To Judge or not Judge?

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

This verse has a reputation of misuse and invalid justification for sins and lack of rebuke.  After hearing it misunderstood so many times lately, I searched for scripture to help bring light to this topic.  It is always important to understand the context of the scripture and verses around it.

Matthew 7:1-5:  “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. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

As the context reveals, this does not prohibit all types of judging.  There is a righteous kind of judgement we are supposed to exercise with careful discernment.  Censorious, hypocritical, self-righteous, or other kinds of unfair judgments are forbidden.  The Pharisees, who are being spoken to in this passage, believed they were the final judge not God.  – John MacArthur

Ezekiel 33:8-9:  When I say to the wicked, “You wicked person, you will surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin and I will hold you accountable for their blood.  But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

2 Timothy 3:16: All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training, in righteousness.

TEACHING: The Scripture provides the comprehensive and complete body of divine truth necessary for life and godliness (Ps. 119:97-105).  REPROOF: Rebuke for wrong behavior or wrong belief.  The Scripture exposes sin (Heb. 4:12-13) that can then be dealt with through confession and repentance.  CORRECTION: The restoration of something to its proper condition.  Scripture not only rebukes wrong behavior, but also points to way back to godly living (Ps. 119:9-11, John 15:1-2).  TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS: Scripture provides positive training in godly behavior, not merely rebuke and correction of wrong behavior (Acts 20:32, 1 Tim 4:6, 1 Peter 2:1-2).

  • Psalm 119:97-105:  97 Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long.  98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.  99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.  100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.  101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.  102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.  103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.  105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
  • Hebrews 4:12-13:  12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
  • Psalms 119:9-11:  How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.  10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
  • John 15: 1-2: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.
  • Acts 20:32: 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
  • 1 Timothy 4:6: If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
  • 1 Peter 2:1-2: Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation

It is a logical fallacy to assume that a call for judgement cannot be applicable after reading these verses.

ANALOGY: A mother loves her child and will, out of love, correct him when the child does wrong.  Christians should value and desire the rebuke of each other knowing that it sharpens us in the faith.

Before studying scripture, it is important to confess sins (1 Peter 2:1-2) & pray for understanding (Colossians 1:9-10).

  • Colossians 1:9-10: For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God