Summary: "Do not judge" is a very popular saying by the LORD JESUS, but does not include the full understanding of what Jesus both meant and practiced.
“Pigs, Dogs and Kingdom Discernment”
We live in a society where people are very quick to use the first line of Matthew 7, “Do not judge.” Jesus certainly said that, but you have to understand the important setting and context for those words.
These words are part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus taught us that a Christian’s righteousness has to exceed that of the Scribes and the Pharisees; that it is a righteousness that is displayed not on the external, but it is written first of all on our HEARTS and then exemplified in our lives. It is not a righteousness that follows the letter of the law, but is born of the Spirit of God so that our DESIRE comes first of all from within, because our hearts have been changed. WE DESIRE TO PLEASE GOD and not MEN.
Then Jesus spoke of the Christian’s Goal and ambition, which is to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness above all things and IN ALL THINGS. Now Jesus progresses in the same Sermon, to chapter 7, and speaks of our responsibility to others:
"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "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? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck (or straw) out of your eye,' and behold, the log (or plank) is in your own eye? 5 "You 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.”
A Heart of Consistent Criticism
The first thing to note is that Jesus is NOT SAYING you will never make a judgment, resolution or pronounce a biblical and truthful opinion. We are called upon to make “judgments” all the time in our lives as we faithfully and closely follow Jesus. We are called to “test the spirits” to see if they are from God. We are called to make assessments as far as what kind of fruit people are producing: Later in this chapter, Jesus says, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Here Jesus is talking about NOT exercising a Heart and life of Consistent and CONSTANT Criticism and judgment toward the external actions of others.
The Pharisees and Scribes excelled at this, and often, so do the so-called” religious” people of today: So do we. When you are busy judging the attitudes or actions of others, you are exercising a heart of judgment instead of forgiveness. Human beings cannot see into the hearts of others like Jesus and the Father can, and Jesus STILL loved others, having the complete ability to see into their hearts. Man is only able to see the external actions and not the heart of another person.
Jesus says “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Jesus is speaking a profound spiritual warning here: If you judge others by what they are DOING, you will be judged by your works, too. God’s measure of judgment upon sinners who reject grace is upon their works: They reject God’s grace to save them and so they will be judged by their own works instead of the work of Jesus Christ. They will receive eternal judgment. If you have not received a new spiritual heart from God, you are going to be judged according to your works in the same way that you judge others according to THEIR WORKS.
If a human being is constantly criticizing and judging others by their external actions, that person is demonstrating that they, themselves, haven’t been FORGIVEN. They are showing that they themselves haven’t received a new heart: If you have been forgiven by God’s grace, you will also be merciful and gracious to others; it is a “natural” heart reaction to demonstrate Christ’s love to others because you have received His grace and forgiveness freely and so you extend it to others freely and liberally.
It does not mean that we don’t ever fall into this sin of unjustly accusing others, because we have not been COMPLETELY changed into the image of Jesus, but when we find ourselves acting as a judge and jury against others, we are convicted by the Holy Spirit, and we run to God for forgiveness, and probably to the offended one as well!
Those who HAVE received God’s forgiveness in Christ have had the plank of a critical heart and spirit removed, so that they DO NOT try and remove or judge someone else’s sin-speck. They know better! They know that their sin was removed by THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE. They didn’t remove it and neither did another person: Their sin, was removed by a Perfect Savior, who took the guilt for their sin, and so removed it.