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“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
This verse is perhaps one of the most quoted and misused verses in the Bible. It is misused by Christians and unbelievers alike who do not want their sins exposed. When this verse is taken in context, we see that Jesus was not forbidding the judgment of others, but was forbidding hypocritical judgment. Our judgment should not be out of maliciousness, anger, or hypocrisy, but based on discernment of the facts. This is why Jesus said elsewhere to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24). Judgment that is superficial, that is, judgment that is based on appearances or without knowing all the facts is wrong. Judgment that is based on hypocrisy, that is, pointing out the sins of others while we, ourselves are guilty of the same sins is also wrong. Judgment that is out of self-righteousness, that is, judgment based on a superior or holier than thou attitude is also wrong (see Luke 18:9-14). We need to remember that the criteria upon which we judge others will be the same criteria upon which we will be judged (Matthew 7:2). We are not to judge unfairly or unrighteously, but with right judgment. Right judgment is from a humble and merciful attitude with discernment of the facts.
We as Christians are often accused of being judgmental or intolerant when speaking out against sin, but speaking out against sin is not wrong. Upholding God’s standards of righteousness is not wrong. As Christians, we are to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and that includes what God’s Word says about sin (2 Timothy 4:2).
Rev. Jack Howell