Misunderstood verses #7
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” Matthew 7:1
This is another verse that gets thrown around as a way to not deal with personal sin. “You can’t judge me because Jesus said you can’t.” It falls into the “my truth” and “your truth” category of misleading statements used to deflect accountability for godly behavior.
Consider the context. Jesus is well into the longest sermon we have on record, the Sermon on the Mount. He has already discussed the Beatitudes, the need to be salt in a decaying world, the correct interpretation of the Law, the importance of giving, the need for prayer, the treasure of heaven, and the problem of worry. Each subject is for the general population of his followers, not case studies of individuals. He is giving an overview of living a transformed life.
Judgement in this context is about getting your own house in order before taking on the role of correcting others. The religious leaders of the time were corrupt, so much so that Jesus eventually compares them to whitewashed tombs: grand on the outside, but full of death within. His message here teaches the importance of being honest about dealing with personal sin. It is a message of humility versus hypocrisy.
Later, in Matthew 18, Jesus teaches the right way to hold each other accountable. If repentance and restoration is impossible, Jesus says to treat that person like a pagan. Our culture would call that judging, but Jesus is concerned about the ways in which believers work out their faith, and accountability, done with grace and love, is part of the picture.