Don't Say That
In this age of tolerance, you’ve probably been confronted with this popular and frequently misinterpreted verse from scripture: “judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1). It has become a popular mantra of many professing Christians and non-believers alike. In an attempt to deflect the uncomfortable responsibility for their sins and inevitably the need to repent of such, this verse has been twisted and manipulated to say and mean what it does not.
For example, it has been said this verse means that we should never judge anyone or call anyone out for sin and wrongdoing. This interpretation, however, is not correct. Let’s take a look at why.
Briefly, to quote John MacArthur writing for Ligonier:
John 7:24, Jesus tells His disciples to make discerning judgments: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Indeed, taken in context, even Matthew 7:1 turns out to be a call for charity, generosity, and merciful restraint at those times when we must judge: “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (v. 2).
Another example, from the same article:
Then our Lord goes on to say, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs” (v. 6). We are expected to know who the swine and dogs are. An underlying assumption is that we must judge carefully and biblically.
For more in-depth answers, we’ve linked some trustworthy resources at the end of this post.
Ultimately, pointing out sin in a general way is not unbiblical. It is what God calls speaking the truth, and very few things are as loving as speaking the truth. Confronting someone who is in sin is not judging or condemning someone (Galatians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 5, Proverbs 12:1, John 7:24). Exposing lies, heresy, false teachings, and false teachers is also not divisiveness or disunity. In fact, false teachings are what are referred to in scripture as being divisive (Romans 16:17). Ephesians 5:11 is very clear that we must expose the darkness and have nothing to do with it.
Can we redefine love?
It almost seems like there is a movement within visible Christianity to redefine the implications of the commands to love your neighbor as yourself and to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). To some this means letting others figure things out on their own, learning their own truth. For others, love is ignoring the elephant in the room and just being "happy" for them no matter the sin they are caught up in. Or a softer approach might be not wanting to make their friend or family member feel depressed or self-conscious by speaking up about the issue.
Jesus said, "All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:40). This means we are to follow God’s law and His intentions for love, not individually defined or culturally acceptable versions of it. We are not meant to be constant nags or fault-finders (Jude 1:16), but we are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, rightly viewing the world around us (Matthew 10:16). Scripture is clear on righteous judgment. Stand firm in the faith, encourage others around you to interpret the Word of God correctly and apply it correctly, even if it means losing popularity. Being a Christian is about pleasing the Lord, not about pleasing men (Galatians 1:10).
As Paul said perfectly to the Ephesians,
Peace to the brothers and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (Ephesians 6:23-24)
Love Is Not Silent ~LINS
Additional Trustworthy Resources
- John MacArthur, writing for Ligonier Ministries: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/pearls-before-swine/
- GotQuestions: https://www.gotquestions.org/do-not-judge.html
- Justin Peters at the Judge Not Conference, about 15 minutes in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe_tjBksaX0
- Judge Not by Todd Friel available at Amazon and Wretched Radio