We Are Not to Judge Others

“We are not to judge others.”


For many Christians (and non-Christians) “judge not” is essentially another commandment, based on Matthew 7:1a: “Judge not lest you be judged”.  The result is that they look the other way in the face of real sin, and can themselves rationalize various sins.

Even more insidious is the double standard of many critics of Christianity, claiming that Christians are narrow-minded and always judging others, when in fact that is what they are doing themselves.  “You are bad people because you are always judging others” is a statement of judgment. 

Looking deeper, we discover that while there are instances in the Bible where judge means to condemn, the more common usage of the word “judge” in Greek is Krino”, which means “to divide, separate, make a distinction, come to a decision”.  With this definition, it is clear that all of us “judge” matters every day, which is essential for us to survive.  Now read the following passages with this definition in mind – to make a distinction. 

But there is more to this issue, starting with the full context of this passage:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.              Matthew 7:1-5

In this passage, Jesus is commanding us to not judge hypocritically.  He is not commanding us to never judge, but to remove the plank from our own eye (repent of our own sins first) so that we help our brother more effectively.

“But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”           I Corinthians 2:15

We are to judge all things (not people).  Abortion, theft, murder, etc. are things – actions and fruits that we are to judge.  To gain a more complete understanding of the Biblical perspective on judging, let’s look at additional passages:

“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”             Matthew 7:16-18

In this passage, Jesus distinguishes between good and bad fruit (behavior), and implies that we should do the same.  This requires judgment, as does the following passage:

“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?  If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?”                           I Corinthians 6:2-4

“How much more, things that pertain to this life?” covers all of our lives and our behavior.  There is a difference between mistakes and sin.  Mistakes are typically unintentional, while sin is intentional.  We may apologize for mistakes, but we need to repent of our sins.  And churches need to teach us the difference.  

“Only fools don’t judge.  Judging can keep you safe. Judging can keep you from making bad decisions. Judging can keep your butt out of hell.  What would Jesus do?  I’ll let you be the judge.”       Coach Dave Daubenmire, Newswithviews.com July 31, 2014