We’ve heard that many times and will hear it much more before passing. “Don’t judge me” is spoken often. “Jesus said not to judge anyone,” folks say. Well, He actually said, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged,” Matthew 7:1, NASB. But what did He mean by those words?
Further reading of the same chapter indicates the warnings of harsh judgment, not to give what is holy to dogs, and not throw your pearls before swine. That sounds really judgmental to me. You see, one has to determine if someone is a dog, which requires judgment. One also has to determine if someone shows the nature of a pig. That’s undoubtedly judgmental.
I might be inclined to say, “So and so is acting rather piggish today.” Is that a judgment or an observation? Does it make a difference?
Jesus Did Not Mean to Say, “There Should Be No Judgment.”
Of course, we judge. A good Christian will consider the action of another and determine if it’s sinful. If not, then that is to be the end of it. However, we must speak to them about their sin. Determining sin requires judgment fine-tuned to the words of Scripture, James 5:18-19, NASB. We must use righteous judgment in considering others’ actions, John 7:24, NASB. However, we’re not to judge meanly or harshly. Instead, we are to observe and help, knowing we are in the same boat. Additionally, we hope someone will do the same for us.
We are judged in the same way we feel about others.
Jesus says this in Matthew 7:2, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” That’s key! If I judge someone harshly, then I would be judged harshly. If I condemn, I will be condemned. And if I’m mean-spirited in my judgment, I will receive mean-spirited judgment from God. I certainly want no part of that.
Take gossip, for example. I might spread it around that ‘brother so-and-so did this awful thing.’ That would be harsh gossip. That would be to injure, not to help. But if I spoke to others saying,“Brother so-and-so did this evil thing” it’s not about hurting that person. It’s more about, “Here’s what I saw, and how can we help our brother?”
It’s the same with mean judgment. Judging with intent to cast a shadow over someone is condemned. But on the other hand, describing an action to help someone is not cruel. On the contrary, it’s a healthy way to help, Galatians 6:1, NASB.
Remove the Plank in Our Eye.
By saying this, Jesus meant, “Don’t be a hypocrite.” We all have sin. Therefore, my sin is mine, and your sin is yours. So how can we help each other? First, I must remove the garbage from my eyes to see clearly. Only then may I see clearly enough to help you.
Another way of saying this is, “Pay attention to your sins, for they are great enough.” “Make sure your windows are clean before judging another’s windows.”
The speck of sin in another does not compare to the log in my eye. So, first, I must remove the log. Then, I can see what’s helpful to you.
A Tree and Its Fruit
In Matthew 7:15-20, NASB, Jesus speaks of knowing evil prophets by the results they produce. Therefore, if the evil one produces evil, we know he is a false prophet. Doesn’t that take judgment to determine this?
When one enters the church expressing erroneous doctrines, we judge him as speaking falsely. Paul says we should mark those that cause divisions, speaking things contrary to sound doctrine, Romans 16:17, NASB. Unfortunately, many churches won’t do this, and they pay the price for it later. A church belonging to Jesus Christ must keep with His word or else become something other than the church of Christ! Where is salvation in that?
To determine falsehood, we must know true Bible doctrine. We can distinguish between truth and error only by knowing the truth. So, we compare what has been said to what God says. If there’s a discrepancy, we judge that one as a spreader of ill doctrine. He’s rotten fruit. The books of First John through Third John have much to say about this.
So, be careful in your observations. If you see a brother sinning, consider first your place. You’ll need to get rid of your sin. Then express the sin of others to help one through their iniquity.