The last week I have seen at least 20 times people writing:
— Judge not, for you will be judged
— Judge not, for we are not to judge
— Judge not, for we must leave that to God.
— Judge not, for….. etc. etc.
It sounded every time very Biblical, but was it?
Does the Bible really tell us that we must not judge?
It became a pretty long story, but I wanted to show you all the verses that I know of, that are generally used to prove that we should not judge.
So let us start and let us see what the Bible really says.
In Matthew 7:1-5 we read:
¹Do not judge so that you will not be judged. ²For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
³Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? ⁴Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
⁵You 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 the words in Matthew 7:1-2 that say ¹”Do not judge so that you will not be judged. ²For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” is seen in the light of further verses warning us against hypocritical judgment. You could however say better save than sorry.
In Luke 6:36-38 we read something similar. You could see this as two cameras recording the same scene.
³⁶Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ³⁷”Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. ³⁸Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return”.
The words in verse 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged” warn us that if we judge, we must do so honest for we will be judged by standards we use in judgment. So here too you could say better save than sorry.
In Luke 12:56-57 we see Jesus saying to the crowds
⁵⁶You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time? ⁵⁷”And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?
In this verse we see Jesus blaming the people for not judging “why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?”
So it is expected from us to judge between wrong and right, so we will not go into the wrong direction.
¹⁷If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, WHETHER IT IS OF GOD or WHETHER I SPEAK FROM MYSELF. ¹⁸He who speaks from himself seeks HIS OWN GLORY; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
¹⁹”Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”
²⁰The crowd answered, “YOU HAVE A DEMON! Who seeks to kill You?”
²¹Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel.
²²For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and ON THE SABBATH you circumcise a man.
²³If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I MADE AN ENTIRE MAN WELL ON THE SABBATH? ²⁴Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Here Jesus did not say that people should not judge at all, but that their judgment must be righteous.
John 7:24 is also a verse that is misquoted often by mentioning only the first two words “judge not” while the whole verse reads “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge with righteous judgment”.
In Romans 2:1-3 we read:
¹Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; FOR YOU WHO JUDGE PRACTICE THE SAME THINGS. ²And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. ³But do you suppose this, O man, when you PASS JUDGMENT on those who practice such things, and DO THE SAME THINGS YOURSELF, that you will escape the JUDGMENT OF GOD?
Verse 1 is also often used as an excuse not to judge. And for many this means ‘not to judge at all’. But is this really what Paul meant to say?
Let us see.
The verse starts with a “therefore” and whenever there is a “therefore” there is a “wherefore” in front of it, so to understand this we also need to read the last verses of chapter 1. And see what are those SAME THINGS?
Let us read Romans 1:28-32 to find out. ²⁸And just as they did NOT see fit to ACKNOWLEDGE GOD any longer, GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A DEPRAVED MIND, to do those things which are NOT PROPER (see Romans 1:27), ²⁹being filled with all UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, WICKEDNESS, GREED, EVIL; FULL OF ENVY, MURDER, STRIFE, DECEIT, MALICE; THEY ARE GOSSIPS, ³⁰SLANDERERS, HATERS OF GOD, INSOLENT, ARROGANT, BOASTFUL, INVENTORS OF EVIL, DISOBEDIENT TO PARENTS, ³¹WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING, UNTRUSTWORTHY, UNLOVING, UNMERCIFUL; ³²and although THEY KNOW the ordinance of God, that those WHO PRACTICE SUCH THINGS ARE WORTHY OF DEATH, they NOT ONLY DO the same, but also give hearty APPROVAL TO THOSE WHO PRACTICE them.
THESE were the people Paul was addressing, and knowing this, the meaning of verse 1 and following verses becomes clear specially when he says: WHEREIN YOU JUDGE ANOTHER, YOU CONDEMN YOURSELF; FOR YOU WHO JUDGE DO THE SAME THINGS. (Romans 2:1)
An other verse that is used to tell you that you should not judge is Romans 14:13: “Let us not therefore judge one another any more”
Well let us see it in context. For that we read Romans 14:1-3,10,13-17. When we do we see it is about eating and looking down on brothers and sisters for eating or not eating. This ofcourse is not in the Spirit of Christ.
¹Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. ²One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. ³The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.
¹⁰But you, why do you JUDGE your brother? Or you again, why do you REGARD your brother WITH CONTEMPT? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
¹³Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an OBSTACLE or a STUMBLING BLOCK in a brother’s way. ¹⁴I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. ¹⁵For if because of food your brother is HURT, you are no longer walking according to LOVE. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. ¹⁶Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; ¹⁷for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The last verse I want to show concerning judging we find in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 we see Paul write: ²Do ye not know that the saints shall JUDGE THE WORLD? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye UNWORTHY to judge the smallest matters? ³Know ye not that we shall JUDGE ANGELS? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Paul wrote this because he did not want brothers to go to a worldly court to settle cases among them. As we know from verse 1.
¹Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the UNRIGHTEOUSNESS and not before the SAINTS?
summarizing we can say that the Bible does not teach us, not to judge at all, but when we do it must be a righteous judgment, and when we don’t really know it is better to keep our mouth shut.
If we would never judge we could also not have the attitude of the brethren in Berea who were mentioned to be more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, because they received the word with great eagerness, and examined the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)