In sharing my faith or the principles of my faith with others, I have found that one of the favorite verses often used when I point out a moral absolute the Bible outlines is Matthew 7:1. In that verse, Jesus says not to judge so we would not be judged. If you listen to commentary or discussion on this verse, it would leave some people to think that this was the Bible’s final word on the subject when it is not. A person can learn a great deal about what Jesus actually meant if they read on rather than just stopping at verse one. He goes on to describe in verses two and three that the way you judge is how you will be judged in return. Then in verses four and five,He contradicts the way verse one is often interpreted. Notice Jesus does not tell His followers to ignore or refuse to remove the log or plank in a brother’s eye. He tells His followers to remove the speck from their own eyes so they can see clearly to remove the speck from his brother’s eye. Therefore, when Jesus says in Matthew 7:1 not to judge, He goes on to explain that this condemns a certain type of judging, hypocritical and uninformed judgment. This same type of unrighteous judging is mentioned in Romans 7:1-3, 14:1-4, 14:10-13, and 1 Corinthians 14:5.
For example, if an unrepentant thief who stole $20 condemns a corrupt government official who steals hundreds of thousands of dollars, that would be a hypocritical judgment. Likewise, a person who accuses someone of wrongdoing without having all the facts would be guilty of the kind of judgment spoken about in Matthew 7:1-5. Furthermore support for this view can be found in Matthew 7:6 where Jesus says not to give what is holy to dogs or cast pearls before swine. One must be able to understand how to judge correctly to be able to discern a “dog” or “swine” when they find one. Then later on in verses 15-20, Jesus differentiates between true prophets who bear good fruit and false prophets who bear bad fruit. You have to make judgments based on a perfect, unchanging standard in order to be able to tell good fruit from bad fruit and the true prophet from the false.
People have to make judgments every day. We would not be able to live or function safely if we didn’t. We all have a basis for right and wrong. Even atheists who have no verbally expressed religious belief make moral judgments every day. Parents make judgments about what and who is good for their children to be around. People in management positions make decisions on who to fire, who to hire, and so on based on judgments about people. So how does someone judge correctly if God does not condemn all judgments. We even have a court system with–(yes, you guessed it)–judges who make determinations based on law.
So the issue is not whether or not it is right to judge. It is how to make the best judgments. Fortunately, God does not leave us in the dark. He has given His divinely-inspired instructions for living (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Now all we must do is follow those instructions, (Matthew 7:20-21), teach others to do the same (Matthew 28:19-20), and humbly correct others in love when they are in error (Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; Ephesians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 6:20-21).