When you hear Jesus say In Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” What goes through your mind? Maybe you’re thinking, we should always strive for peace… I would answer peace at any price? Maybe you’re thinking it’s not my place to judge, then whose place is it? You know Jesus did say Do not judge! I hear it all the time that Christians should not judge, that we should never express our opinions or speak negative about anyone. In today’s contemporary Christianity we’re called to be considerate to others, just love them because you know Love Wins as Rob Bell has said… by the way I judged Rob Bell the universalist and his ministry just last week when I found out he was bringing his false teaching to Ithaca New York, not to far from where I live. Romans 16:17-18 Galatians 1:8
What did Jesus mean when He said “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Lets take this in context and look at Matthew 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Here is the question to ask yourselves… It is possible to do what Jesus said and not judge who are the dogs? Jesus said we are to be discriminate… It would be impossible not to judge.
Lets look at Matthew 7:15, 16 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “ You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? Again without judging how can a Christian discern who is a false prophet or a false teacher. Jesus is saying false prophets and teachers appear harmless and my be very nice and sound real good, but the Christian is not to be taken in by their actions and words. The Christian must distinguish between true teachers of God’s Word and false prophets. That involves judging! How can we possibly test fruits if we don’t judge?
Paul said it in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; How do you examine everything carefully without judging? How do you test the spirit as John says in 1 John 4:1 without judging? Look what John says Beloved (Christian), do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Paul said Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! How do you discern what a different gospel is without judging?
Christians are called to even judge each other… The word of God calls for discipline in the Church and that definitely requires judgment. Look at the Matthew 18 principle Matthew 18:15, 16, 17 and 18 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; How do you do that without first judging him? Staying in the context of Matthew 7 Before we can or should go to a brother who is sinning we need to first clear the log from our eye so we can see the speck in their eye lest we be a hypocrite… Matthew 7:3-5 “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? We need to examine our own life and kill the sin we have, confessing it to God 1 John 1:9 Then with a clear conscience go to our brother and bring him to repentance. By having an attitude that it’s not my place to warn a brother of his sin is really unloving and wrong.
Mark Dever writes:
Certainly, in Matthew 7:1, Jesus did forbid judging in one sense… But for now, note that if you read through that same gospel of Matthew, you’ll find that Jesus also clearly called us to rebuke others for sin, even rebuking them publicly if need be (Matt. 18:15-17; cf. Luke 17:3). Whatever Jesus meant by not judging in Matthew 7, He didn’t mean to rule out the kind of judging He mandated in Matthew 18… If you think about it, it is not really surprising that we as a church should be instructed to judge. After all, if we cannot say how a Christian should not live, how can we say how a Christian should live? Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Crossway, 2000, p. 155-156.
Jesus said in John 7:24 that we are to judge with righteous judgment, we don’t come with a self-righteous spirit, we don’t find faults with others pleasant, we don’t delight in it. One of the things I love about my Pastor is he is so patient with people… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 We need to have a right godly attitude. Jesus doesn’t want us to go after a brother publicly, calling them out on every little thing they do wrong and condemning them, but go in private if you see a pattern of sin in their lives without the holier than thou attitude… God has a word for those “Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, For I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day. Isaiah 65:5
A.W. Tozer said “A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.” I love what John MacArthur said “Whenever we assign people to condemnation without mercy because they do not do something the way we think it ought to be done or because we believe their motives are wrong, we pass judgment that only God is qualified to make. James 4:11, 12.” That is something I and all Christians need to learn… that we are to be slow to judge our brothers and quick to criticize and judge ourselves.
We are called to have a right balance, we also can’t be afraid to call out false and wrong doctrine in the Church… Peter called for a right judgment of the Church in 1 Peter 4:15, 16 and 17. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? In Matthew 7:1 Jesus says no to the self-righteous condemnation of the Pharisees, but He doesn’t call us to stop being discerning and examine everything carefully, He wants us to stop playing God. I hope this helps to see there are times we judge, but before I do, I need to first examine the thoughts and motives behind my words and actions… Not comparing myself to other men but to Christ.