by Rich Deem
"Do not judge so that you will not be judged."1 This command was given by Jesus Christ as He was preaching to the crowds on the Mount of Olives. This and similar verses are often cited as proof that Christians should not go around condemning others about their behavior. Is this what Jesus meant when He gave this command? Why does it seem that Christians are always judging others?
What is being judgmental?: To begin the discussion, it would be good to know what the word "judgmental" really means. Here is the definition from the The American Heritage Dictionary2:
- Of, relating to, or dependent on judgment
- Inclined to make judgments, especially moral or personal ones
So, the word "judgmental" refers to making a judgment, especially about somebody's moral or personal behavior. People tend to get upset about others who impugn their own personal behavior. Did Jesus tell us not to do that? What about making general (non-personal) statements about what is right or wrong?
What did Jesus say about judging others?
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus actually had a lot more to say about judging others than just one sentence. Here is the verse in context of the other things Jesus said about judging others:
"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
What is clear from the context is that Jesus was talking about people making personal judgments against others, when their own behavior was much more seriously compromised than the persons they were judging. Even when taken in context, the object of Jesus' statements is not readily evident in this sermon. However, in other preaching, Jesus made it clear that He especially had a problem with the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders of His time. In other confrontations with them, Jesus made some pretty strong statements against those leaders…
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