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Judge Not

Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” stands as one of the most well-known, yet misinterpreted and disregarded verses in all of Scripture. Individuals who want to continue nonbiblical behavior unmolested frequently quote this verse to shut up the “judgmental” type (i.e. Christians). Christians, on the other hand, often look past this verse and recite other passages that seem to give license to bemoan the moral backwardness of the world around us. The end result? We live in a pervasively judgmental world.

Does this verse really mean what it seems to be saying? The short answer is, yes. This verse literally means that we should not judge. Period. Full stop. End of verse. Yet, many students of the Bible will counter that Jesus goes on to say that we are to, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16) Disciples of Christ must be “wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) We are called to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” (1 John 4:1a)

Importantly, the Bible makes a distinction between judgment and evaluation. The term judgment in Scripture brings with it a sense of condemnation and indignation. Evaluation, or testing, points to the connotation of protection from deception and proving true prophetic teaching. God has always taught His people that prophets will be proven true based upon the conduct of their character and the effectiveness of their message (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). We must consistently read God’s Word for ourselves to test our teachers according to His standard not man’s. We must examine, so that we are not deceived.

However, evaluation is not the same as judging. Judging others festers within the individual a condemning heart. This menaces as the great cancer of humanity, and it spreads in the non-believing world and the church with equal malignancy. Unbelievers will not step foot in a church building for fear of the judging eyes of pious parishioners, while at the same time castigate churchgoers as the epitome of hypocrisy and sanctimonious smugness. The church is indeed full of hypocrites, come and join us!

Christians, on the other hand, might retort, “Well, did not Jesus Himself judge? Did He not pronounce woes upon the Pharisees and overturn the tables of the moneychangers in the temple?” Yes, He did. However, we must remember that Jesus’ woes attacked hypocrisy, religious oppression, and the condemning nature of the Pharisees. These tendencies exist in the church today, and we are wise to heed Jesus’ warnings for ourselves. Jesus Himself said these words, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17) Jesus was compassionate toward the sinner and stern toward those who shut out the sinner and outcast.

So, how are we to live Matthew 7:1. Simply put, DO NOT JUDGE. The next verse helps us understand this point. Jesus says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Then we have the illustration of the speck in your brother’s eye, and the log in your own. What is the takeaway? However much you judge others, that judgment is coming right back to you. Be busy dealing with the sin in your own life, not pointing out the sin of others. We have too many Christians calling others out for their lifestyles. Even if you do not speak a word to anyone about a sin you see committed, you can still fall guilty of judging others in your own heart, categorizing yourself as better than the sinner. Acknowledge sin when it happens around you. Grieve it and be moved to compassion rather than judgment.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) instructs us further in this truth. If we go around judging others for slights against us or act like self-proclaimed avengers of the Lord by condemning people for their lifestyles, we are just like this servant. We forget the infinite debt we owe to the eternal master – a debt we cannot pay. If we get out our holy magnifying glasses and condemn others for the specks of filth we see in their lives, God will surely judge us for the sequoias of sin that we have committed against Him. God calls us to have mercy on others, as He has shown mercy on us. Forgive, have compassion, and do not judge.

Josh Moore is the Pastor of First Baptist Church, Sharon, Tennessee. To learn more about Sharon First Baptist Church, please visit

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