“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1)
At first, this sounds like an ominous warning to those who would presume to judge others. It is highly quoted, and I, myself have been the recipient of such a warning by well-meaning people responding to my posts.
If isolated from its context, it would indeed seem to silence any criticism aimed at someone else. But was that really the intent? Does it mean we’re not to show discernment of what is truthful and what is not?
Have conservative Christians used it to hide their heads when falsehood, hatred and cruelty stand right in front of them? Or have they lost their ability to discern truth from falsehood?
It has been said that our president “represents the least attractive and worst instincts” one can possess. Is that judging or a recognition of wrong?
I believe what Jesus was saying was not to judge others unfairly with a self-righteous attitude of superiority – recognizing that we all have sin in our lives. To do so, would indeed be hypocritical. This kind of judgment carries with it an element of condemnation, and no one is beyond redemption except by choice.
We as Christians, followers of Christ, have a divine obligation to stand up for what is truthful, but some have chosen to disregard that obligation for a quid pro quo (something for something).
So one must ask themselves this: “Do I really care about the things Christ cared about, or is it really all about my temporal needs?”
Later in this passage, Jesus tells us not to cast pearls before swine, which carries with it an element of discernment.
“Do not persist in offering what is sacred or of value to those who have no appreciation for it, because your gift will not only become contaminated and be despised, your generous efforts could also be rebuffed and perhaps even openly attacked.” (The Expository Files)
There is a right way to judge with discernment and a superficial way having to do more with appearance than substance.
“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).
Jesus tells us later in Matthew 12, that words reveal character, because words are spoken out of what fills the heart. So when judging someone by their words, are we judging by appearance? I tend to think not.
Let’s be true to the teachings of Christ and stop hiding under the cover of Matthew 7:1.