Online Bible Commentary
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. 6 Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (NKJV)
"Judge not, that you be not judged” (v. 1). This verse is often used today to discourage all forms of judgment. However, this verse refers to unrighteous judgment of others, such as suspected motives, physical appearance, or positions on matters not defined in the Bible. These examples are all supported by other scripture. We should not judge these matters.
However, judging of others for the purpose of bringing them in line with God is Biblical. We should be careful in judging others for we too will be judged, by God. We should judge in love, with grace, the same way God judges us (v. 2). Also, we should deal with sin, “the plank” (v. 3), in our own lives first, before judging others (v. 4). Otherwise, we will be guilty of being a “hypocrite” (v. 5).
In verse six Jesus makes it clear that He is not forbidding every kind of judging. He uses the example of dogs and pigs. Israelites believed that dogs and pigs were unclean animals, and here Jesus is using them to denote evil people.
Jesus is saying that we should judge when someone has contempt for God and His word and that we should not give “holy” things, “pearls”, to them. It takes spiritual discernment to judge these people. In that regard, Jesus spoke about prayer in the next passage.
This passage does not forbid all forms of judging. The Old Testament is full of representatives of God pointing out the sins of the Israelites and their Kings and other leaders, and calling for repentance. The New Testament is replete with commands to judge the condition, conduct, or teaching of others.
To use this passage to forbid all judging shows a lack of knowledge of the Bible. Any Bible verse should be interpreted according to its context in the passage, the book, and the overall teaching of the Bible.
As Christians we should point out evil wherever it is found. The Bible commands us to purge the evil from our midst (Deuteronomy 19:19 and many other verses). How can we purge evil without first identifying it, i.e. judging it?
So, judging of others is not forbidden by the Bible. The first step to solving a problem is to recognize that the problem exists. We all need people in our lives who love us enough to point out our problems.
Judging others in love, with grace, can help them to make positive changes in their lives. These changes can help bring them into right relationship with God. However, we must first be in that right relationship with God ourselves, before attempting to help others to do the same.