The world, and many Christians, get hung up on the idea that Christians aren’t supposed to judge anyone. The problem stems from an improper understanding of the Biblical use of the word “judge”. Most will point to Matthew 7 which says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
In Greek, the word for judge here is “krino”, which means to condemn or damn, as in to sentence or levy a punishment. Clearly, it is not the Christians duty to put a sentence of punishment on anyone. That is the provenance of God. Yet, if we are to never “judge”, then why would Jesus admonish us to FIRST remove the plank from our eye so that we can then remove the speck from our brother’s eye?
To claim we must not judge means Jesus contradicts Himself in John 7:24, where He says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” So, DID Jesus contradict Himself? Absolutely not. Remember, Scripture can have only ONE interpretation but many applications. Jesus’ teaching on judgement is to correctly, or righteously determine a man’s heart by His standards, not by his outer appearance or by our own set of criteria.
Certainly, we are to analyze—judge—what is right or wrong, based on the mind of God as expressed in His Word. How we apply that judgment to others is critical, for Christ will take the same attitude with us that we take with others. As an example, proper “judging” helps us determine how to best witness to someone. How can we decide who to marry unless we “judge” whether that person is the one whom God would have us marry?
Like it or not, life forces us to make judgments, or decisions, about people every day. These may deal with mundane physical things or with friendships or marriages that affect a lifetime. Many have gone through life wishing they had been equipped early in life to render and exercise sounder judgments, for the process of making good calls can be very confusing. It is so easy to dwell on the wrong factors or see only what is on the surface.
Yet, we must be very careful not to fall into the trap of legalism. A good definition of legalism is to try and justify our position in Christ by our own efforts. It is not our efforts that can ever secure our salvation. Yet, many try to elevate their own position in Him by attacking others. God forbid we should ever do that. But God forbid we should ever tire from speaking forth the never-changing, eternal truth of God in loving concern for those around us.