“Judge Not, that You Be Not Judged." - Jesse Dornfeld
Matt. 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged." What a perplexing statement from the words of Jesus. Did not Jesus condemn, even to hell, some people he engaged with? Matt. 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves." How can we makes sense of Jesus words about judging? Well, I think the mistake that people make with Matthew 7:1 is that they stop there and don't read the next verse. The complete thought that Jesus gives is this, found in Matthew 7:1, 2 Matt. 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." So Jesus is not saying not to judge at all, but rather, Jesus is saying to the degree to which you judge, judgement will come upon you. But based on Matthew 23:13-15, we see Jesus gives a judgement on the pharisees and religious leaders. How is Jesus able to do this? And is he contradicting Himself? No, Jesus is not contradicting Himself. Jesus is expressing in Matthew 7:1,2 to not be flippant with what you say and do. That should be a main meaning of what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is basically saying, "Be careful what you do. Do not be flippant in pronouncing condemnation on people because if you condemn people falsely, you will be judged in the manner you judge." I say this because Jesus says "With the judgement you pronounce you will be judged."
Jesus gives us a valuable principle in how we should live in terms of our orientation toward other people here: Matt. 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." Again, Jesus here is not saying to be a door mat. But instead he is saying "Be careful how you treat people because you will be held accountable for how to treat people including your enemies." Jesus is not saying not to set boundaries with anyone and to just let people walk all over you. Rather, he is saying to err on the side of caution and love for your neighbor rather than to err on the side on paying back evil for evil. Jesus illustrates this for us very very clearly when he pronounces judgement on the Pharisees here: Matt. 9:10 "And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” In conclusion, if you feel you are in the right to pronounce judgement upon a person, make sure you are not in the same sort of error as that person. If you have a condemning word for someone, do not take lightly your own sin. Do not be so indignant as to ignore your own failings as a sinner before you condemn someone else. But instead lead with love. If you have the mindset to be slow to condemn others and to err on the side of caution rather than criticism, you will be a wise person. Never forget that Christ died for us while we were still sinning against Him. For by mercy we are saved, and not through the condemnation we pronounce on others that we are righteous.
Read more from Jesses Dornfeld on his blog: Old Things Pass Away All Becomes New