When Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged,” was He implying that we should regard everyone’s viewpoint equally?
Based on Jesus’ own actions, we can be sure He didn’t mean we should ignore and tolerate evil. Jesus wasn’t passively tolerant toward people who were doing evil things and promoting evil values. He often made judgments regarding their actions and confronted them ( Matthew 21:13; 23:13-36 ; John 6:70-71; 8:39-47 ).
Jesus taught in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets who consistently confronted evil—even at the risk of their lives1 ( 2 Samuel 12:1-12 ; 1 Kings 18:18 ). Like the prophets, Jesus illustrated that love is sometimes expressed through confrontation. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we must at times be as willing to compassionately confront evil and self-destructiveness in their character as we are in our own. A father who gives his children anything they want spoils them. Likewise, our heavenly Father would ruin us if He set no limits for us and indulged our every whim. Love for our neighbor involves the same principle. There are occasions when God requires us to confront serious error and sin.
When we confront sin in the right spirit, we are acting in love, not judging in the sense of Jesus’ words in this verse. When motivated by love, we won’t be self-righteous and feel that we are better in the eyes of God. A loving heart is humble, knowing that before a holy God all people are equal ( Romans 3:9,23 ;Galatians 3:22 ; 1 John 1:8 ).
Judging, as Jesus condemned it in these verses, is unforgiving condemnation—a hypercritical, self-righteous, vindictive spirit that continually seeks to uncover the faults of others while overlooking one’s own sins.2
Jesus’ warning against this kind of judging emphasizes that any measure we use to judge other people will be used against us. He said, “For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” ( Luke 6:38 ). Jesus teachings elsewhere ( Matthew 6:14-15; 18:23-35 ) made it clear that self-righteous, unforgiving people will not be forgiven by God. Their rigid, unforgiving hearts demonstrate that they aren’t the children of God ( 1 John 3:14-15 ). Their refusal to forgive others demonstrates that they have never experienced the purifying power of the Holy Spirit in their own life.
Personal experience illustrates the truth of Jesus’ words. When we judge other people self-righteously and vindictively, they will respond to us in the same way. In contrast, if we are patient and compassionate, the people in our lives tend to overlook our minor failures and flaws.
More subtle, but no less damaging, is the internal effect of an unforgiving, judgmental spirit. Since we naturally project our own attitude upon others, judgmental people usually assume that other people are as vindictive and judgmental as they. This puts them under the crushing pressure of living up to their own harsh, unforgiving expectations.
Jesus’ words in this verse don’t require us to be passive in the face of evil. They require us to confront it in the spirit of compassion, humility, and love.
- In fact, Jesus specifically identified Himself with the Old Testament prophets and told His enemies that they hated Him for the same reason that their fathers hated and killed the prophets ( Matthew 23:29-37 ).Back To Article
- Jesus made this clear a few verses later when He said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye” Or how can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,” when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye ( Luke 6:41-42 ). Back To Article