Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Perhaps no passage of scripture has caused more confusion than this one. “Thou shalt not judge” is one verse of scripture everyone knows. But what did Jesus mean when He told us to not judge others? Was He telling us to welcome with open arms anyway others want to live?
Two words will help us better understand this passage:
To judge with discernment and to judge with condemnation are two different things. First of all, let’s consider what it means to judge with discernment.
Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
Note that Paul prayed that the Philippians would love with knowledge so that they would approve the things that are excellent. In other words, it is not wise for a believer to always be naïve and without good judgment. Jesus said: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Mt 10:16) Though the disciples were to be gentle and innocent, there were also to be wise and discerning. They were to use discretion in their decisions. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Mt 7:6) In other words, don’t be foolish. Use godly wisdom when dealing with people.
In contrast to the judgment of discernment is the judgment of condemnation. There is a huge difference between recognizing the sin in another person’s life and desiring to help them versus recognizing the sin in their life and desiring to condemn them.
James and John saw the sin in the Samaritans’ lives and desired to condemn them. “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them…?” Jesus, on the other hand, saw the sin in the Samaritan’s lives and desired to help them. “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
Here is a penetrating question that we all need to ask ourselves:
Through whose eyes am I seeing the world around me:
through the eyes of men that sees sinners who deserve to be condemned,
or through the eyes of God that sees sinners who need to be saved?