Matthew 7:1–6 1“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 6Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Years ago, one of the most familiar verses of Scripture, even among secular and atheistic people, was John 3:16. But today the verse used most frequently by secularists and atheists, in an attempt to silence the opinions of followers of Jesus, is Matthew 7:1. Through a minimal amount of examination, it becomes clear that these people have no understanding of what these verses mean. What is even more unsettling is that many people who claim to be followers of Jesus don’t understand these verses.
What you think about judging or not judging others is far from harmless. Furthermore, quotations from a passage of Scripture are to flow from the context. People who go around condemning other people while trying to look spiritual are not only ridiculous; they are wrong. But people who say, “Who am I to judge?” or “People need to learn to mind their own business!” may sound balanced and sensitive, but they, too, are wrong.
The context of the statement Jesus makes, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” shows that Jesus is not forbidding the concerned correction of others. Jesus is addressing the problem many of us have, and that is magnifying the faults of others while minimizing our own. In such cases, people may apply a biblical standard to someone else’s life while failing to see its application or failing to practice it in their own life. What is even worse is when people feel, or express condemnation toward others based on a personal standard residing in their thoughts or feelings.
What Jesus teaches is an inescapable reality. Everyone will experience assessment in the mirror of their own criteria. Harsh criticism or vindictive judgment should not characterize those using Scripture as their standard. Sharing truth with others should be done with proper self-reflection, resulting in humility before God and others, as well as an appreciation for grace and forgiveness received. Those who condemn others using personal thoughts and feelings have entered into the realm of God as the Lawgiver. Being judged in the court of personal and public opinion often carries much more weight than the court of biblical truth and righteousness. Even though this is the most common form of judgment today, both inside and outside the church, it is not only reprehensible; God assures us that those who cast their bread on the water in this manner can count on it coming back to them.
What Jesus wants us to do is examine our hearts in the light of Scriptural truth, confess our sin, ask forgiveness, and then humbly encourage other violators to do the same. If we genuinely care, we will confront, but it will be confrontation motivated by care, concern, humility and the desire for restoration to biblical truth. We all make judgments. What kind of judge are you?