Our culture prides itself in tolerance and considers being judgmental taboo.
The meaning of tolerance has evolved from “agreeing to disagree” respectfully, to mean that if you don’t accept and agree with a certain position, you are wrong and ousted as a ‘bigot’ or ‘hater.’
The Bible is not usually quoted in these discussions, but one verse that will surely pop up more often is Matthew 7:1, in which Jesus says,
“Judge not, lest you be judged.”
People who quote this verse often wield it as a trump card against judgment or discernment of any kind. It is seen a dagger to kill and demean whatever opposes their personal point of view.
“You say _________ is wrong?? Didn’t Jesus say ‘judge not?!’ You are a bigot and hater!”
Arguing in such a way is self-defeating, and here’s why:
Many people who quote Jesus saying, “Judge not, lest you be judged…” use it to judge others for judging.
That can’t be what Jesus had in mind in the Sermon on the Mount.
Other passages in the Bible clearly show that one cannot make the blanket statement, “you should never judge.”
God calls us to “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24; Proverbs 31:9), judge and avoid false teachers (Romans 16:17-18; 2 Timothy 3:1-10), “test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and judge those inside the church (1 Corinthians 5:11).
Truth matters and needs to be rightly discerned.
Many of the people who quote Matthew 7:1 care neither for the rest of Scripture’s content on proper discernment nor care to quote other sayings of Jesus like Mark 8:34, Matthew 5:27-30, or John 14:6.
They know that nobody wants to argue against Jesus, and if someone falls into their trap, they can then call them names like “bigot,” “hatemonger,” or “intolerant.”
This certainly does not mean that Christians have liberty to judge in a hateful and bigoted way, which happens all too often. Don’t be like the Westboro Baptist Church, but rather speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
The issue therefore is not if we should judge, but rather the right manner in which we are to judge.
Matthew 7:2-5 clearly explains that the type of judging that Jesus condemns is a hypocritical and self-righteous judgment.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
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.
Instead of condemning all types of judging, we should condemn hypocritical and self-righteous judgments. This type of judging is often exactly what those who quote Matthew 7:1 are guilty of.
The next time you hear “judge not” from someone opposing Scriptural truth, don’t let their Scripture twisting silence you; but rather ask them this question:
Are you judging me for judging?