Jesus’ Definition of Judging
Do not judge so that you will not be judged.—Matt. 7:1
One of the central messages of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to His followers is for them to be discerning and perceptive in what they believe and what they do. All Christians need to make every effort to judge between truth and falsehood, between the internal and the external, between reality and sham, and between true righteousness and false righteousness.
Every message we hear is to be judged for the soundness of its doctrine. Paul told the Galatians, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Gal. 1:8).
Not to rebuke sin is a form of hatred, not love. Refusing to warn a person about his sin is just as unloving as refusing to warn him about a serious disease he may have. The writer of Hebrews calls for a level of spiritual maturity wherein Christians “because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).
So in Matthew 7:1, Jesus is not telling us never to think or make value judgments. He is referring to the self-righteous,self seeking judgment and unmerciful condemnation of others practiced by the scribes and Pharisees. Their primary concern was not to help others from sin to holiness, but to condemn them to eternal judgment because of actions and attitudes that did not square with their own worldly, self-made traditions.
Jesus is referring to the judgment of motives that no human being can know of another—judgment of external form. What Jesus is forbidding is self-righteous, hasty, unmerciful, prejudiced, and unwarranted condemnation based on human standards and human understanding.