What did Jesus mean ‘Do not judge’ in Matthew 7:1-5?
In the first verse of Matthew 7, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
Frankly, how can we not judge especially when we need to ascertain things about other people? By definition, a judgment is an opinion or decision based on thoughts, feelings and evidence. We human beings, regardless of race or creed, can not help making hundreds of judgement calls every day. I mean consider…
“Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, our brain makes 11 different decisions about them including their intelligence, socioeconomic status, education, competence and trustworthiness,” said corporate image consultant and personal brand strategist Anna Hinson.
Making judgments is built in our subconscious. So, is Jesus asking us to curtail what God Himself had created in us? Of course not. So, what was Jesus really talking about? Well, let us again look at the context of the passage.
Matthew 7:1-5 happened to be part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which started in chapter 5. His famed sermon had a recurring theme.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20]
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the ‘super religious’ of the Jewish nation. They were so highly educated that Jesus told the people to learn from them and take advantage of their abilities to impart scriptures. However, these Pharisees had an incredible flaw, so much so, that when Jesus was talking about them to the people, he shared this parable.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
When Jesus said, ‘Do not judge…’, he really meant that we should not form such a haughty opinion of others just like the Pharisee in the parable above. There is a cost if you do.
There is a biblical principle that says what you sow, you will also reap. In other words, what goes around comes around. So, if you judge other people badly you will eventually be judge badly by not just someone of your peer but by One who is greater, God Himself.
So, take heed.