Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of August 20, 2006

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

I believe that one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:1. How many times have we been told that we should not judge lest we be judged? How does that square with the rest of the Bible that tells us to judge certain things in certain situations? For example:

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
1 Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
1Corinthias 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

We have to apply Scriptural principles in order to make proper judgments as we go through life. We have to distinguish between right and wrong and there are some things that people do that we are supposed to condemn. Sometimes elders of churches have to make Scriptural judgments with regard to sinning believers that may require some kind of discipline or even excommunication from the church. We have to discern or judge whether the teaching that we are getting is Scriptural. We cannot avoid the unequal yokes of 2 Corinthians 6:14 without somehow discerning who is saved and who is not. So what is the Lord saying in Mathew 7:1?

I believe that the passage does not tell us not to judge at all but it is telling us not to judge hypocritically. The next verse says that the standard that we set for others is the standard that will be set for us. So when David told Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:5 that the man who had taken the poor man’s lamb should die, he was condemning himself. He had taken another man’s wife and had killed her husband. He was judging hypocritically. Fortunately, the Lord had mercy on David and said in verse 13, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

So in the context, the Lord is not prohibiting judging or discerning right from wrong. He is not saying that we should overlook sin But he is saying that when we judge we should not be hypocrites. Most of us think that our sins are not as bad as our neighbors sins and so we can be rather hard on things that we are not tempted to do.

One thing I have learned is that all of us have feet of clay and at times it shows. A Christian, though, has a new nature through the new birth. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). As a result, we should have a conscience about sin; and when we commit sin, it should bother us. Because we each have our own weaknesses, we need to make sure that when we judge others by pointing out their failures and sins that we don’t end up condemning ourselves. The standard we use to judge others is the standard that the Lord will use to judge us.

Bruce Collins

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