Exaggeration of the commandment:
"Judge not, that ye be not judged"
There are some Christians that exaggerate this advice of
the Lord to such an extent, that they think they cannot emit an opinion about
anything or anyone. They have hypertrophied and twisted this verse so
much that they refrain themselves from giving a report about the
characteristics, traits or behaviors of another person.
There are others who, being immersed in their sins, do not desire that any brother rebuke or advise them. They fend themselves off by grabbing hold of this verse. I know a man who used to say: "Do not, judge! Do not judge! Beware of the spiritual consequences of judging others". This was his way to coerce into silence any brother who wanted to talk to him about his adulteries and fornications.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall
be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest
not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: "Let
me pull out the mote out of thine eye"; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou
see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." ( Matt 7:1-5 )
What the Lord is saying here, to my understanding, is
that we should not point out small flaws in our brothers, while we are deeply
involved in bigger and deeper flaws ourselves. What the Lord means is that
we must not judge unjustly, nor give ourselves the right to say if an
illness or suffering is a punishment or simply an accident of life, neither if
a person is going to go to hell or going to be saved.
Based on the integral teaching of the Bible, I do not believe Our Lord is telling us that we must not use our common sense and discernment to get an idea about the behavior and attitudes of other people. Instead, I think that he is exhorting us not to unjustly apply rules to other people, because what we do to others we could have done unto us.
This is the interpretation that can be drawn from phrases like "…with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged " and "…considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye "
If we read a little further in verses 15-20 we see that Jesus himself exhorts us to judge who is a false prophet. If this is what the Lord says after having said "Judge not, that ye be not judged ", it is evident that he is not trying to paralyze our adequate discernment.
of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but
inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree
bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good
tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good
fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into
the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." ( Matt 7: 15-20 )
It is evident that the Lord is telling us to try to
distinguish between who is a false prophet and who is not. To get to
such a conclusion it is necessary for us to judge. We have to judge
who is a good tree; we have to judge who is a bad tree; we
have to judge what are good fruits. Therefore, it is not that
kind of judgment that the Lord is forbidding us.
Should Matthew 7:1-5 be a total prohibition of judging anything or anyone, this would cause us to have a mental paralysis. If we see a bully beating a little old lady to death with a club, we could not say that he is a scoundrel, because we would be judging this person.
If this really was Jesus' command then, even the pastoral institution could not exist, because telling someone to believe in Christ in order to be saved means that the pastor judged that he is not saved. The job of a pastor implies to watch out for the souls, and tell them when they are sinning; and this action involves judging. If the pastor and deacons see a member doing something that is out of order, they could not dare to tell him anything, because he would reply: "do not judge that you be not judged". Jesus did not put pastors in a position where they would be constantly afraid of committing this farfetched "sin of judging". Also, when a Christian preaches the gospel to a person, this Christian must be "judging", because he is thinking that the person is not saved, and therefore, he is committing the bizarre "sin of judging". Jesus did not put Christians on the verge of sinning by means of "judging" that a person is not saved. To think that is wrong. That interpretation is ludicrous.
Even the first Christians did not have this attitude of "not judging any thing". We can see this in Acts 16:15 where
As we can see, our first brethren, who were closer to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, did not have that extremist attitude of not judging. Those who hold fast to this erroneous interpretation have one of two reasons: 1) They do not fully understand this teaching of Jesus, or 2) They do not want anybody to rebuke them for their sins in or out of the church.