It used to be that John 3:16 was the most widely quoted Bible verse. No longer. It seems these days folks are very fond of quoting Jesus when He said, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Matt. 7:1). Most often this verse in trotted out to put so-called “judgmental Christians” in their place.
Interestingly, when someone says, “Do not judge” they are making a judgment! Therefore, this statement is self-defeating. They are doing the very thing they claim you ought not do. However, this raises the question, “Did Jesus make a self-defeating statement?” It is critical to examine Bible verses in their original context and when we do so here, we see that Jesus was not making a self-defeating statement.
Jesus said, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
So what is Jesus saying here? He is not saying that one should never judge (this is actually impossible), but He is saying how to judge. He is teaching us not to judge hypocritically. Moreover, in John 7:24, Jesus says, “Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous (or right) judgment.” So, in context, Jesus is actually telling us how to judge.
Finally, keep in mind that if you disagree with me and still believe one ought not judge, you have made a judgment that I am wrong.
Courage and Godspeed,