Matthew 7:1 says, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Ever since Jesus uttered these words, people have been misapplying and misunderstanding them. Often people get very defensive of their lives and yell, “Don’t you judge me! God says not to judge people!” Are they right? What did Jesus really mean when He spoke these famous words?
Let’s first understand what judgment is NOT. Let’s say I come across a person who is a known homosexual, or a murderer, or some other sin. I walk up to that person and say, “Look, I love and care for you, but it is wrong for you to continue living the way you are.” Have I just judged that person? No. The reason is because God has already clearly said in Scripture that these acts are sinful. In other words, God has already judged on these matters. So, if I tell someone they are wrong for engaging in some sin that God condemns, I have not judged them because God already did the judging. I simply became a mouthpiece for what God has judged against.
Let’s now look at what judgment really is. Let's say that I'm walking down the street and see two men walking towards me. They are both wearing clothes that are somewhat tight, very fashionable, with bright pink and purple colors. They both speak with higher pitch voices, lisps, and they flail their hands around a lot as they speaks. If I were to take these clues, maybe along with a couple of others, I might come to the judgment that these men are gay together. So, I say to them, “You are both wrong for living a homosexual lifestyle!” Have I just judged these men? Yes. The reason is because I do not actually know if they are gay or not. For all I know, they could both be married to wonderful women and have great families with children. At this point I have become guilty of Matthew 7:1.
The difference in the two situations is about knowing the facts. We need to do our best not to judge people when we don’t actually know what they are thinking, saying, or have done. Only once we know the truth and see what God has said on the topic can we make an accurate judgment.
So, let’s draw 2 conclusions about this. (1) When a person is caught in any kind of sin, is confronted about it, and responds with “Don’t judge me,” we have not judged them at all because God already has. Sometimes people respond this way because they don’t want to change their way of living. (2) When we assume something about a person and make a negative assessment about him or her without know the facts, we have crossed the line into judgment.
It’s hard not to be judgmental in our culture and is certainly something we need to strive to improve. Hopefully by knowing what judgment really is, we can seek to avoid and correct it in our lives.