What Did Jesus Mean, Judge Not?
Judge not, that you be not judged. - Matthew 7:1
Let's get off to a "good" start and take this verse out of context. Jesus is telling us not to judge other people. That's obvious! Who are you to judge me?
This is a common statement. It expresses the sentiment, "What right do we have to judge someone else?" The answer is: because God commands us to judge. But Jesus says not to judge! Is there a contradiction in the Bible? Let's start by finding out what Jesus was actually saying in Matthew 7. Here is the complete context:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. - Matthew 7:1-5
Here in my office I am surrounded by bookcases. There are a number of commentaries easily within my reach that I could quote to help us understand what Jesus is saying. But instead, let's turn to a more accessible book. The John MacArthur NASB Study Bible. MacArthur writes:
"Do not judge. As the context reveals, this does not prohibit all types of judging (v.16). There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise with careful discernment (Jn 7:24). Censorious, hypocritical, self-righteous, or other kinds of unfair judgments are forbidden; but in order to fulfill the commandments that follow, it is necessary to discern dogs and swine (v. 6) from one's own brethren (vv. 3-5)."
Matthew 7 is Jesus speaking in the Sermon on the Mount. He is not telling us we are not to judge others. He is telling us we ARE TO JUDGE, and to do so correctly and fairly. For example, verse six commands us to not "give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine." To do this we need to judge who is a dog, and who is a swine. This is why Jesus did not do miracles for unbelievers. You do not give out what is precious to someone whose objective is to destroy it.
In this case Jesus is talking about the gospel. We do not give the gospel to those who hate the truth. We do not throw valuable pearls in the mud where pigs will trample them into the muck. And we do not give the precious gospel to someone whose only thought is to "trample" the gospel into the muck of deception and lies. Be discerning. Judge. Don't waste your time with someone whose intent is to destroy the gospel message and you.
I've been told I should debate someone named Aron Ra on the topic of evolution. I'm not interested. He's not interested in truth, he is interested in trampling God's word into the muck. God says to be discerning, don't waste your time. I need to spend the short time I have here on earth talking with those who are open to the gospel. I also need to judge myself. Has God equipped me to be a debater? Not that I can tell. That's for others. My skills lie in other areas. As you can see, I'm making a lot of judgments.
We Are To Judge
Throughout scripture we are not just told... we are commanded to judge. 2 Corinthians 13:5 is an important verse commanding us to judge ourselves:
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. - 2 Corinthians 13:5
In the last sentence Paul is telling the Corinthians to judge him as to whether he has saving faith. The answer will be, "Yes, he does."
This scripture is also telling you to test yourself... judge... are you in the faith? Many, many people who believe they are Christians are, in fact, false believers. They are deceiving themselves. So Christian, you need to test yourself to see if you truly have saving faith. The #1 test is, are you turning away from sin? If you asked your spouse, or a close friend, "Has my life changed?" would the answer be, "Yes"? A Christian will be growing in righteousness. It may be a slow, two steps forward, one step backward process, but over time there should be visible progress. So test yourself. Are you growing in righteousness?
Be like Jesus. Judge fairly and without hypocrisy. The perfect example is ALWAYS JESUS.
JESUS IS GOD
The purpose of the Gospel of John is to show that Jesus is God, so that John's readers will believe.
These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:31
Jesus is God. The creator God of the Old Testament. And the one who today holds everything together.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. - Colossians 1:16
Jesus' miracles, recorded in John, attest to the fact that He is God. He did things that only God can do.
The creator God of the universe... the one who spoke everything into existence... came to earth in human flesh and lived as a man... a human man.
Why would He do that?
One reason. To save you from the consequence of disobeying God. You were created in the image of God. You were created to reflect the character of God. But instead you have disobeyed God, and represented God as a liar and a thief. (How many lies have you told?) The punishment is death.
Only another human can pay the penalty for a human. Only a perfect man. That man was Jesus Christ... God. He came to earth and, on the cross, paid the penalty you earned for misrepresenting God's character.