To Judge or Not to Judge, That is the Question…
Matthew 7:1-5- Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, and behold, the log is in your own eye? Your 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.
Now, do these verses teach that we are not supposed to judge in any way? Can we not say anything that is perceived as negative to anybody? In other words, can we ever tell anybody that they are wrong? Let's get to the bottom of this judging thing. Let's begin by looking at what these verses do not mean. Then we will see what they do mean.
This does not mean that we cannot say something is a sin.
1 Thessalonians -22- But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
Romans 12:9- Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Throughout Scripture, we are commanded to differentiate between evil and goodness. I don't think that anybody will argue with this point. From Genesis to Revelation, God tells us what is evil and sinful. He tells us to do this. He tells us not to do this. When God tells us in His Word that something is sinful, we can be confident that it is certainly sinful and wrong. God's Word is very clear on what He considers sin. So, Jesus did not mean that we cannot say something is wrong. We most certainly can and God repeatedly commands us to make the distinction between good and evil. So, this kind of judging is okay.
This does not mean that we have no right to point out false teaching.
2 John 9-11- Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.
Matthew 7:15, 20- Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Jude 3- Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
Titus 1:9- Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
A lot of people think that we don’t have a right to correct somebody that is teaching something that is incorrect. These verses and others take away that myth. We are commanded to judge whether what somebody teaches is Biblical or not. Not only that, we are supposed to point out their false teachings and correct them. God takes false teachings very seriously. That is why we have to judge whether a teaching or a teacher is teaching the correct thing. We can’t sit by and let people be deceived. John went so far to say that you should not receive a false teacher in your house. This kind of judging is also okay. It is not only okay, but we are commanded to point out false teachings.
This doesn't mean that we are not supposed to talk to unbelievers about sin.
Matthew 28:19-20- Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Luke 24:47- And that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from
We could look at a multitude of Scriptures on this one, but we'll settle for these two potent reminders. These verses and many others let us know that we are to take Christ's teachings to the whole world. Not only are we to take Christ's teachings to the world, but we are also supposed to call people to repent (turn from their sins to God). We are commanded to call people to turn from their sins. The Scriptures are clear on this one as well. We are supposed to share God's Word with all people. It doesn't matter what their nationality or religion is. We are commanded to call them to repent. So once again, this kind of judging is okay.
This doesn't mean that we cannot confront sin in the life of a fellow believer.
Matthew -17- If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Leviticus 19:17- You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.
Proverbs 27:6- Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
Galatians 6:1- Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
A lot of people think that they don’t have any business to confront sin in the life of a believer. We are commanded to confront it, though. Jesus gave us a process of confronting sin that can potentially end pretty severely. Some think it is hateful to confront sin, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is the loving thing to do. If you don’t confront sin in the lives of fellow Christians, then you are not really loving them. We can’t sit by and let them destroy their lives and their witness for Christ. So, this kind of judging is okay, too.
THEN WHAT DOES “DO NOT JUDGE” REALLY MEAN?
We have to remember that Matthew 7 took place during the Sermon on the Mount. The whole way through that sermon, Christ was comparing the way the Pharisees (and other "religious" people of the day) practiced their religion and how true believers were supposed to. Pharisees were some of the most critical, malicious, judgmental people on the face of the planet. They enjoyed making themselves look good by making others look bad. They were very good at pointing out other people's faults, but they never dealt with their own. They also excelled at making up their own standards while ignoring the standards of Scripture.
Jesus was really getting to the heart of the matter. One of the biggest things Jesus stressed during that sermon was our motives and our heart's desires. The Pharisees desire was to belittle others. They would gossip, slander, and talk about others. That made them feel "super-religious". That is what Jesus is condemning. That is why he said that they were trying to take a speck out of their brother's eye, yet they had a log in their own eye. They had a bigger problem than the people they were criticizing. But, Jesus didn't stop there. He went on to say that if they took the log out of their own eye, they would see clearly to take the speck out of their brother's eye. It is okay to try and take the speck out of somebody's eye. First, you need to examine yourself, though. We need to carefully inspect our own life and make sure our motives and actions are sincere.
Did you notice that when Jesus said we are supposed to confront a brother in sin, He said to do it privately? That is the exact opposite of how the Pharisees handled things. We are not supposed to be spreading gossip to everybody and their brother. We are supposed to confont them privately and discreetly. How does Galatians 6:1 tell us to approach them? "In a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." Do you see? It is all about our motives and the way we handle the situation. We are supposed to confont sin. How do we do it? Quietly, gently, and with much love (and only after much self-examination). If confronting them privately does not work, then we are supposed to bring the issue to the church (Matthew 18).
When we follow God's guidelines on judging, then it is not us who is doing the judging. It is God's Word. We are not to be like the Pharisees and make up our own standards. The Word of God is the standard by which we should judge and the standard by which we are judged.
Until next time, blessings and peace...