“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” This phrase, spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:1, seems to be thrown around quite a bit in Christian circles. Here, Jesus is making a case against the hypocrite who tries to “remove the speck” from his brother’s eye, without seeing the “beam” in his own. Jesus warns that “by the standard you judge you will be judged”, thus taking away some of the gusto with which we so gleefully condemn our own friends.
So what’s the big deal with judging, anyway? What does it mean to judge someone? In what manner should we judge those around us? Should we even be judging those around us? Before I offer an answer to the above questions, I'd like to take a look at a passage in James.
James 4:11-12 says,
"Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. He who speaks against a fellow believer or judges a fellow believer speaks against the law and judges the laws. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but its judge. (12) But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge - the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor?"
James begins this section with an imperative - "Do not speak against one another." He quickly expands this thought into the idea of one who "speaks against" and "judges" a fellow believer. James then goes on to list several reasons as to why this passing of judgment isn't such a good idea.
Part two of this series will take a look at the reasons James lists as to why we are not to "speak against one another".