In Matthew 7:1 Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Last post, 3 Truths About Judging, discussed what this verse is not saying: judging is wrong. So what is it saying? The primary rule for interpreting Scripture is to look at context. Let the Bible be the commentary on the Bible. Matthew 7:2 says:
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
We will be judged with the same standard we use with others
If you judge someone for doing something, you better make sure you don’t do it. If you judge people for:
- Lying, you better not lie
- Losing their tempers, you better not lose your temper
- Being late late, you better be on time
- Watching or listening to things they shouldn’t, you better not watch or listen to anything compromising
- Gossiping, you better not gossip
- Not serving, you better be a servant
There’s nothing wrong with saying something is sin, but there is something wrong with saying something is sin while committing the same sin yourself. It’s similar to Romans 2:1:
You are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
If we judge something to be sin in someone else’s life we’re showing we know it to be wrong, and therefore we’re without excuse if we commit that same sin. If you think something is wrong for someone else, you better think it’s wrong for you.
The issue is not judging, but hypocrisy
Matthew 7:3-5 reveals what Jesus is condemning:
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.
How can you be concerned about a speck in someone else’s life when something as bad (or worse) is in your own life? That is the height of hypocrisy. It wouldn’t be too much to say these verses are not primarily about judging. They are primarily about hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with saying – or judging – that something is wrong. But there is something wrong with saying something is wrong while doing it yourself.
An example takes place with David before he repented of his sins of adultery and murder. Nathan the prophet shared a story with David about a rich man who stole a lamb from a poor man, then 2 Samuel 12:5-7a records:
David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!”
Remove the speck, but be sure to remove the plank first
Jesus didn’t say not to judge, i.e. he didn’t say not to remove the speck from someone else’s eye. But He did say to make sure you have judged yourself first, i.e. removed the sin from your own life before trying to remove it from someone else’s life.
Why is this so important? When we confront others their flesh will flare up and they’ll want to find sin in our life. They’ll want to say something like, “Oh yeah, well what about you…” Jesus’ words allow us to have the credibility we need confronting someone else.
Discuss: Have there been times when you judged people and they turned the tables and pointed out something in your life? Have there been times when people judged you and that’s how you responded?