1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Do you know that a recent poll concluded that Matthew 7:1 is the most popularly quoted verse from the Bible today? Do not judge lest you be judged. Our culture really likes that verse. Taken alone, and taken out of context, it becomes the ultimate mantra of a tolerant, everything goes, nobody loses society. The implication is that we are never to confront anyone about anything.
That’s not what Jesus is saying.
Do not judge is referring to final judgment, becoming the prosecutor, jury, and judge on the value of someone else’s life or on their eternal destiny. Quite simply, we cannot judge someone else’s heart. That is God’s job alone.
Jesus has been focusing on the heart. We think we obey God’s law but we violate it in our hearts (5:17-48). We think we are doing righteous deeds but we are far away from God in our hearts (6:1-18). We think we love God but our hearts are attached to material things (6:19-24). We think we trust God but our hearts are loaded with worry about all the things that we must control (6:25-34).
What’s our first tendency when we hear all this? “You’re right, Jesus, tell them! That’s exactly what they need to hear! That’s what I have been trying to tell them for all these years! Go get ’em!”
We are masters at applying God’s Word…to other people.
In confronting the heart, Jesus is confronting me. I am to examine my own heart not try to judge the heart of others.
Paul echoes this theme in 1 Corinthians 4:5: Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. And in Romans 14:4: Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Jesus goes on to say…for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
This is a principle repeated several times in Scripture (Ps. 18:25-27, Matt 5:7, 6:14-15, James 2:13). In some way, God judges us with the same standard we use to judge other people. You know what our standard typically is for other people? Perfection. When it comes to how people treat us, we want perfection. We want them to say the right things at all the right times for all the right reasons. We want them never to offend us, never to hurt us, never to disrespect us, never to ignore us. We want them to encourage us, support us, help us, respect us, be there for us at exactly the point we need them.
Now, when I mess up, well, they should understand that I am having a bad day or that they are being too sensitive or they hurt me first. We are tolerant toward ourselves…critical of others. We want mercy and grace for ourselves…perfection and justice for others.
That’s Jesus’ point. He is continuing to expose the hypocrisy and pride of our own hearts.
Only when we have humbly recognized our own sin, seen our own brokenness, and cried out for God’s mercy for our own soul can we even begin to approach other people in the right spirit.
Lord, my heart is so critical of others. I want people to act exactly as I want them to act. I struggle to extend mercy and grace. Remind me of the destitute condition of my own soul. Remind me of the amazing overflow of Your grace. Remind me of the cross. And then empower me to love others as You have loved me.