One of my favorite passages contains one of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the whole Bible, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” This passage from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7 has been used by some to say that no one ever has the right to speak truth, care or concern into another’s life. But is Jesus saying that? Is He saying that we should never share honest cares and concerns with others about their actions and behaviors? I don’t believe that is the case at all. In this verse and the passage that follows, Christ is instructing His followers about the way we are to think about, interact with and treat others.
A full reading of the passage reveals that Christ was addressing a self-righteousness and holier than thou type of attitude prevalent among the religious leaders of that day. Sadly, it is a type of attitude that has been prevalent in many days, including ours. Such an attitude leads to mocking and putting others down rather than ministering to them and picking them up. And ministering to others and picking them up in a spirit of love and truth is what the Lord would have His followers to do. This requires discernment and the sharing of honest, valid cares and concerns. This requires making distinctions between that which is healthy and that which is unhealthy, between that which is helpful and that which is not helpful. With that in mind, Christ tells His followers that we are to be humble and examine our own lives first. We are to remove the logs from our own eyes so that we can see clearly to help our brother with the speck which may be in his. When we judge, we are to judge rightly. That includes the right time, the right place, the right motivation and the right spirit. To “judge” in any other manner makes one a hypocrite.
Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why 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? 4 “Or 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? 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.