“Judge not, lest you be judged” has become the most popular verse in our society today. Yes, I’d say even more so than John 3:16. But the majority of those who quote that scripture wouldn’t be able to tell you where it’s found in the Bible, nor the context in which Jesus said it. Despite that, how many times have you been told that you can’t judge, and only God can judge? We live in a world that embraces tolerance; that truth is relative. And any time a Christian raises an objection and does so with an open Bible, it’s met with opposition: “Your book says, ‘Judge not!’”
The word “judge” in the Greek is translated “krino.” It is defined as to make a distinction or determination. Think about all the things we make a determination about, based on what we see or know. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He is not condemning judging (Matt. 7:1-5). If He were, the verses in the rest of the chapter, let alone the rest of the New Testament, wouldn’t make any sense at all. What He is condemning is judging in two forms: harshly and hypocritically.
Have there been times when you’ve made a hasty judgment, only for it to be incorrect? We may not have enough information to make a judgment. One of the characteristics of love is that it believes and hopes all things (I Cor. 13:7). Assume the best in the other person.
Secondly, Jesus is giving a serious warning in Matt. 7:3-5. That warning is we must be very careful when we make judgments regarding other people. We can’t give ourselves a free pass when it comes to sin in our lives, then pick out a small fault in someone else’s life. We all want mercy from God, so we better show mercy now in the judgments we make toward others (James 2:13).
From the beginning, we need to examine what we’re teaching and doing to make certain it’s according to God’s standard. Jesus says in John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Moving forward, then, righteous judgment is concerned with restoration (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19-20). An effort is made to bring them to God. The goal is to save them. If we are more interested in judging the lost than saving them, then God will be more interested in judging us than saving us.
The point is not this: If you’ve ever sinned, then you can’t judge someone else. Then none of us could ever follow the teachings of Jesus on this subject. The point is we must realize that every law that applies to others—who we judge—applies to us as well.