“Do not judge, so that you will not be judged, since you will be judged in the same judgment that you make, and you will be measured by the same standard you apply.”
– Matthew 7:1,2

This part of the teaching of Christ on the Sermon on the Mount communicates an important message from God for mankind, in that we’re commanded to not pass judgment upon others. Truthfully speaking, obeying the words of Christ, comes with difficulty, and even though this one of Christ’s commands for the church, we often fall into the snare of judging other people.

Why Do We Judge?

Our misjudgments of others have a way of elevating our opinion of ourselves, bolstering our pride, while we cast others down. Misjudgment is rarely an opinion held to oneself, but is something we want to talk about with others. It’s a fact – Judgment and Gossip are cousins. Passing judgment has the tantalizing effect of filling us with a false sense of authority, thinking that our insight and criticism of the lives of others adds to our own importance and value. Finally – Judging others gives way to exonerating ourselves, while minimizing the failures and sins of our own lives, while we pass harsh criticism against others.

What does it mean?

The Greek word for Judgment is “krino,” which means to “sit as a Judge,” and to “Try an Accused Person – as in a court of law,” with the end result of “condemning, sentencing, and resulting punishment.” – Hence – Judgment as understood from the Greek N.T. here conveys the idea of “passing legal judgment” on others.

Spiritually speaking – if we sit as a “judge,” condemning others, and passing a spiritual sentence on others, we elevate ourselves to an authority only reserved for Christ. We’ve been given no such authority as believers in Christ, but we ourselves stand before God, needing the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of Christ, our savior.

Judgment vs Discernment, Appraisal

Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers before taking communion, saying, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread …” (1 Cor. 11:28). Elsewhere, Paul exhorted, “He that is spiritual, judges (Greek: Anakrino), all things …” (1 Cor. 2:15)

This form of judgment is primarily an assessment and appraisal of one’s own life, which is NOT a condemning form of judgment, but rather a discernment of the state of one’s life and spiritual condition. Such “judgments” and appraisals are necessary, which will help us to grow and make changes in our lives, by repenting of sins, and strengthening our disciplines and lifestyle of faith in Christ.

Jesus encouraged his disciples to appraise others (without judgment), yet recognizing the spiritual condition of other people’s lives. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Mt.7:18) “You shall know them by their fruits.” (Mt.7:19). These words of Christ were instruction to the disciples to be appraisers of the spiritual fruit of false prophets. We as disciples are called to be fruit inspectors. It is not sin but only proper to “judge” and realize the spiritual state of others, especially when it pertains to leaders and their care for the sheep of the church in which they serve.

Why We Should Not Judge – Three Simple Understandings

1. We may not know the whole story about the person and the circumstances we’re passing judgment upon.

The lives of others cannot be fully understood by our limited perspectives, and in every situation there’s more than “meets the eye.” It would be better to approach the faults of others, erring on the side of mercy, rather than on the side of judgment.

I personally can attest feeling shame after speaking harshly about a person or judging a person, and then finding the truth of the matter, which should have warranted compassion and understanding.

2. We as humans are flawed, with the inability to be impartial in our judgment of others.

“And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the splinter out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5

Jesus taught that we all have a moral beam in our spiritual vision, which hinders us from rightly seeing the flaws in other. This attitude of judgment, disqualifies us from pointing out the specs and inconsistencies of others, while we ourselves have not dealt with the big issues in our lives.

3. Only God is perfect, and sinless, and can sit in the seat of the Judge of the human race.

It is true that Christ will judge the earth with perfect and righteous judgment, (Cp. 2 Cor. 5:10). Yet, His heart today is filled with love to reveal His redemption to humanity – the price He paid on the cross by shedding His blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

We are called to go forth as communicators of God’s love and Christ’s forgiveness. May we leave the strict judgments of life to God’s care who does all things well.