What does “Judge not, that ye be not judged” mean?

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Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 5:1-5).
 
Jesus, here, refers mainly to judging another person’s motives, not to judging the right or wrong actions. God alone is fit to judge men’s motives, because of the fact that He alone is able to read men’s personal thoughts (Heb. 4:12). Looking therefore on men’s hearts, God loves the sinner but He hates the sin. Because people are only able to discern only the “outward appearance” (1 Sam. 16:7) they unavoidably make mistakes.
 
Jesus does not here refer to the reasonable sense of judgement by which the Christian is to differentiate between right and wrong (Rev. 3:18), but rather to the routine of disapproving and unjust criticism.
 
The measure we give will be the measure we receive, for unfairness leads to injustice. More than that, the injustice of one man toward his fellow men leads to divine judgment, as Jesus taught in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt. 18:23–35). We may condemn the crime, but, like God, we must ever be ready to pardon and forgive the criminal. We can extend compassion to the offender without excusing the evil he may have done.
 
Luke 6:41 reads “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?” The Bible offers enough light and truth to make each of us a righteous judge of behavior, even and particularly our own.
 
In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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