ENGLISH VERSION - Bulletin Nº 35 May 23, 2021

Can We Judge Our Brothers?

by Rev. Renato Souza Prates

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Imagens (CC)

A question that occasionally arises in our Christian camps concerns whether or not we can judge our brothers in Christ, and even others in our social life. Basically, we are divided into two groups when dealing with this issue: Those who believe they can and should judge someone else's behavior and those who say we shouldn't do it. What, then, would be the biblical answer to this question?

 

 One of the most used verses to support the idea of ​​the group that accepts judgment between people is recorded in Matthew 7.16: By their fruits you will know them. Is it possible to harvest grapes from a hawthorn or figs from weeds? On the basis of this isolated verse, some people claim that we should rather judge each other's fruits, since we need to discern between the good and the bad fruit, between the true and the false believer.

 

 However, what happens here is what we can call a basic exegetical or interpretative misunderstanding of the text, because when we isolate a particular verse, without considering its context or its message in its entirety, we run the risk of interpreting it to our taste or understanding, distorting its original meaning. When we look at the Matthew 7: 15-24 pericope, we realize that the Lord Jesus is not dealing with fraternal relationships between brothers in the faith, or even with the inter-social relationships that we can develop with our family, friends and acquaintances.

 

In fact, the text is a warning from Christ about false prophets, which would not only appear in the future, but which already existed in the first century of Christianity. It was in order to prepare us to discern the false prophet from the true, the false teaching of the faithful to the Scriptures that Christ announced: “By the fruit the tree is known”.

In this sense, we must observe the fruits of the self-proclaimed prophet, observing his fidelity to the Scriptures, both in speech and in life. If he or she is diverging in word or action from what has been written for our guidance in the Word of God, he must be vehemently rejected by us.

 

Therefore, we can say that in fact there is a judgment that we must always carry out, regarding the faithful proclamation of the Holy Scriptures, by whoever it may be: Pastor, Priest, Preacher, Ministerial Leader, Prophet or Prophetess!

 

 The second group of people is usually based on the passage from Matthew 7.1-5, to declare that we cannot judge our neighbor. Notice that the two groups use the same book and chapter of Scripture to defend divergent points. Well, in Matthew 7.1-5 we read: Do not judge to not be judged. For with the judgment with which you judge you will be judged, and with the measure with which you have measured they will measure you. And why do you notice the speck in your brother's eye, and you don't see the beam in your eye? Or how will you say to your brother: Let me take the speck out of your eye, if there is a beam in yours? Hypocrite, first remove the beam from your eye, and then you will take care to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

There is much to say about this text, but we do not want to escape the answer to the initial question: Can we or can we not judge the brothers? Verse 1 is emphatic in declaring, "Do not judge and you will not be judged". In this text Jesus wants to teach us something totally different from the text about false prophets. There we need to judge the actions of deceivers and liars; here, we must not be judges of our brothers' behavior, lest we be judged. Have you noticed that when we worry too much about our brothers' moral lives, we forget to evaluate our lives?

 

This is what Jesus teaches us in this text, when He says that we must first remove the beam that is in our eyes, and then try to help our brother with the speck that is in his. Locking here means an obstacle or something that hinders our vision. In this case, the vision of ourselves, of our sins and limitations. When we look sincerely within ourselves, we realize that there is no condition to judge others! In this sense, we have no authority to judge anyone!

 

 However, how should the church deal with a morally guilty brother? Should we ignore sin in the church and leave it untreated, just because we shouldn't judge our brothers? The answer is again given to us by Jesus, who teaches us a third type of judgment - The Ecclesiastical Court (Matthew 18: 15-17). There, when a demand is not resolved through a direct and friendly confrontation between two brothers, it is taken to witnesses for testimony - a court. We must understand that if there is a court, there is also a trial. In this sense, the demand or sin must be judged by Christian authorities who will give their final opinion to the Congregation, should the situation drag on to this point.

 

We have here, therefore, a judge then organized and standardized by the Scriptures, to lead a conflict or offensive act to a fair outcome for a Christian community to live in peace. As we saw in this brief exposition, the answer to the question of whether or not we should judge our brothers finds at least contexts: In the condemnatory context, we must not do so. In the ecclesiastical context, it is up to ecclesiastical authorities to conduct what we have not been able to resolve frankly.

 

In relation to the Preaching of the Word, we must always judge the discourse, as did the believers in Berea in relation to apostolic preaching. (Acts 17.11-12). The speech comes before the Prophet!

Contradiction & ParadoxQuarta Palavra
00:00 / 28:53

On Sundays, we bring high quality messages from other sources. Does the Bible contradict itself as some people claim? Today, R.C. Sproul explains the difference between a contradiction and a paradox.

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