What Jesus Said: Don’t Judge

“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.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

This might be one of the most often quoted verses in the New Testament by people who don’t often read the New Testament. We’re dropping in on the middle of Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount” this week, kicking off with a verse many of us have attempted to use like a “get out of jail free” card when we’ve been caught in sin.

whatjesus_350“Hey! You’re not supposed to judge me for killing kittens! Jesus said so! What is wrong with you? Don’t you ever read your own Bible? Now leave me alone; I’ve got a lot of kittens to get through before supper time.” It goes something like that.

Of course, if you read on to the next verse, Jesus is not saying we should never have an opinion about what is right and wrong – or even that we should not lovingly correct each other. He does seem to be saying one of two things. One: It is God’s job to be the judge, not yours. If you try to do his job, you’ll receive from him the same judgement that you try to pronounce on others.

Or, two, he might be making a wisdom statement about human nature: We all tend to feel and act judgmentally toward people who are judging us. And we tend to give more grace toward those who show us grace and mercy. Either way: If you don’t want to be judged, don’t volunteer to judge others.

Think: Why do we sometimes feel so compelled to judge people who are obviously doing something wrong? How do you decide when it is right to confront a friend about sin and when it is right not to?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to wrongfully judge others and for the wisdom to know when it is right to offer loving and helpful correction to a friend or family member who is sinning.

Do: Think about this verse in light of what you read in James 5:19-20.