Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV)
Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with whatever measure you measure out, it shall be measured to you again. And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the splinter out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother’s eye. Do not give that which is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and tear you.
(Matthew 7:1-6 MKJV)
This passage of scripture occurs in both the discourse provided in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Yeshua spoke these words during the Sermon on the Mount which is also referred to as the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke. The Sermon on the Mount is the longest piece of teaching from Yeshua in the New Testament, and spans three chapters in the Gospel of Matthew. The Sermon has been one of the most widely quoted elements of the Canonical Gospels. To most believers in Yeshua, the Sermon on the Mount contains the central tenets of discipleship.
“Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1) is most often quoted by hypocrites to anyone who points out their transgressions or anyone who makes a stand against any form or manifestation of immorality and sin. This verse is quite easily the one most often taken out of context from the entire Holy Bible. However, if one reads the first six verses of the seventh chapter of Matthew, it is very obvious that when read in its entire context, this passage is referring to hypocritical judgments.
Hypocritical judgement is passing judgement on someone or something for which the person passing the judgement is actually guilty of themselves. Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, and principles that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others, therefore hypocrisy is also a form of lying.
This passage means the opposite of what hypocrites interpret it to mean. Yeshua is teaching that hypocrites need to remove the log out of their own eye so that they can see clearly to remove the splinter from the eye of their fellow believer. Obviously, the references to logs and splinters are metaphors for sins.
Does this mean we are allowed to pass judgement on others? Absolutely, but we should examine ourselves first to make sure that we are not passing judgement when we are not worthy to do so. As an example, if you donate money to a crisis pregnancy clinic that provides abortion services, you have absolutely no right judging a person for obtaining or performing an abortion. Afterall, you donate money to provide this service, therefore you are as guilty as the one obtaining or performing the abortion.
King David said, “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment (Psalms 37:30 KJV).”
The Apostle Paul is known to have rebuked the Corinthians for not passing judgement on one another. He said, “Do any of you dare, when you have a matter against another, to go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels, not to mention the things of this life? If, then, you truly have judgments of the things of this life, set those who are least esteemed in the church to judge. For I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise one among you, not even one in your midst who shall be able to judge between his brother? (1 Corinthians 6:1-5 MKJV)”
The Prophet Amos said, “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph (Amos 5:14-15 ESV).” It is quite impossible to hate evil and love good if someone refuses to judge any situation.
Clearly, the Bible teaches the importance of judging between morality and immorality in order to serve and honor God. To ignore this fact is to ignore all of the scriptures just presented, and also many other scriptures throughout the Bible. God expects us to pass judgement on others in regards to transgressions or manifestations of immorality and sin.
The Bible also tells us how we are to pass judgement on one another. God has given us a complete set of rules, and as long as we do not exceed these limitations, there is no sin in judging someone else unless we are hypocrites.
Yeshua said, “Do not judge according to sight, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24 MKJV).” Righteous judgement can only be achieved through the application of the Word of God. We must always follow God’s rules, guidelines and limitations that are found throughout the text of the Bible.
The Prophet Isaiah said, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20 KJV).” This tells us that our standard for judgement should always be the Word of God. Our personal or collective feelings, traditions and opinions have no place in guiding the judgement we pass upon others. Right and wrong should always be determined by the Word of God. So we are to always judge from a scriptural viewpoint.
If the Word of God is silent about a subject, it may not be necessary to pass any judgement on that subject at all. There is no need to pass judgment on any issue when the Bible says very little or nothing at all about it. The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Colossians said, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath (Colossians 2:16 ESV).” In other words, don’t make a mountain from a mole hill. If it is a trivial matter that is not essential to your relationship with God, then there is no reason to spread strife and discontent among believers over something that scripture is silent about.
We should always pray for God to give us guidance so that we have the wisdom and ability to pass judgement on others. James, the brother of Yeshua, in his epistle wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5 ESV).” King Solomon asked God, “Give Thy servant therefore an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this Thy great people?’
We should judge people fairly and never favor anyone. In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon wrote, “These also are sayings of the wise. To have respect of persons in judgment is not good (Proverbs 24:23 JPS).” A righteous judge is unaffected by any and all outside influence.
God has been extremely merciful to us by redeeming us with Yeshua’s blood. Therefore, we should have mercy on those that we are passsing judgement on. Yeshua said, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:2 ESV).” If our judgement is not merciful, God wil not judge us with mercy. However, if our judgement is merciful, God will have mercy on us when we are judged.
In the Apostle Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians he wrote, “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31 MKJV).” Remember that the sin in passing judgement occurs only when the judgement is rendered by a hypocrite. We should always examine ourselves to ensure that we are not passing hypocritical judgenent upon others.
The next time someone quotes, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” to you, remember that passing judgement on issues of morality is your responsibility and that this responsibility has been ordained by God. The hypocrite that just twisted scripture by quoting this verse out of context to you has probably just falsely accused you of passing hypocritical judgement on them, someone else or whatever the issue might have been. They have probably just broke Yeshua’s admonition regarding passing judgement and their twisted concept of this verse thereby making themselves the guilty party.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)