We live in such an interesting point in time, don’t we? On the one hand, we’re encouraged to rate and review everything—our favorite restaurants, businesses, workouts, books, podcasts, shows, and even professors and doctors! In fact, not only are we encouraged, but we’re even incentivized to do so! But at the same time, we’re also drowning in criticism, contempt, and a wildfire of seemingly knee-jerk reactions and poorly thought-out opinions to tweets, rumors, and news articles—both real and fake.
Hmm…I wonder if there’s a connection?
When Jesus said, “Do not judge so that you won’t be judged,” was this what he was referring to? Was he warning us about the perils of five-star ratings, and industries built upon crowdsourcing reviews? Or was he perhaps talking about all of the subtle—and also overt—ways that we pass judgment onto others? Like, “I can’t believe they parked like that! How inconsiderate.” Or, “What a show off. What is he trying to prove posting that on the internet?”
I believe it’s the latter! When Jesus said “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged,” he’s referring to all of the ways that we judge others through our thoughts, our ensuing facial reactions, or the words that come out of our mouths. He’s talking about the tendency that we have to often criticize, condemn, find fault with, or think that we’re higher or better than others—especially when we’re “hangry” or tired.
Let’s take a look at the whole passage,
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a beam of wood in your own eye? Hypocrite! First, take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 CSB)
Now after reading this, it’s completely reasonable to think to yourself, “Alright so…to help me not judge, I’m just going to keep my head down and turn a blind eye to everything!”
Note that I said “reasonable to think to yourself,” and not “reasonable to do.” Going to an extreme like this is not the way to live out Jesus’ command to “Judge not.”
I love how the theologian and pastor, John Stott, explains this passage,
To sum up, the command to judge not is not a requirement to be blind, but rather a plea to be generous. Jesus does not tell us to cease to be men (by suspending our critical powers which help to distinguish us from animals) but to renounce the presumptuous ambition to be God (by setting ourselves up as judges).1
- Asking someone to “suspend all judgment” is like asking someone to stop being human! We are always going to have thoughts and opinions about others, so Jesus isn’t saying here to stop being human. He’s saying, “Stop thinking and acting like you’re God!”
Oh, how we often fall into this trap! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve caught myself—mid-sentence—yelling at my kids to stop yelling at each other. When we judge others like this, we’re hypocrites. We’re near-sighted hypocrites who don’t realize that we’re pointing out the splinter in another’s eye, while we have a beam of wood in ours!
So the next time you find yourself tempted to pass judgment on another person, what do you think would happen if you paused and first asked yourself, “When have I been guilty of this myself?” And then went to the cross and spent time in prayer for yourself and for the other person, instead of judgment?
Friends, let’s judge not!