What Does Jesus Say?
Jesus’ words, in Matthew 7, provide us the best answer to this much-debated topic. And, what we find is this: rather than telling us NOT to judge, Jesus is actually telling us HOW to judge! He begins, v.1, with the words, “Do not judge…” Let’s suppose, at that point, that His disciples say, “Amen”; and, they interrupt His teaching time by getting up & saying, “We’ve heard all we need to hear on the subject of judging others! Thanks, Jesus! We’ll be going now! We’re going to spread your word—Jesus says, ‘Do Not Judge.’” That might sound a bit far fetched; but, that’s exactly what we do if we don’t listen to the rest of Jesus’ teaching about judging others! His message is altered if it’s not quoted or read in context with the rest of the passage. He uses the word “judge” twice in v.1; the 1st half & the 2nd half—it’s a teaching technique; a “parallel” for balance! “Don’t you judge, so that other’s won’t judge you” is literally what Jesus is saying.
The New Testament Meaning Of That Word “Judge”
That word “judge” has several N.T. uses. It can mean “to draw a conclusion from the outward appearance.” It can also mean “to show favor one over another” or favoritism. To judge can also mean “to condemn or to determine as guilty.” So, because Jesus uses “parallelism” here, what He’s really saying is this: “Don’t draw a conclusion from the outward appearance” of others, so that others “won’t draw a conclusion from the outward appearance” about you; and, “don’t show favoritism against certain individuals”, so that others “won’t show favoritism against you”; and, “don’t condemn or determine people are guilty”, so that “others won’t condemn or determine you are guilty.” See it? That’s how it unpacks; and, that’s the only way the “speck & log” illustration, in v.3-5, makes sense! If Jesus meant that we are never ever to judge, He would have taught His disciples NOT to remove the speck from the other persons’ eye, right? Leave it there! Don’t judge your brother over the speck in his eye! No! What He says is to judge “rightly”—judge yourself first so you can accurately judge another!
The Standard By Which We Judge
Because of our fallenness, most of our judging isn’t very righteous! We’re incapable of judging “rightly” in our spiritual brokenness! We need God, His Word & the indwelling Spirit to help us-we’re NOT the standard by which we judge! God alone is the perfect Judge! Only what He calls “sin” do we “judge” as sin! Nothing else! Imagine how beautiful the church would be if we quit judging on the basis of appearance; or, if we quit being harsh in our judgment; or, if we were quick to forgive; or, if we quit judging on the basis of our own self-righteousness & only judged sin as God judges it; or, if we stopped the liar or gossip in their tracks. “God, help us grow in this area so the world will see how beautiful the bride of Christ can be!“-Amen!