Sometimes we misunderstand what the Bible really says. One of the most misquoted and misunderstood verses in the Bible pertains to passing judgment on others. It was addressed to people who seem to see easily the speck from a brother's eye while ignoring the plank or log in their own eyes.
I hear it quoted at times by friends and acquaintances. They say, “I don’t judge others.” Their reason for not passing judging on others is that they believe or think the Bible prohibits them from doing so.
But does the Bible really teach that we should avoid judging others? Did Jesus really say that judging others is wrong? Or is it possible that we have misunderstood the words of our Lord Jesus when He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1)?
I am privileged to learn from godly men whom I respect and who taught me wisdom from the Lord and from His word when I was a seminary student. I still learn from them.
A few years ago, my seminary professor, Dr. Peter Wallace, posted on his Facebook timeline a really helpful insight on the Lord’s words on judging others. Let me share his thoughts on this matter with you.
Here’s what he said: “You often hear people say, ‘Jesus says that we shouldn't judge’ -- and they use that as their reason for avoiding hard issues [e.g., abortion, homosexuality, etc.].
“But when Jesus says ‘Judge not, that you be not judged’ (Matthew 7:1), he goes on to say, ‘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’ (v. 5). The point is found in verse 2: ‘For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged.’ Jesus never tells us that we should never pass judgment on others. Rather, he warns that we will be judged by the same standard that we use in judging others.
“Of course, some reply by saying, ‘Well, then, I will never condemn anyone, because I don't want to be condemned!’ But, alas, that will not protect them. After all, in refusing to condemn the guilty, they are -- by implication -- condemning the innocent.
“As Jesus says in John 7:24, ‘Do not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgment.’ Those who say, ‘I refuse to judge’ have in fact passed judgment -- they have said, in effect, ‘not guilty.’ Jesus calls you to judge with right judgment. If you acquit the guilty and refuse to declare that sin is sin, then you are identified by Scripture as an oppressor of the innocent!”
I hope Dr. Wallace’s words on judging others are helpful in clarifying this often misunderstood verse of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:1. May God grant us wisdom and courage when we need to speak for or against something or someone!