By Ryan Kelly –
I have found that the most commonly misused verse of the Bible is Matthew 7:1 “judge not or you too will be judged.” Many will make a point at saying that Christians are not to judge. Is this accurate?
One problem that many have is that they will take the verse out of context. Let’s continue reading with verse 2, “For in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
These latter two verses elaborate about judgement. It does not say that we should not judge, but that we will be judged by the same measure. This makes sense, right? Have you ever helped someone with a problem that you once faced? It is helpful to have been there before. But, would you help someone with a problem when you are facing the same problem? I would hope not. You will be of no help, and you may make the problem even worse with bad advice.
Verse 5 goes on to say “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.” Not only does this ‘not’ say to not judge, but it actually instructs us ‘to’ judge once we are able to do so rightly.
But what is judgement?
Jesus speaks in John 12:47 and says, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” This comes to an issue of phrasing. Judgement in this sense is condemnation. Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save. Likewise, as reflections of the radiance of Jesus, we are not to condemn but to show the light of Jesus.
John tells us that Jesus will eventually indeed condemn when He returns. John 16:8 states “and He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
Judgement in Mathew 7 is not a judgement of condemnation, but a judgement of love to help a brother or sister out of sin. It is a judgement of right vs wrong, good vs evil, and it is reserved only for those that have a heart after God and can judge rightly. It is never for selfish ambition or personal gain. Rather like with Christ, it is sacrificial.
Should we welcome judgement?
If judgement is is helpful for rejecting sin, should we welcome it? In Romans 8:3, Paul tells us, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.” Jesus condemned sin through His work on the cross, and this is what gives us life.
So yes, we should rejoice in that sin had been conquered and through Christ we can reject it. We should entourage others to judge us rightly so that we can compel the power of Christ against our own sin. And we should judge others rightly so that we can help them to compel the power of Christ against their own sin.
The world treats judgement as wrong. As Christians, it is one of our most powerful gifts for both ourselves and others. We must judge rightly and with love, and this is judgement that brings glory to God for the sanctification of ourselves and others.