DO NOT JUDGE?
By Rolan Monje, for MMCC April 2003
We have heard it time and again that we "should
not judge". But what does it really mean? The
point is that the line "Do not judge" is
one of the most abused religious lines ever. Let's
look at the famous line from Jesus' Sermon on the
MT 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be
judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured
The point of the Sermon
When we look at the Sermon in its entirety, we begin
to understand what "Do not judge" is supposed
to mean. It does not forbid all judging of any kind.
In fact, the Sermon challenges us to think critically
and make good decisions for ourselves. One case of
this is in line with the warning against false prophets
(vv. 15-20). The call is for his followers not to
be judgmental (cf Ro 14:10-13). Those who judge like
this will in turn be judged, not by other people (which
would not really matter much anyway), but by God.
Anyone who engages in such judgment is close to "acting"
We thus see that people often oversimplify things,
either deliberately or inadvertently. In any case,
a good analysis of Biblical text is missed. What we
often get is a bad shortcut. Judging (Gk. krino is
the root word here ) by itself is simply making a
conclusion. In line with Matt 7 it is a hypocritical
kind of judging . But this word can also be used in
the solemn judicial manner of judging (Jn 18:31;Ac
24:6) or the judgment of God (Ac 17:31, Ro 3:6). Krino
is also used of Christ's action in 2 Ti 4:1. In contrast,
katakrino means "to condemn" and is used
in Mt 12:41-42 and Luke 11:31-32.
Different kinds of "judging"
When we look at the rest of the Bible, we actually
see different kinds of judging.
The Bad Kinds, discouraged in the Bible
Hypocritical judging (Matt 7:1-5, Rom 2:1)
Superficial judging (John 7:24)
Judging someone wrongly in disputable matters (Rom
Doubting someone's motives (1 Cor 4:3-5)
Thinking of another person/group as inferior (Jam
The Good Kinds, encouraged in the Bible
Discerning when someone is receptive (Matt 7:6)
Coming to a correct conclusion (Luke 12:57)
Spiritual judgment (1 Cor 2:15)
Disciplining someone (1 Cor 5:12-13)
The Divine Kinds, left to God alone
Judgment by vindication (Heb 10:30)
Completely Unbiased judgment (Gal 2:6)
Final judgment (Jn 12:48, 1 Pet 4:5, Heb 12:23)
Let us all mature in our understanding of judging.