“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.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
If there is a verse that is widely quoted and (in my opinion) incredibly abused today it is this one. I have seen it, heard it, and felt it more in the past 5 years then ever before.
“Don’t judge me!”
“Christians aren’t suppose to judge!”
“Who are we to judge”
“Do not judge!”
I have honestly wondered if most people know where this is even found in the Bible.
Let’s take a closer look at it shall we. First, it’s context is Matthew, the first book of the New Testament (which follows hard on the heels of the Old Testament and cannot in any way, shape, or form be separated from it). It was spoken by Jesus during His famous “sermon on the Mount” which if you read Matthew 5:1 was given to His disciples. (I’m guessing at this point the word disciple means more than just the 12 since they haven’t been chosen yet, and instead may mean a vast crowd who are listening to and following Jesus.)
So, yes, this verse was spoken by Jesus to people following Him. Now, if you haven’t yet, take some time to read ALL of the sermon on the Mount. It’s only 3 chapters, it won’t take you that long.
And while reading through it notice there are places where Jesus specifically refers to ‘sin’ i.e. disobeying the commands of God, doing wrong, missing the mark… Interestingly, Matthew 7 is NOT one of those places where sin is mentioned. Personally, I don’t think sin is at all what Jesus is referencing here.
But for the sake of the argument, let’s say Jesus is meaning ‘sin’ here, you’ll notice as you read it all that He does say once you’ve dealt with your own plank (issue/struggles) THEN you are TO GO to your friend and deal with their’s.
So in its context… does ‘do not judge’ mean ignoring the other person’s issue? On the contrary. There are proper times and proper ways to go to someone else and acknowledge their ‘speck.’ In fact, if you read the rest of the passage you’ll hear Jesus also say “you can know a tree by its fruit” either good or bad and that someone who is ‘wise’ is a person who ‘hears’ Jesus and obeys Him.
Apparently people’s actions are very important to God and can help to reveal a person’s heart to the outside world. No, we cannot see what is going on inside, and people mature at different rates and times. But that doesn’t change the fact – your actions, my actions, how we live our lives matter. And maybe there are times and places to call out sin as sin and say ‘this is wrong!’
If we claim to be believers than our actions (both the good and the bad) matter to God and give testimony to those around us. The reputation of God can stand or fall based on how His children behave. Is that not a reason to encourage each other, to lovingly challenge another believer who’s in sin, to spur each other on to good deeds?
“In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
To sum it up, the famous “do not judge” passage does NOT mean that as believers we are to turn a blind eye to sin or ignore it when our brother or sister in Christ is struggling.
Well, is there ever a time where Jesus does specifically talk about how to deal with someone else’s sin? Yep, He does…