How Will You Be Judged?
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2, NKJV)
Here Jesus moved to another idea in the Sermon on the Mount. He had primarily dealt with themes connected with the interior spiritual life (attitudes in giving, prayer, fasting, materialism, and anxiety over material things). Now He touches on an important theme related to the way we think of and treat others.
We remember that Jesus called for a righteousness that was greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). In the way some people think, the way to make one’s self more righteous is to be more judgmental of others. Jesus here rebuked that kind of thinking.
With this command, Jesus warned against passing judgment upon others, because when we do so, we will be judged in a similar manner.
Among those who seem to know nothing of the Bible, this is the verse that seems to be most popular. Yet most the people who quote this verse don’t understand what Jesus said. They seem to think (or hope) that Jesus commanded a universal acceptance of any lifestyle or teaching.
Just a little later in this same sermon (Matthew 7:15-16), Jesus commanded us to know ourselves and others by the fruit of their life, and some sort of assessment is necessary for that. The Christian is called to show unconditional love, but the Christian is not called to unconditional approval. We really can love people who do things that should not be approved of.
So while this does not prohibit examining the lives of others, it certainly prohibits doing it in the spirit it is often done. An example of unjust judgment was the disciples’ condemnation of the woman who came to anoint the feet of Jesus with oil (Matthew 26:6-13). They thought she was wasting something; Jesus said she had done a good work that would always be remembered.
How Will You Be Judged?
Jesus did not prohibit the judgment of others. He only requires that our judgment be completely fair and that we only judge others by a standard we would also like to be judged by.
When our judgment in regard to others is wrong, it is often not because we judge according to a standard, but because we are hypocritical in the application of that standard – we ignore the standard in our own life. It is common to judge others by one standard and ourselves by another standard – being far more generous to ourselves than others.
This is the principle upon which Jesus built the command, Judge not, that you be not judged. God will measure unto us according to the same measure we use for others. This is a powerful motivation for us to be generous with love, forgiveness, and goodness to others. If we want more of those things from God, we should give more of them to others.
According to the teaching of some rabbis in Jesus’ time, God had two measures that He used to judge people. One was a measure of justice and the other was a measure of mercy. Whichever measure you want God to use with you, you should use that same measure with others.
We should only judge another’s behavior when we are mindful of the fact that we ourselves will be judged, and we should consider how we would want to be judged.
How will you be judged?
Father God, we confess we are so judgemental at times. Help us to keep Your instruction in mind when we are tempted to render our flesh-based judgment on others. In Jesus name, Amen.
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