Tag: A study on judging

What did Jesus really mean when He said, “Do not judge?”

What did Jesus really mean when He said, “Do not judge?”

No text in the Bible is more familiar, more misunderstood and more misapplied than Matthew 7:1 which says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” because it is often taken out of its original context. Many people, even Christians, quote this to mean that one should NEVER judge anyone.

But is this really what the text means? In order for us to properly apply the verse, we need to have a proper understanding of what Jesus really means when He said those words. You know what Bible scholars and theologians say? That “wrong interpretation will lead to wrong application.” Let us study Matthew 7:1-6 and see how it should be applied.

When Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He couldn’t be saying that judgments should never be made. He is sure not asking us to just sit back, keep our mouth shut, turn a blind eye on sin and pretend it is not there when it is actually destroying the person and the church. “Do not judge” could not mean you can’t say anything critical to another person.

You may ask, “Well, how do you know that? How do you know that’s not what Jesus is saying?” Because when we jump 6 verses ahead (Matthew 7:6), we read how Jesus Himself alludes to some people as dogs and pigs. He tells His disciples not to give to dogs what is sacred and not to throw pearls to pigs. Also in Matthew 7:15-16, Jesus warns His disciples of false prophets.

What exactly is Jesus doing here? He is making judgments for various people. He’s  calling them dogs and pigs; He’s calling out false prophets. So how could Jesus tell His disciples not to make any judgment when He Himself is judging people?

By the way, dogs and pigs are those who deliberately and repeatedly rejected the gospel message of salvation. Jesus is telling us to identify those who do not have any intention at all whatsoever of coming to Christ. We are not to keep offering them something that they despise. We’re better off sharing the message of salvation to those who are hungry and are willing to receive it.

On the other hand, false prophets are those who are teaching what’s contrary to the word of God. They seem to be genuine teachers of the gospel but the truth is, they are twisting the Word of God and are out to deceive many. But how do we know who they are? By making judgments; and when we do, we will know them by their fruits.

Righteous Judgment vs. Self-righteous and Hypocritical Judgment

How do we identify who are the dogs and pigs? How do we know who are the false prophets? By exercising righteous judgment. Righteous judgment is the judgment that Jesus commends. Jesus tells us in John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” To judge with righteous judgment is to judge with humility, not superiority. That way, we can actually judge people without being judgmental.

In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus was warning against self-righteous and hypocritical judgment; that is, someone with a log in his own eye judging someone with a speck in his eye (Matthew 7:3). Ever wonder why Jesus used the eye to illustrate this truth?

The eye is a very delicate part of the face. If you poke it by accident, you may suffer permanent blindness. Someone with a log in his eye cannot see clearly to remove the speck in someone else’s eye and if he tries to do it without first cleaning his eye, he might cause more damage to the other person’s eye.

So Jesus is not saying that we are not to judge under any circumstances. He is saying we must consider our faults before considering the faults of others. Jesus is warning us not to make the same mistake the Pharisees made. He wants to make sure we are qualified to judge that’s why He said, “First take the log out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). We as believers are to judge error and sin, but in a gracious and nonjudgmental manner.

What did Jesus really mean when He said, "Do not judge?"

It is very common for us to note how “terrible” some people’s behavior is, but fail to notice our own shortcomings. We often inflate and magnify the faults of others while at the same time underestimating our own. Jesus urges us to look at our self before we take a look at others. Before even attempting to correct someone else, we must first deal with any areas of disobedience in our life. Because if we are committing the same sin, we will be judged for it.

After thoroughly examining ourselves, it is then acceptable to note the fault of others. We should point it out to them and help them get rid of that fault or sin. Often times, we are only good at pointing out the sins of others but we tend to forget that we must also help them get rid of that sin in their lives.

Passing Final Judgment and Judging the Motives of Others

Matthew 7:1-2 says, “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.” Jesus is saying we are not to pass final judgment because final judgment belongs to the Lord. It’s none of our business condemning others because God Himself can take care of that.

Jesus is referring to being judged at the “judgment seat of Christ.” We will all stand to be judged by God (1 Corinthians 5:10) in the future and He will be using the same standard of measurement we used to evaluate others when He evaluates us. It means if you are gracious in dealing with the failures and shortcomings of other people, you will also receive mercy when the Lord evaluates your life at the judgment seat of Christ (Matthew 5:7).

What did Jesus really mean when He said, "Do not judge?"

A good example is when we try to determine whether a person is saved or not; whether he’s a true follower of Christ or not. When we hear that a brother or sister in the Lord who used to be on fire in the ministry suddenly stops coming to church, we are quick to say that he/she was not really saved to begin with.

It is not for us to know that because that is between him and God. We have no business determining a person’s standing before the Lord. Yes, we do our part to share the gospel, we do our part to pray for them, but we must let God do His business of dealing with them.

Another thing that we should avoid is judging the motives of others. Often times we are very quick to come to negative conclusions about others based on why we think they did something because we don’t see the entire picture, we only see the outside.

We do not have a clue on why people do the things they do so we are not to judge their motives. Only God sees the inner motives of people; only God sees the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “… man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” We can judge what people do but we cannot judge why they do it. We can judge what people say but we cannot judge why they say it. People have their own reasons for doing the things they do and saying the things they say.

At the end of the day, it is God who will judge if our conscience is clear. So we should judge nothing before the time when the Lord comes, for He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).


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