“Don’t judge me!” How often do you hear “Judge not!” when you condemn someone’s behavior? Maybe you have heard it so often that you no longer condemn anyone’s behavior to their face. Unbelievers of all kinds think they can shame you into disobeying your Lord by using his words against you. That’s because you don’t understand what his words mean. They know how to manipulate you.
The famous counter comes from the following verse:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 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.” (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)
People who use this, use it incorrectly. Christians don’t understand it because they don’t analyze it. Christ did not say “Never judge anyone for anything they’re doing because it’s wrong to do so. You’re a hypocrite if you do.” But that is the sense in which it is taken.
JUDGMENT IS INESCAPABLE
Christ was referring to Godly judgment. He went on to apply judgment in the very next verse by referring to people as figurative dogs and pigs. Was he being a hypocrite?
This is the thing to never forget: judgment is inescapable. Especially final judgment. Those who say “judge not” are trying to escape final judgment. They do not want to be reminded of their status as an unrepentant sinner before God. They claim to not know God, but they are suppressing the truth. (Rom. 1: 18) What can be known about God is made plain to them because God himself has shown it to them. They don’t want to submit, but they know the dangers of Hell in their heart of hearts.
They pretend that if they can escape judgment against their immoral behavior in this life that they can escape it in eternity.
They feel the heat. When Christians exercise Godly judgment upon unrepentant sinners, the sinners are brought face to face with the testimony of He who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea. The fool meets his maker and is given a chance to repent. If he doesn’t, he heaps more curses upon his head.
Moral judgments in this life remind us of the final judgment, looming and inevitable, executed by the Lord of Glory. You are here on earth, in this life, acting as his representative.
You cannot go through life without being judged, and you cannot go through life without judging. The key is to be a righteous judge. Judge righteously by using the only righteous standard there is: God’s law. (Deut. 4:8, Rom. 8:4) This is what Jesus means when he adds “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
We are all going to be judged by God’s righteous measure. That is what the sinner who cries about being judged understands.
Christians, having escaped the curse of the law by dying to it through the body of Christ [Rom. 7], may be less familiar with its heavy burden than he who is still living under it. The law reveals one’s sin and status as a sinner. For the unregenerate, this means eternity in Hell. For the Christian, the law provides a means of demonstrating our faithfulness and growing in maturity to bear good fruit.
So how can we obey Christ’s command properly?
Start by not being constantly critical. We should be wise in our judgments by using the law of Scripture as our guide. Paul gives us a brief list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Others are found in the case laws of Exodus (ch. 21-23) and Leviticus.
Be a tempered judge. Avoid self-righteous judgments that will make you revel in your superiority. Our judgments, like God’s, should be edifying to the Church. They should be intended to bring sinners to repentance. Hold others to the same standard that you hold yourself to — which should be God’s standard. Christ tells us how to correct a fellow believer in Matthew 18.
EYE AS MORAL CLARITY
In the Biblical language of symbolism, the “eye” is representative of one’s judgment. This is first illustrated in Genesis: God “saw” his creation and judged it good, first after each act of creation, and finally after finishing creation.
Clear vision means that someone is executing righteous judgment. A darkened vision or blurred sight indicates executing unrighteous, poor judgment. God told Adam and Eve that they weren’t to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, but after being persuaded by Satan Eve “saw” that the tree was good for food [Gen. 3:6]. This was an act of poor judgment on her part.
When God “saw” that the wickedness of man on the earth was great, he was really judging this wickedness to destruction. When Isaac tried to thwart God’s plan by stealing Jacob’s inheritance and giving it to Esau instead, “his eyes were dim so that he could not see.” [Gen. 27:1] He had bad judgment.
Having a plank in your eye means that your vision, your ability to judge righteously, is impaired by sin. Judgment is required and inescapable. Jesus himself goes on to judge some as dogs and pigs in the very next verse. Paul reminds us that we will judge the earth and angels, and as a result it is very important in this life how to learn how to be a proper judge. (1 Cor. 6:1-3)
We aren’t supposed to judge people by our own standards, but by God’s. Homosexuality is an abomination. Abortion is murder. Theft is wrong. Adultery is immoral. These aren’t relative opinions, they are truth because they come from the only standard there is: God’s.
Everyone else’s is a cheap imitation. If you succumb to humanistic pressure to “judge not” using God’s righteous standard of judgment, you are being disobedient to your Lord and Savior.
So don’t be afraid to bring the covenant lawsuit against a culture who has abandoned God. Go out there and give’m hell.