You the Judge?
Have you ever heard someone say in casual conversation things like “an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth”, or “a sign of the times”, or “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” or “a baptism of fire?” The list could go on and on with sayings like these. Often you’ll hear people say these things that are diligent bible students as well as others who aren’t. All of these sayings originate from scripture.
What about this one, “Judge not that ye be not judged?” Typically people don’t quote it verbatim but say something along the lines of “the bible says you can judge me.” This is usually said when they realize that you disagree or don’t approve of their conduct or choices and then they immediately conclude that you think you’re better than they are. So what does it mean?
In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
In a parallel account in Luke 6 you read, "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." He also told them a parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."
Paul pointed out in Romans 2 much the same thing to the Jews there in Rome. He pointed out that while they taught one thing they were in essence convicting themselves because they were practicing the very thing they taught against. It seems they would readily rebuke and correct and hold themselves in higher esteem over the Gentiles but failed to see that the judgment they made applied to them as well.
What Jesus and Paul are both dealing with is attitude and heart. The point was to remove the pride that was overflowing in their hearts and to view them as equal rather than viewing oneself better than the other. The only way that one can effectively correct and make proper judgments is by remembering their own unworthiness and sin with humility and meekness, then with love seek to correct.
While most people like to use these passages as proof texts for not being allowed to make judgments and correct others the opposite is true. The key is found in Matthew 7:5 or Luke 6:42 when Jesus says “THEN…Then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” If Jesus was seeking to forbid us making judgments on others then would he not have said “consider the log in your own eye and leaven your brother alone?” But he didn’t.
Let’s be men and women who aren’t afraid to stand for the truth, to never compromise for sake of emotions or friendships, but as we use the word of God and the words of His Son make righteous judgments in regards to holiness and godliness for our lives. With that in our minds seek to teach others with patience, gentleness, grace, and mercy as our Father has extended to us.