These words are often quoted–usually by people who are doing something they feel guilty about. But they are also often misunderstood. The verses that follow are crucial. He doesn’t mean that we can never judge others. After all, is that what happens in court all day long? What matters is how we judge. The Bible tells us numerous times that we are in fact to judge other people. We are to judge whether people are righteous or unrighteous. We are to judge whether these are people that we need to put ourselves in contact with. If we walked around our entire lives never judging anyone’s behavior, then we would accept all behavior. Parents couldn’t judge their children in order to discipline them. We couldn’t place judgment on whether we want to be friends with someone or to marry someone. Employers couldn’t judge whether or not they wanted to hire someone. This whole idea of “judge not lest ye be judged” is so misused in society. The truth is that Jesus does tell us it’s okay to judge. People use this quote only to serve their own purposes. People will spout this, instead of really understanding its meaning. We can judge other people, but we have to do it in the right way. We can judge other people, but we have to first look at our own sins and make sure that the plank is removed from our own eyes. Then, and only then, can we begin to examine the speck in another person’s eye. Jesus tells us that we will be judged as we judge people. Jesus says that we can judge others–provided that we remove our own sin first.
And we pray:
Father, Help me to not judge others in a hypocritical way. Help to examine myself, to be able to judge right from wrong, to judge unrighteousness, to determine “swine” before I cast my “pearls.” Help me to be a wise judge and one who sins not. Amen.