If ever there is a Bible verse that is quoted out of context it is Matthew 7:1, and quite often this verse is the favourite of people who are terrified at the idea of scrutiny against sinful deeds, people who are wary of preachers who preach loudly against sin, or against the people who point out any form of error, particularly when such error carries a possibility of being attributed to themselves.
The often misquoted verse reads, “Judge not, that ye may not be judged.”
So impressive is this verse with those on the side of weakness that even deviant politicians have been defended by some of their gullible
supporters at a time they would be expected to pay heavily for their errors, especially errors of lacking in moral integrity — itself a natural expectation in leadership.
The simple law is if you are not better than any of us, then do not aspire to lead us.
In South Africa, a leading politician betrayed the faith of a friend by sleeping with the friend’s daughter young enough to be his daughter — in full knowledge that the lady in question was infected with the HIV virus.
After the lady decided to press rape charges against the politician, the courts ruled that there was no evidence that the sexual encounter was not consensual.
So South Africa’s leading politician was acquitted of the rape charges, and was also pardoned by the court of public opinion over his disgraceful disregard for a friend’s faith and trust, total lack of respect for his social role as a father to all children the same age as his, and his myopic views on the scourge of HIV and Aids.
“We are not here to judge his morality and what he does in his private life,” one of his supporters was quoted as saying. Just imagine being unable to judge a political candidate on an election day!
No wonder South Africa is in such a mess today, and so is Zimbabwe.
We fail to make necessary judgments and we have unaccountable leadership as a result.
This writer has read and heard people getting infuriated on behalf of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in particular; and others on behalf of other political leaders as well.
This happens each time something egregiously wrong is published about the political leaders in question.
The PM apparently goes sleeping around with almost any female on the flimsy pretext that he is “single and searching,” and all hell breaks loose against those that expose the philandering ways of the “leader of democracy,” with many of the critics labelled political enemies of “change,” when they are not roundly labelled
“Zanu-PF secret agents” or untoward State intelligence operatives.
One supporter of PM Tsvangirai posted on a blog declaring, “Even if I catch him redhanded on top of my own mother, I will still support him.”
This is what happens when the naïve celebrate their own gullibility. The PM’s own brilliance out of this mess is the impressive line that he is not the only wanton sinner around town and, as such, his sins must be celebrated and accepted, otherwise he will have no choice but to consider himself a victim of the works of his political enemies.
Pleading victimisation to cover one’s shortcomings is a disgrace.
The logic finds takers, and that is not surprising in a country where the political fraternity is emphatically littered with mediocrity.
We have people who aspire to be governed by the perfectly foolish in this sad context of political affairs.
Choosing not to judge a political candidate who has openly faltered is like choosing not to judge a preacher who preaches about one’s own matters of life, or a prophet who prophesies about one’s own life.
If it is our lives in question, ought we not to judge?
Are we to accept the works of self-anointed and self-appointed prophets as unquestionably coming from the throne of God?
God expects us to judge and we will be failing Him and ourselves if we choose not to judge. In fact, when one refuses to judge they are committing sin against God.
You can read this again, dear reader, if you somewhat think you have made a mistake. But you will need to keep reading.
The word “judge” in its various forms appears over 700 times in the Bible, and there is a whole book in the Bible called “Judges,” written when God raised judges to lead His people.
There is a crop of celebrity preachers taking the African society at home and abroad by storm, thriving on populism prophecy and hypnotising their followers through false promises and stage-managed miracles of all kinds, often coupled with contrived powerful testimonies full of exaggerations and sometimes outright lies.
Zimbabwe has got its own share of these spiritual charlatans, and one visited Australia quite recently, bragging to high heavens about his miraculous powers that he outrageously claims enable him to create money from thin air right into people’s pockets.
These entertainment preachers are masters of old school tricks like telling people their addresses and phone numbers, or telling people that they are about to die and then claiming to be cancelling the pending deaths, retelling life stories they have heard about people from other sources through show prophecy performed before multitudes for effective deception, and so and so forth.
Most of these gospel showmen are simply impressive tricksters coming in the name Jesus Christ, but obviously taking all the glory that comes with their works, and of course milking their deceit victims through demands for fat offerings.
How much would you give if you seriously believed that the “prophet” saw a coffin with your name written on it, and then cancelled the pending death that was only a week away? You would literally give like your life depended on it, wouldn’t you?
Now why do we say God expects us to judge, not only today’s false teachers and prophets but everyone?
“The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.” (Psalms. 37:30)
A righteous person will talk of judgment and he will not refuse to judge.
This actually means you cannot be righteous without a capacity to judge. You cannot be naïve and gullible in the same sentence with righteousness.
Amos 5:15 reads: “Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate.”
Now you cannot possibly hate the evil and love the good without judging, can you?
Effectively you end up sinning if you refuse to judge, purely because you cannot tell between right and wrong.
Precisely because we have refused to make judgment, this generation is tormented by wars and there is no peace.
Isaiah 59:8 says: “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.”
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:10 to “ . . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Why would Paul make such a statement if judging is wrong?
In 1 Corinthians 2:15 Paul says: “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
Clearly judging is a quality of spirituality and we are undoubtedly called to make judgment that pleases God Himself, not to leave spiritual charlatans of all kinds go unchallenged just because there is a verse called Matthew 7:1 somewhere in the Bible.
Even true prophets must be subjected to judgment, not by God but by the people to whom they prophesy.
In 1 Corinthians 6:1-5 Paul tells the readers of his epistle to judge people, and he equates the ability to judge with wisdom. Those who are wary of being judged must rebuke unreservedly those who shower them with praises of being “anointed man of God,” or “true prophet of God,” because that, too, is part of judgment.
In praise or in condemnation, judgment is still judgment. It is not like when people shower the preachers with praises God Himself is whispering these praises to their ears.
They are simply making carnal judgment not different from every other determination we make in life, regardless of them scripturalising and spiritualising their actions for whatever reason.
If judging people is wrong it becomes impossible for us Christians to obey Romans 16:17-18, 2 Corinthians 6:17, 2 Timothy 3:5-6 and 1 John 4:1.
It does not sound like it is wrong to judge when one reads Malachi 3:18: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.”
How can this discernment be carried out without making a judgment?
In Revelation 2:2 we read: “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.”
Just how could God be pleased by these people if He forbids judging? One cannot label another person a liar without judging them, can they?
Writing about judgment in 1999, James Melton listed God’s rules for making judgment.
This writer wishes to make it clear that judging others when one has no business doing so is not the judgment God tells us to carry out, and it is wrong.
We have to observe Jesus Christ’s instruction in John 7:24 when he instructs us to carry out righteous judgment. James Melton listed seven rules about judgment as instructed by the word of God.
The first rule is that judgment must be made scripturally. He cited Isaiah 8:20 which says: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
The second rule is that one should not judge on matters where the scriptures are silent, as was happening with the eating of meats, holidays and so on in Colossians 2:16.
Thirdly, one needs to pray for ability to judge as was requested by Solomon in 1 Kings 3:9: “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”
Fourthly do not exercise bias, favour or unmerited respect for others.
If one is going to judge, then they need to be fair.
Proverbs 24:23 says: “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.”
This is precisely why those of us in the media fraternity should spare no one of scrutiny, more so those that tell our society that God comes to their dining rooms for dinner so frequently, or those that claim they can pray for us to miraculously have money in our wallets and bank accounts — straight from thin air.
This writer is told a Zimbabwean preacher filled the pockets of the Tswanas with the pula in a fully packed stadium recently.
Rest assured the whole of Botswana will be attending the next crusade by this show preacher if this scam miracle is not exposed for what it is — a blatant lie.
Simply put, it is not scriptural that God prints money to make believers wealthy. Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome.
- Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.