One of the most misunderstood scriptures in relation to the topic of judging is Matthew 7:1-2 where Jesus says: “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.”
So does Matthew 7:1-2 really mean that Christians are not supposed to judge at all?
Suppose a person is living a sinful lifestyle? Or suppose a person is misleading others with false teachings? Are Christians allowed to make judgments? Are Christians allowed to express their views of what’s right and what’s wrong?
When this scripture is taken in the proper context, Jesus is not saying that Christians are forbidden from judging or making judgments about specific issues.
Instead in Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus is teaching us HOW to judge.
For example, if John is an adulterer and he discovers that Peter is also committing adultery – John cannot judge, counsel or correct Peter for committing adultery because John is also committing the exact same sin.
Another example would be: suppose you are a drug addict and your friend is also a drug addict – you cannot counsel or correct your friend about his drug addiction problem when you are also committing the very same sin in your own life.
Therefore Jesus says that this kind of judgment is hypocritical because if you and the person you are judging are committing the same sin then you will obviously face the same measure of judgment.
Therefore in the proper context when we read the entire passage on judging which is Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus continues and says: “… 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? 4 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? 5 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.”
So a person who for example is committing adultery, needs to first stop and repent of his adulterous lifestyle before he can counsel or rebuke another person who is living in adultery.
Or the drug addict must first overcome his own drug addiction before he can rebuke or counsel another drug addict.
This is why Jesus tells us to take the log out of our own eye FIRST before we can take the speck out of our brother’s eye.
So the truth is – God does not forbid Christians from making judgments. In fact, God ENCOURAGES people to make good judgments.
In John 7:24 Jesus says: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
In 1 John 4:1 it says: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says: “Test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.”
Without the God given right to test everything, we will not have the ability to judge between good and evil. The fact that God wants us to test everything means that God desires that we make the right judgments in our lives and in any situation. In fact, in everyday life, whether Christian or non-Christian, we are persuaded to discern, judge and decide many things during the day.
Therefore Christians are encouraged to exercise discernment and make good judgments. We are encouraged to discern between good and evil. We are encouraged by God to discern between genuine preachers and false teachers. We are encouraged by God to discern between right and wrong.
Discernment requires that we make the right judgment and all judgments must be based on God’s infallible word.
The Bible does not encourage us to always have a critical spirit or a spirit of judgmentalism as this leads to pride and a self-righteous mentality. The Bible does not encourage us to judge hypocritically.
Instead as Christians we are to judge all things with love, humility and in light of God’s word.
Therefore God does not forbid Christians from judging – rather He tells us HOW to judge.