Have You Ever Misused This Bible Passage?
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
“He that is without sin among you,
let him first cast a stone at her.”
These two verses are quoted frequently by someone who is introducing something immoral or has been found doing something wicked, dishonorable, or sinful. They do not want to be discovered. They would rather not be exposed.
The guilty party states these passages to point out “nobody’s perfect.” “We all make mistakes.” “Everyone has faults.” The conclusion drawn is no one can rebuke or accuse me or anyone else of something as wrong, if they have sinned as well. Never mind it is not the same sin. The point is, others have done equally as wrong. No condemnation should be made of either party. It gives tolerance for the sin in question or any other sin to be rebuked or corrected.
Being without sin is not the subject. We all have sinned (Romans 3:23). The problem is understanding the word “judge.” Is judging necessary? How does judging impact the relationships we have with others? Do we tolerate abusive circumstances, when we all have made mistakes?
If Jesus were eliminating judgment from any one for anything, in Matthew 7:6 He brought it up again after His statement in v. 1. In order to determine who to give what is holy, a judgment must be made. In vv. 15-20, deciding who are false prophets needs some discretion, a standard, and a termination of contact with what is false to follow what is true. Looking at trees, you have to conclude some trees are good. Others are bad. The fruit makes the difference.
Prior to John 8 and the statement of casting a stone, in John 7:24 an exhortation is given by the Lord to “judge righteous judgment.” The same is true in 1 Corinthians 2:15: “He that is spiritual judgeth all things.” Then in 1 Corinthians 6:2,5, the scriptures say saints judge the world. Furthermore, Paul exhorted Timothy to “preach the word...reprove, rebuke, exhort...” (2 Timothy 4:2). How do you deliver a rebuke versus what is exhorting unless you determine the audience is in sin or they are faithful and need encouraging?
If rebuking, correcting, or judging is forbidden, parents should back away from discipline, police need to go home to their families, churches cannot withdraw from disorderly members, court judges would be in the unemployment line, every person applying for a job must be hired, and school teachers cannot give a failing grade. The problems are endless, unless a form of judging is not executed.
As many want to speak of the love of Jesus, some fail to realize our Savior delivered many rebukes and condemnations. The justification for Him doing so points to His sinless perfection (Hebrews 4:14-16). Indeed. It is the same Lord who also said, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2, NASV). This passage from Jesus makes it clear judgment is to be made. The qualification is with the standard by which you judged, it will be used to judge you. The amount of mercy you show, it will be shown to you (Luke 6:38).
This message from Jesus is about righteousness to those He desired and who desires to be disciples in His kingdom. They would understand the need for such a strong statement. They will find places in their lives where this would be applied. They will not have a critical heart to make harsh judgments of people like, “If you’re not a member of the church of Christ, you’re going to hell!” There are even those in the church who struggle with being faithful. They do not need hypocritical judgment from someone who sees only how bad they are to the neglect of their own sin.
Those in the world, who choose to do evil and would not want it condemned, will not appreciate a rebuke. They will attempt to find every way to continue living in ungodliness. They become angry with those who in any way suggest their actions to be sinful.
If we apply mercy when and where needed, we will offer the right rebuke and treatment for those who need to come to God just like I do. Looking at Matthew 5:7 and 6:12, we need to extend mercy in hopes of receiving the same.
Let your goal be to understand and know what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:17). It avoids foolish judgments. Seek to have knowledge and act upon it wisely. Know the truth and teach others “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Doing so will convict the world of sin, but it will also deliver a message of righteousness to every soul in need of God’s saving grace.