To a degree, judging is something we are all guilty of from time to time. We make judgments based on how people dress, look, talk, and drive. Our judgments may seem insignificant at the moment, but we are forging a mindset that distorts our perspective and alters our outlook on people and situations.
In Matthew 7 Jesus confronts His audience on whether to judge or not to judge. We can sometimes misunderstand or misinterpret what Jesus says because our English language does not always translate well from the original text.
For example, the bible uses three words to describe love; phileo (brotherly love), eros (romantic love), and agape (unconditional love). These three words are simply translated as ‘love’ in English. Whether we are talking about our love for our husband or wife or our vehicle, it’s the same word.
Let’s look at four points from Jesus teaching on judging.
First, it’s important that we understand the meaning of the word. The word ‘judge’ comes from the Greek word ‘Krino’. This word means to condemn, to separate, and to pick out. It’s always associated with final judgment or judgment without hope or possibility of change. When we judge others, we are making a definitive statement about that person. We extinguish all hope of change.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
The word translated here as condemn is the same word that is translated as “judge” in Matthew 7:1. Judgment is reserved for post-death, Hebrews 9:27. Only death separates us from the opportunity to change. Until then, no matter how guilty someone may be, there is hope.
Secondly, we are called to examine ourselves and other believers within the church. Philippians 2:12 says to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We are to carefully examine our thinking and actions to be certain we are living by the Spirit and not in the flesh. One of the differences between judgment and examination is intent. In this context, examination intends to see what is wrong and remedy the action with an appropriate biblical response.
Thirdly, we all have an “I” problem. Jesus points out that every person who judges has their own set of issues. Our issues distort our ability to see clearly.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
Only Jesus is fit to judge because He was tempted in every way but is without sin. He has no impartiality towards sin. He has no log in His eye. His perception is perfect, and He is full of mercy and grace.
We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by intention. When the Pharisees attempt to condemn the woman caught in adultery as irredeemable, Jesus informed them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
Fourthly, when we judge, we provoke judgment on ourselves. By remaining judgmentally silent about the sin of others, we don’t attract judgment on our behalf, allowing us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” You keep condemnation silent when you keep judgment to yourself. When you start pointing your finger at others, you become a target.
Jesus taught in Matthew 7:2, “with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” The word measure refers to grace, mercy, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, and love. The amount that you use will be used towards you.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,”
If you have found yourself in the habit of judging others, it’s time to take a deep look within and get to the root of the problem. Even the smallest judgment eliminates your will to “stir up one another to love and good works.” Be the kind of person who lifts up others around you to do and be their best!