Judge Not?

Written on 03/07/2023
Christian Dunn

Verse: Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

This verse can get a little confusing, because in other places in Scripture we are commanded to, in fact, judge. In just a few verses actually, Jesus tells us that after we remove the plank from our own eye, we can then help with the speck in someone else's. He doesn't forbid helping with the speck, which requires judgement. Then a little later in this same chapter he tells us to use judgement to discern between false and true prophets: "by their fruit you will recognize them" (vs 16).

So what's the deal? I think that what Jesus is getting at is the condition of the human heart that tends to be more generous with ourselves than we are with others. We tend to easily see (and judge and condemn) actions/words/intents in other people, while often minimizing or excusing the very same things in our lives. Why do we use different measures? Jesus is warning us that the same kind of judgement we use on others, will be used on us.

In other words, when we are judging, let's remember that we aren't perfect judges. There is only One. We are imperfect judges. Built into that idea is the need for mercy. For thinking the best. For giving grace. So even as we are in fact called  to be able to judge between right and wrong, good and evil...even in other people....we need to do so from a place of love, mercy, and grace.

One of my favorite verses on judgement is in Romans 2:3-4, "So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"

It is powerful how Paul shows that God's judgement leads to repentance and is rooted in kindness and patience. Isn't that the kind of judgement you hope will be shown to you? If you are confronted by someone don't you want kindness, patience, and an eye towards bringing about healing and restoration? Maybe that's the point. Sometimes we want to judge and bring swift punishment on people who we know are wrong. We size up their motives and their character in one fell swoop, and condemn them without a single thought. Sadly, this is happening more and more in popular culture. I heard one author (Mark Sayers) say that our culture is "high on accountability and low on forgiveness." As Christians we should be high on both. Let us lead with love, kindness and forgiveness: assuming the best and hoping for healing.