Jesus said in Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Does this mean that we should never judge another person? Some people believe so. But after Jesus said “judge not”, He said in Matthew 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” Here Jesus is encouraging us to judge people as false prophets by their fruit. We judge people by their actions. As wise Christians, we make many judgements in life.
There are times when we must judge. We are commanded to make judgements about the evil person within the church. 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’” The apostle Paul condemned the Corinthian church for a brother going to law against another brother and he told them to appoint a judge within the church. 1 Corinthians 6:1,5 “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” “I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?” It should be obvious that there are times when we must judge.
So what was Jesus meaning when he stated “judge not, that you be not judged”? Jesus continues in Matthew 7:2-5 “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” I believe that Jesus is encouraging us to not judge because how we judge others is how God will judge us. We might be unmerciful in our judgement; do we want God to be unmerciful to us? We might even make the wrong judgement. Therefore, if we can refrain from judging, we should do so. The scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. According to the Law of Moses, she should have been stoned, but they wanted to know what Jesus would say. John 8:7 “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’” Each of her accusers were convicted by their conscience that they were sinners, so they left one by one. Without accusers, Jesus told her to go and sin no more. One of the lessons I get from this is that since we are not without sin but are guilty before God, who are we to throw a “stone” at another?
There are problems with our judging of another person. We may see a small problem in their life whereas we have a large problem in our own lives. We should fix our own problems before trying to fix or judge someone else. We might also judge someone else for something that we are doing ourselves. Romans 2:1-2 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.” We are condemning ourselves when we judge another and do the same thing.
We should not jump to a conclusion as to why someone does something. When David was a youth, his father sent him from his home to the battle front with gifts of food. When he got to the battle, he heard Goliath defy the army of the Israelites. David went around asking what would be done to the man who killed the giant. 1 Samuel 17:28 “Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, ‘Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.’” Eliab thought he knew why David had come to the battle, but he misjudged him. In the same way, we can misjudge why someone does what they do. Love should cause us to think and hope for the best motivation of another (1 Corinthians 13:5-7). It isn’t love when we think evil of another and misjudge them. Treat them as you would want to be treated.
We should not judge whether or not God accepts a fellow believer who differs in belief or action. Romans 14:4,10-13 “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” Each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. God has been merciful to each of us and He can also give mercy to our fellow believer if He chooses. Let God be the Judge.
My encouragement is for you to be careful and wise in your judging. Know when to judge and when to refrain from judging. First fix the problems you have in your life before judging or assisting another with their problems. Be careful that you don’t judge another while you are doing the same thing. Do not jump to a conclusion as to why someone does something; make sure you have the facts. Let love guide your judging; judge as you would want to be judged. Let God be the judge as to who he accepts or rejects. Remember the caution from Jesus: with the judgment you judge, you will be judged.