We have seen in the previous two posts on this verse what it does not mean—namely, that it does not mean a Christian is forbidden from judging. We’ve seen that in the immediate context it does not mean that a Christian cannot judge. Further, the larger context of scripture shows that it doesn’t mean that a Christian is forbidden from judging. So, we have established from scripture beyond the shadow of a doubt what this verse does not mean. Therefore, since it does not mean we are categorically forbidden from judging ever, but it does say “Do not judge” we are left with the question “What kind of judging is it talking about?”
The kinds of judging that we saw in the previous two posts (Matthew 7:3-6, Matthew 7:16, I Corinthians 5:3, 5, 9-12) have something in common. They all involve a Christian judging using biblical criteria. Those who pronounced religious judgments during the time when Christ walked the earth did so using their own doctrines, not scripture. That is why they could say “Well, yeah sure, I’ve never committed adultery” but they had lusted after a woman in their heart. That was the criteria they used—man made, powerless, hypocritical, easily manipulated measuring sticks that they could measure up to very easily but suddenly use to make other people feel very small because they weren’t as good as the Pharisee’s were. However, as the scriptures above indicate, when we judge we are to use God’s standard—not ours. We are to use the scriptures as the criteria by which we determine if something is sinful or if someone is committing sin. Then, just like a doctor would diagnose a patient, we are to loving call fellow Christians to repent of their sins and call unbelievers to repent of their sins and trust Christ. Sin is a spiritual cancer and we are commanded to share the truth of what scripture says about it. However, we must never judge with a hypocritical, unbiblical standard as the religious leaders of the day did. That is the kind of judging that is being prohibited.
We can see that Jesus had this kind of judging in mind when He says “so that you will not be judged”. The purpose, then, of abstaining from a hypocritical type of judging is that we avoid that kind of judgment from men. The world is very quick to point fingers at the church and accuse of us being narrow minded, prejudiced, and uncaring. May I suggest to you that one reason the world is so quick to judge us is because some in the church have lived contrary to their professed faith but have been very vocal in calling the world to account for its sin. The sad fact is, brothers and sisters, we have judged not with the Bible but too often with our own standards. We must lovingly confront sin where we find it, be it in the church or in the world, but we must always be mindful that if we want to avoid being judged in a harsh and unjust manner we must be willing to judge using the standard God has given—His word.