Believers need to always be on guard against unfair judgment.
Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.”
Over the centuries, many believers have looked at Yeshua’s command to not judge others as an indication that believers should never be critical of others at all. However, to do so is a failure to continue in the context of the passage.
Matthew 7:2-3 – “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”
What Yeshua is illustrating is not a restriction on critical judgment, but on hypocritical judgment of others. What he was condemning was the practice, especially of the religious elite, to condemn others for the very things of which they themselves were guilty. The warning, of course, is that for those who do so, they will be judged by the same standards they use on others.
This is a common principle that is outlined in other areas of the Bible, as well. Paul writes about it to the Roman congregation:
Romans 2:1 – “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
In fact, the same principle operates on a larger level, and appears to be a law built into the very fabric of Creation itself. As an example, when the city of Jerusalem (representing Judea) was being chastised through the prophecies of Ezekiel, they were accused by God of becoming subject to the same condemnation that they had scorned Sodom for.
Ezekiel 16: 56-58 – “Did you not treat your sister Sodom as an object of scorn in the day of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered? Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom and all those around her, and by the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you. You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your abominations, declares Yahweh.”
Hypocrisy is a universal fault that applies to cities, tribes, and nations as well as individuals. Unfortunately, in our day and culture of instantaneous opinion-sharing we are ripe for this principle to be played out amongst ourselves. We form opinions based on half-truths and one-sided personal stories that get shared around through our social media platforms, and most times don’t even realize that we are doing so.
Instead, we should focus less on Matthew 7:1 and much more on Matthew 7:2, “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.”
We would do well to heed the advice of the apostle Paul and prioritize removing hindrances to the gospel of the kingdom through forgiveness and love. Having an attitude defaulting to forgiveness instead of judgment opens the door for allowing that we may not have all of the information to make a correctly informed decision. With this mindset in place, we can instead promote the positive actions that open doors to truth, understanding, and ultimately peace.
Romans 14:13, 19 – Therefore let us stop judging one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way … So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.
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