I once read an article that stated the most popular verse in the Bible used to be John 3:16. Then it explained that the new most popular verse was “Do not judge.” I do not remember where I read it or who was the author, but it has lodged itself in my brain for a long time now.
Three things bothered me about the article.
One – I wonder how many people even know where the verse that says “Do not judge” is found? (It is in Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37)
Two – How exactly do you measure this study to see if it is true? I believe the article did a bunch of internet searches but that would only give you a limited window. Most of the information had to be based on personal experience and assumptions.
Three – The Bible says a lot about judgment and this is only one verse. There is actually a great deal we need to know about Biblical judgment.
1. Christians are not to offer eternal judgment.
Judgment belongs to the Lord. One day he will judge the living and the dead. Numerous verses underline this truth to us. It is not our job to condemn anyone to hell or to commend anyone to heaven. God is the judge and everyone needs his grace.
2. Christians can make judgments about another Christian’s ungodly behavior.
The Apostle Paul writes this in 1 Corinthians 5:12 (NIV) “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” The context is about a man living in sexual immorality. The Church was not to tolerate this ungodly behavior but to point it out so the man might change.
3. Christian judgement runs both ways.
The passage that follows Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, lest you be judged” says, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” After that, Jesus gives an analogy of removing the log out of our own eye before helping to remove the speck out of someone else’s eye.
I believe Jesus wants us to understand the hypocrisy of judging someone about an issue when we have a bigger problem with the same issue. But, if we have that problem under control then we are to help someone else with their struggles. I must first fix my own issues before I can help other people.
4. Christian judgment is purely for spiritual growth.
The reason I might point out another Christians flaws is not to make me feel superior or to make them feel like a failure. My goal is not to expose them to public humiliation. My only goal in pointing out someone else’s struggle is so that they will address it and grow in their faith.
Be clear, I am not advocating anyone go around with a sense of superiority to others pointing out all their sins. I am saying that Christians need to help each other by offering grace-filled judgments of the sins in other people’s lives. If you know I am at fault, in Jesus name, please let me know so that I can fix it.
I know when most people quote this verse it is because they do not want you to look into their lives too deeply. The verse actually means the opposite. Christians should be looking in the mirror at their own spiritual issues and helping others to do the same. I say, “Judge me, so that I can be more like Christ.”