One of the most oft’-quoted verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:1—“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Those engaged in immoral behavior frequently quote this verse when attempting to defend their sinful lifestyle. Certain religionists quote it when being challenged to prove that their questionable practices are backed by biblical authority.
Sadly, Matthew 7:1 is not only among the most frequently quoted verses in the Bible, but also is one of the most abused verses in all of Scripture. Its exploitation becomes clear when the entire context of Matthew 7 is studied more carefully.
In Matthew 7, Jesus was not suggesting that a person can never judge. He was saying, when you judge, judge righteously (as when we pray, fast, and do good deeds—do it without hypocrisy—John 7:24). Incidentally, Jesus already had judged the Pharisees. Thus, He obviously was not teaching that we should never judge anyone.
The popular and politically correct idea that “all judging is wrong” is anti-biblical. Those who teach that Jesus was condemning all judging in Matthew 7:1 are guilty of ignoring the context of the passage, as well as the numerous verses throughout the rest of the Bible which teach that judging the sinful lifestyles of others is necessary.
My two cents
I think these four paragraphs do a quick and effective job of getting to the crux of being judgmental in the Bible. I would do well to memorise them as a comeback against people who are more self-righteous (and defensive about it) than I am.
Without judging, we’d have to be neutral about everything qualitative and never come to conclusions about anything emotional, political, or theological.
Even though the source article is 10 years old, I only came across Apologetics Press and their articles in the last few weeks. I’m starting read more of their article archive, but it would be better if they could be sorted in date order as well (i.e. structured like a blog, not just an alphabetical archive).
Lyons, E. (2003). To Judge, or Not to Judge?. Available: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1197. Last accessed 12th Jan 2013.