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What does the phrase “judge not” mean?

“Judge Not”

The Lord in Matthew 7:1-5 declares, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

When Jesus told the believers not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling them not to judge hypocritically. What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others. Here, Jesus warns against judging someone else for his sin that the believers may be committing or even worse. That is the kind of judging Jesus commanded the believers not to do.

The Righteous Judgement

However, there is a righteous kind of judgment that the Christian is supposed to exercise—with careful discernment. The Bible teaches, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).  If a believer sees another believer sinning, it is his brotherly duty to lovingly lead the sinner to Christ. This is not judging, but rather pointing out the truth with compassion and inviting the person to repentance (James 5:20).

Jesus taught, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

The Christian is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). He should not wink at sin but rather “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). He is to “judge” sin but not the sinner.  A Christian is to gently lead the erring ones into God’s way (John 14:6).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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