If there is one Bible verse that is known by both Christians and non-Christians alike, it is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” These words from Jesus Christ himself are often used by people against anyone who they perceive is being critical of their words or behavior. Often the people using this text are those who are terrified at the idea of someone preaching against or pointing out any form of error in themselves.
But did Jesus really gave this commandment for this purpose? Are Christians really not supposed to judge others? To see for yourself, read the entire text of Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
As I see it the text is not a call not to judge, but a call to be careful and judge properly–which means to look at ourselves and examine our own sins first. Jesus certainly did not mean that we let others continue sinning. As a matter of fact, He gave us a good guide on how to help others realize their sins in Matthew 18:15-17, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
For more interesting thoughts on this subject, read this post: “A Pure Heart Create For Me, O God.”