1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1–2, NKJV)
This is not an unqualified indictment and prohibition of all judgment. Jesus would later expose those who judged Him by appearance by urging them to use “righteous judgment” instead (John 7:24). On another occasion Jesus rebuked as hypocrites those who judged weather signs but would not discern that the Messiah was among them. He said, “Yes, and why, even of yourselves, you do not judge what is right?” (Lk. 12:56-57). Today’s passage warns us not to be hypocritical in our judgments of others. Too easily we succumb to the temptation to condemn others while failing (refusing) to see similar (and other) sins in ourselves (Rom. 2:1-2, 21-24). “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3). By first removing our “plank” (sin) we are able to empathetically and more precisely help our brother remove the speck (sin) from his life. By this we become better adept at avoiding harsh, hurtful, and harmful judgments of one who struggles with or have been overtaken by sin. Truth, wisdom, impartiality, mercy, and gentleness are among the qualities that enable us to judge righteously (Jas. 3:17-18; Gal. 6:1). And, surely these are the qualities by which we want to be judged (aren’t they)?
1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.” (Romans 2:1–2, NKJV)
The fear of being labeled “judgmental” can keep us from judging with “righteous judgment” (Jno. 7:24). It is true that we must be very careful and accurate in the judgments we make. Jesus’ warning to “judge not, that you be not judged” is understood by His explanation that how we judge will be the measure of our own judgment: “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt. 7:1-2). By doing so, He exposed the sin of hypocritical judgment (Matt. 7:5). Today’s passage is a clear condemnation of holding others to moral and religious standards to which we refuse to hold ourselves. The Jews were “inexcusable” to condemn the Gentiles while practicing the same sins (Rom. 2:17-24). Christians who condemn the sins of others while committing the same sins are hypocrites, and will not escape God’s judgment of truth. “And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Rom. 2:3). God’s judgments are “true and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). We can help others follow God’s judgments by holding ourselves to His judgments of truth (Matt. 7:3-5; Gal. 6:1-2). When we don’t we run the real danger of hindering the salvation of others (Matt. 18:6-7; Rom. 2:21-24).