Do not judge…. this is not my favorite part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It is one of the most misused and misquoted passages in the Bible. People often like to use it as a “Get out of jail free” card. It’s the rebuttal of many arguments, and ironically, many times the people who are quoting Jesus’ words are not even followers of Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus said it and it is worth looking into exactly what he meant.
Matthew 7:1-6 ~ Do not judge
There is much in this passage to digest, including the last verse which talks about how we should not judge non-believers with the same holiness as believers, but I will stay with the most common reference for now.
When I die and meet God face-to-face for the first time, God will not be comparing me to anyone or anything else, not even to other good Christians I may have modeled my life after. Nor will God say, “At least you aren’t as bad as that other person over there.” There is nothing in the Old or New Testament that supports this thinking. No, the only thing God will be interested in is what I did. How did I act toward that person (my judgment), and the only comparison will be to the perfect one, Jesus Christ. It’s just one-on-one. It will make you think differently.
Another way to look at it is this. If I am in a jail cell awaiting my sentence, my judgment will not be determined by the crime of the person who happens to be sitting in the cell next to me. I can judge that person all I want, and I may be right about their crime and punishment, but it has nothing to do with my own.
If I am really honest with myself, I know of many things in my own life I have done wrong, or could improve upon, before I begin to look at others. Jesus is not condoning sin in this passage, and He is not dismissing any judgment from God, but He is warning us about our own humility. So the next time I am apt to judge, or criticize, or even compare, I will look at myself first, and that is probably enough to resist the urge to say more.