Judge not, that ye be not judged - These exhortations are pointed against rash, harsh, and uncharitable judgments, the thinking evil, where no evil seems, and speaking of it accordingly. The Jews were highly criminal here, and yet had very excellent maxims against it, as may be seen in Schoettgen. This is one of the most important exhortations in the whole of this excellent sermon. By a secret and criminal disposition of nature, man endeavors to elevate himself above others, and, to do it more effectually, depresses them. His jealous and envious heart wishes that there may be no good quality found but in himself, that he alone may be esteemed. Such is the state of every unconverted man; and it is from this criminal disposition, that evil surmises, rash judgments, precipitate decisions, and all other unjust procedures against our neighbor, flow.
Judge not - This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Romans 2:1. Luke Luke 6:37 explains it in the sense of “condemning.” Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our “forming an opinion” of the conduct of others, for it is impossible “not” to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and a habit of “expressing” such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed. It rather refers to private judgment than “judicial,” and perhaps primarily to the customs of the scribes and Pharisees.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 2 Corinthians 13:5. UL 366.1
To speak the word of God with faithfulness is a work of the greatest importance. But this is an entirely different work from continually censuring, thinking evil, and drawing apart from one another. Judging and reproving are two different things. God has laid upon His servants the work of reproving in love those who err, but He has forbidden and denounced the thoughtless judging so common among professed believers in the truth.... UL 366.2Read in context »
After many had spoken, One of authority appeared, and repeated the words: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).... Christ Himself was present. An expression of painfulness came over His countenance as one after another would come forward, with uncouth dress, to expatiate upon the faults of various members of the church. UL 216.5Read in context »
The effort to earn salvation by one's own works inevitably leads men to pile up human exactions as a barrier against sin. For, seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own to force themselves to obey. All this turns the mind away from God to self. His love dies out of the heart, and with it perishes love for his fellow men. A system of human invention, with its multitudinous exactions, will lead its advocates to judge all who come short of the prescribed human standard. The atmosphere of selfish and narrow criticism stifles the noble and generous emotions, and causes men to become self-centered judges and petty spies. MB 123.1Read in context »
Those who stand upon the rock of eternal truth will sometimes meet such opposition as will call for very decided action. At such times let every word be carefully weighed, lest you injure the souls of those you desire to help. Keep your tongue as with a bridle. Remember that God has not given to you the work of judging your brethren.... TDG 265.3Read in context »