In this day and age, it seems that those who like their “sins” also like Matthew 7:1, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” First, we must define what the word “judge” means. To judge is to “form an opinion or conclusion about”. When someone reminds them of what the Bible says concerning their sin, they are quick to pull that verse out and go on their merry way. What they don’t realize is that this verse is taken waaaaaaay out of context. When Jesus speaks these words, he’s not just referring to pointing out a person’s sins, but he’s also referring to someone judging another’s character at the expense of exalting their own self. The Pharisee’s were notorious for doing this. One Pharisee in particular is noted for saying as he was praying in the temple, “I thank you, Father, that I am not like this publican”, referring to the tax collector next to him who went in to pray and humbly cast himself down, beat his chest and said, “Please, God, have mercy on me, a sinner!!” Well, he was right. He was NOT like that tax collector. That tax collector was humble and repentant. The Pharisee was arrogant and prideful…..and to think he was thanking God for that!! But, here is where the problem lies. The people who just LOVE to throw out that verse to justify their behavior, stop at that verse and don’t go any further.
In the verses following (vss. 3-4), it talks about how we cannot go about taking a speck from someone’s eye when we have a log in our own eye. People like to use that verse, too, but they stop right there and don’t go any further. In verse 5, Jesus says that we are to first take the log out of our eye THEN we can see to take the speck out of our brother’s eye. In other words, we must first work on our own selves and get our issues straightened out, THEN we can take our experience and help our fellow believers with theirs. So, in reality, Jesus IS telling us to judge but we can’t do it in a hypocritical manner. We have to get ourselves right with God first before we can go to someone else and help them with their issue.
John 7:24, Jesus tells us “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with a righteous judgment”. So, here we see that Jesus IS telling us to judge. But we can’t do so with hypocrisy, arrogance, and pride. We all use judgment everyday. We may see a guy in filthy clothes walking down the road and we may think, “He’s homeless”, when in reality he works at a local foundry and he walks to and from work instead of driving. Or we see some lady in the grocery store dressed in nice clothes, wearing expensive looking jewelry, and driving a Jaguar, and she’s using food stamps to buy food. Our first thought would be, “How dare she buy her food with food stamps when she clearly looks like she has the money to afford it.” What we may not know is that she has an elderly neighbor who is home bound and is on food stamps and she is helping her neighbor by buying her groceries for her. Every single one of us has looked at the actions and appearances of someone and made a judgment call based on those two things. Sometimes our judgments are wrong but sometimes they’re right and even have saved our lives because it kept us out of dangerous situations.
The reality of this is, Jesus NEVER said do not judge AT ALL. But what he did say was that we are to judge and we are to do so in a right manner. If God had intended for no one’s sins to be pointed out, then He wouldn’t have intended for there to be preachers/teachers/evangelists. Preachers (if they’re doing what they’re supposed to) stand in the pulpit each week and speak on sin. When people use that verse, they’re doing so to justify their behavior because they have no intention of changing it.