Summary: What did Jesus mean when he told us not to judge? Is all judging bad and forbidden by Jesus?
Pastor Greg Tabor
Text: Matthew 7:1-5 NIV
What did Jesus mean when He said ‘Do not judge’(v.1a)?
First of all, this is not a statement condemning all judging. Look at Scripture.
· Paul clearly wanted a judgment call made concerning the character of those that would be Overseers and Deacons. Alexander Maclaren writes, “The power of seeing into character is to be coveted and cultivated, and the absence of it makes simpletons, not saints” (Expositions of Holy Scripture. Volume VI, p. 325). Look at 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. 1 Timothy 3:10 says of Deacons that “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” Sounds like some judging of character going on there doesn’t it?
· Verses 15 – 20 of Matthew 7 tells us that we’ll know false prophets by their ‘fruits.’ 1 John 4:1 tells us to “test the spirits.” We would be very foolish not to examine the teachings of folks claiming to be sent from God. Didn’t the Bereans judge what Paul said by their own examination of God’s Word? To not do so would set us up to be invaded by more false prophets than we could imagine. The absence of discernment is killing the spiritual life of many now as they are lied to by false preachers.
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”” 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NIV
We cannot take Jesus’ statement to not judge as a command to wink at sin in the church. If that were the case, then the church would be corrupt because no accountability would exist because no one would confront anyone because they’d be afraid of being guilty of the sin of judging others! But clearly the above verses require us to make a stand against sin in the church.
If this statement doesn’t mean that all judging is wrong, then what does it mean?
The judging Jesus warns about here is being a person that finds faults in others while overlooking their own shortcomings. Subsequent verses will reveal this as we get to them. We’ll talk about this more in just a minute.
What happens to the person that sets himself up as a fault-finder?
The answer to this question is found in verses 1 and 2.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The person that judges will be judged. Also, the manner and to the degree which he judges he will be judged. In other words, the same standards of his judging others will be applied to him. How? We can probably safely assume this includes both people and God judging us.
A Chinese Proverb says, “Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.”
Obviously the person that is the recipient of this kind of ‘help’ suffers greatly. Moving that illustration into the realm of judging gives us the picture of how damaging our judgments of others can be. And the repercussions in our own lives can be even more damaging. Listen to this quote from Alexander Maclaren, in his Exposition of Holy Scripture:
“A cynical critic cannot expect his victims to be profoundly attached to him, or ready to be lenient to his failings. If he chooses to fight with a tomahawk, he will be scalped some day, and the bystanders will not lament profusely.” (Expositions of Holy Scripture. Volume VI, p. 326).
Your criticalness of others will bite you one day. Your fault-finding will find your faults one day. But we need not be near as concerned with man’s retaliation as we should be with God’s judgment. Alexander Maclaren continues by saying:
“But a more righteous tribunal than that of his victims condemns him. For in God’s eyes the man who covers not his neighbor’s faults with the mantle of charity has not his own blotted out by divine forgiveness.” (Ibid. p.326).
We need to realize that God is the Judge. Our laying into people and being condemning and harsh with them as if we know their motives and as if we are set so far above them is assuming the throne of judgment that only God can assume. We have no right to this. And our acting like this assumes that we are high and righteous ourselves above all others and worthy to make such harsh judgments on others’ lives. Watch out!