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John Kespert
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What Does “Judge Not That You Be Not Judged” Really Mean?

Published on 8/22/2016
For additional information  Click Here

What Does “Judge Not That You Be Not Judged” Really Mean?

     People love to say “Judge not, that you be not judged” to silence anyone who finds fault with their own behavior or that of others. They are often quite smug in their use of that quote, thinking that they are so clever as to use the Bible to put down anyone who would question their right to do whatever they feel like doing. After all, they are quoting Jesus Christ Himself.

     Of course many of those people who glibly quote those words have never taken the time to actually read the actual passage of Scripture from which it is taken, or any passages of the Bible that might clarify what Jesus meant by those words.

     How would you like to take and use just one line from a list of directions explaining how to get to a destination? You might know which highway to start out on, but not know what exit to take, or which way to go and how far to go after getting off that highway. You might end up going a very long distance without ever getting to where you wanted to end up.

     Or how about only having just the first few words of a recipe? If you wanted to make an apple pie, and all you had to go by was that you needed two of the ingredients, apples and flour, but didn't know what else to include, how to mix them together, and how to cook them at the right temperature for the right amount of time, the results could be most unappetizing.

    The quote under consideration here is taken from what we call the Sermon on the Mount, which contains a lot of things that actually sound rather judgmental, like saying those who only gave to the needy when they are sure others will see them do it were just hypocrites. So what did Jesus mean when He said, in this specific passage, “Judge not?” Let's take a look at the context.

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
(Mat 7:1-5)

     Take particular note of the last sentence of that passage: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” Jesus was not saying to never say or try to do something about getting a speck (a splinter) out of brother's eye. He was simply making the point that we better know what we're doing, and why we're doing it, before we do it. We are not to try removing splinters from our brother's eye, or, for that matter, do anything else, hypocritically, not knowing what or how to do it properly.

   Misusing this “quote” is done so often because people want to do what they want to do, and will even grasp at a few words taken out of context from the Bible to justify whatever they like. That is a wretched use of Scripture. Does my saying that sound judgmental to you? How dare I say such an unloving thing? Well, let's see what the Bible does say about the proper use of Scripture.

 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17) ESV

     Did you notice that reproof and correction are included in the purposes for all of Scripture? Reproving and correcting should of course never be done hypocritically, but we are indeed specifically instructed that they should be done. And if done in keeping with how and why we are commanded in God's Word, then we can have a proper response for those who shout “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Those who shout that the loudest usually don't have a clue as to what they are talking about.

     If we are to quote any part of the Bible, let us take the time to be sure we are not misrepresenting what is actually being taught by the words we are quoting. The example I've given here is just one of many quotes that are commonly used without any consideration of what is clearly intended in the Bible itself.

 

 

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