To Judge or Not to Judge



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.
6“Do 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, the most oft quoted verse of the Bible was John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” What a fantastic representation of the message of the Bible. Now, the most oft quoted verse of the Bible is Matthew 7:7. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” And it isn’t quoted by Christians, but by non-Christians who would hold us up to a very worldly standard. This verse is a handy clunk over the head when we wish to hold the world to God’s standards by people who really don’t care about God’s standards and they certainly don’t want to be judged by Him.

So what is this verse actually referring to as we go about our daily lives? It certainly cannot mean that we are stripped of our ability to make moral judgments about what goes on around us, can it? In order to untangle this knot created by people who are not truly familiar with the Scriptures, we need to once again allow the Bible to speak for itself. First of all, let’s keep the passage in context. Jesus is speaking here about life inside of the Kingdom of God. That means He is talking about our relationships with other believers. As such, I am warned to keep a close eye upon my own “sin situations” before I arrogantly point out the flaws in the life of another believer. To set myself as judge over another person's life is a dangerous place to be because I too am a sinful being. My guilt is going to rise up and smack me in the mouth should I try to correct the life of another before taking note of my own sins. Should I choose to become judge over the life of a brother or sister in Christ, that same standard of perfection will be used on me by God Himself. The thought makes my stomach hurt.

Do we have the right to stand in judgment over anything in our lives? Absolutely. We do it every day and it is not sin. Would you rather spend time as the friend of Adolph Hitler or Billy Graham? If you made a silent choice there, you have made a judgment and there no sin in that. When you go into the voting booth and select the candidates of your choice you are making judgments based on what you have learned about them. There is no sin there. So, when someone tries to throw this verse at you so that you are shamed when you make a judgment about right and wrong, they are acting out of ignorance. But it is okay not to point that out to them, because no one is won for the Kingdom of God through argument! That takes us to “throwing pearls before pigs.” Don’t waste your time or reputation in argumentation. It never moves people toward God. Your actions of love and compassion – that is what will move a person.

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