When Jesus commands: “Do not judge” He’s saying, “Do not criticize and condemn.” Of all the gifts of the Spirit, “the word of criticism” is not listed among them! A critical spirit is classified as a work of the flesh, not the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-23).
Jesus commands us not to judge for three reasons. First, a critical and condemning attitude only breeds more of the same. If we are judgmental, critical, and condemning toward others they will naturally become judgmental, critical and condemning toward us. “Do not judge, so that YOU will not be judged.”
Second, God will judge us the same way we’ve judged others: “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
According to some rabbis, God has two “standards of measure” when it comes to judgment: “mercy” and “justice.” If we use the rigid standard of “justice” in judging others, God will use a rigid standard of justice with us. However, if we use the gracious standard of “mercy,” God will be merciful to us!
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy;” writes James, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
Finally, and this is the most telling reason Jesus commands, “Do not judge,” because we are guilty of the same offense! “Why do you look at 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,’ and behold, the log is 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.”
Keep in mind that the “speck” of sawdust is made of the same material as the “log.” In other words, we have a bigger problem with the very same sin that we condemn in others.
“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment,” writes Paul, “for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1).
(Jessie J. Charpentier Sr. is pastor of Jenkins Memorial Baptist Church in St. Martinville.)