance of their genuine repentance which can lead to our forgiveness.

This pre-disposition to unfairly judge others is so common that Yeshua felt it was necessary to issue a clear command to avoid it at all costs.

In the story of the Prodigal son, Yeshua describes how the Father’s love for the son allowed him to suspend judgment on the son’s actions because of the larger benefit and joy of having his repentant son home again. The brother’s reaction was critical because of his jealousy at the prodigal’s apparent avoidance of accountability for poor choices. But it was not the brother’s place to judge the prodigal; it was the father’s, and the father had forgiven the prodigal son. So the brother ended up being judgmental and frustrated for essentially no reason. He could not participate in the celebration of the prodigal’s return because of the unjust judgment that he retained in his heart.

And this is an unintended result of our retention of unfair judgment of others; it robs us of joy. There is nothing happy about wanting to hold judgment over others when there is no reason to do so. This insistence on retaining criticism causes frustration and ongoing hostility. Instead, we should focus on removing unfair judgment from our hearts, especially when it is not within our right to judge someone else, or as in the case of the prodigal, someone else’s son.

Paul uses this logic when speaking of the critical judgments that existed between believers in the Roman congregation:

Romans 14:4 – “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall…”

When we realize it is not up to us to judge everybody else, we can instead focus on building positive relationships and remain open to avenues of forgiveness when inadvertent wrongs are committed and repented of.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Forgiveness that creates unity among believers

Opinions do not equate to biblical core doctrine.

Romans 14:4 – Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.

I really dislike commenting on Romans 14 because I believe it is such a widely misunderstood passage. The root of Paul’s teaching, while true, unfortunately seems to get painted as a “live and let live” philosophy about any and all doctrinal differences that believers may have about what they believe, and yet that is not actually the case.

I believe that what Paul is commenting on is the unforgiving spirit between believers who have differences of opinion about man-made tradition and practice, some things having value, but not all. These man-made traditions are not necessary for all to believe like the cornerstone doctrines of the faith.

Here Paul lists some of those differences of opinions:

Romans 14:5-6 – One person judges one day to be more important than another day. Someone else judges every day to be the same. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, and he gives thanks to God.

These issues are discussing the man-made traditions, specifically fasting on days that were considered special days that had arisen among the Jews and some believers. Some even included multiple days each week, as illustrated by the parable of Yeshua:

Luke 18:11-12 – “The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people ​– ​greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.'”

Why was he fasting twice a week? There is no command within the Torah to do so. The only fast that is commanded is that of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. There was no other honoring of other days for fasting, whether for personal self-righteousness (as this Pharisee represents) or communal observance.

Additionally, Luke represents that the disciples of John the baptizer also fasted regularly, along with those restrictive practices of the Pharisees.

Luke 5:33 – “Then they said to him, “John’s disciples fast often and say prayers, and those of the Pharisees do the same, but yours eat and drink.”

It would seem that many Jewish believers who had been raised with these traditions, along with disciples who had come to Messiah under the ministry of John the baptizer began to carry them over into their New Covenant practices, and were encouraging others to do so, as well. Even today orthodox Jews have three other annual fast days on their traditional annual calendar that are not commanded within the Torah. This demonstrates how hard it is to kill these types of traditions.

The Jews had many restrictions and designations for honoring days that arose far above the holy calendar that God had provided in Torah. In this passage, Paul is trying to create a sense of unity between the believers. There were plenty of different traditions they had been raised in, but he was encouraging them not to judge one another about issues that were not clearly commanded in Torah.

Romans 14:1 – “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters.”

According to Strong’s definitions, “arguing” about these “disputed matters” is a phrase which literally means “passing judgment on discussions, considerations, or debates.” It would have been illogical and quite honestly heretical for Paul to consider legitimate commands within the Torah as being “debatable” opinions. He himself kept the Fast of Yom Kippur and the commands of the Torah (see Acts 18:21; 21:24). These have never been in question among believers in the one true God.

I believe Romans 14 is about Paul trying to minimize the unjust judgment that was going on among believers in the congregation. Those who were mistreating or arguing with others who were disagreeing over points of opinion rather than true doctrinal issues.

Romans 14:10 – But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Paul is encouraging some latitude among the believers because they were all subservient to the one true God. There should not be disputes over opinions and preferences; Paul implies those things may have been helpful to those immature believers in their new-found faith. Those who relied on these traditional practices were to be shown grace by the more mature believers for the sake of the unity of the congregations. As they were to grow in the faith, God could change their hearts as they began to recognize the futility of the man-made traditions, and that would take time.

Unfortunately, we see the same thing today among believing congregations. People will argue vehemently over how to dress when meeting together, or what time of day the meeting should take place, or what type of music should be performed. I have seen disputes over whether chairs or pews should be used or if children should be included in the meetings or separated out. ALL of these issues are non-essential to the faith and have caused strife and unnecessary divisions within the kingdom of God today.

However, if we can take Paul’s advice and learn rather to accept one another’s misunderstandings about these “debatable” issues, we can exhibit forgiveness that creates unity among God’s people that others will be able to recognize, to God’s glory and honor.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.