On Judging Others

Matthew 7: 1-5
2 Kgs 17: 5-8, 13-15, 18 / Ps 60: 3-5, 12-13

Judge not, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
(Matthew 7:1-2)

A discerning mind, a gentle heart
From prejudice keep them far apart,
Grant that in any controversy,
Our judgments will be ruled by mercy.

“Judge not, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, remove the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)


Jesus did not mean it literally when He said we should not judge. After all, judging is a human faculty that we use to make the right choices. From the moment we wake up in the morning, until the time we retire at night, we would have made hundreds of judgments in deciding on a variety of activities to perform, how, where and when to perform them, etc. Judging is a mental process by which we evaluate facts in order to reach a decision or opinion. God gave us free will, and with it the gifts of knowledge and discernment so that we can make the right decisions with regard to what is good, proper and true. With these gifts, our Lord expects us to think and behave with wisdom and good sense.

What our Lord meant first of all was, we should “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly” (John 7:24). We must take care because, being human, our scope of perception is usually limited to the externals, is often subjective, and may even be biased, hardly adequate to judge the character of others. It is almost impossible for us to make an impartial opinion. As a result of past experiences, we carry prejudices that color our judgment. We can never see the real person as God does. He alone has unlimited wisdom and insight to see the character flaws and malicious motives of men. Secondly, Jesus taught us to stop being judgmental, because too often we may have a greater flaw than the person we are judging. When He said, “Judge not…” He was warning us against being self-righteous and critical on moral issues, but instead to be careful and loving when we judge as we will surely face the same standard that we are using. The third point against judging others is having the wrong intention. The leaders of the Jews judged Jesus unfairly because they felt threatened by His teachings and wondrous works. Imagine accusing Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul! By accusing Him this way, a judgment of damnation fell on their heads, as “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Mt.12:31).

Jesus wants us to judge wisely for our own sake. He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Mt.7:15). As His followers, we also have the responsibility to use good judgment in shepherding others. St. Paul said, “Brothers, if a man is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct him in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself so that you also may not be tempted.” (Gal.6:1). St. James echoed the same message: “Brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (Ja.5:19-20).

If we must be the judge of others for their faults or omissions, let us examine ourselves first, and see if we are living up to the standard of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will be our Final Judge. He has left us all that we need in the Bible, and if we meditate on His Word regularly, there is no reason why we cannot regard others wisely, with love and mercy.

Lord God, in regarding others, help us to ‘put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another… putting on love, which is the bond of perfection’ (Col. 3:12-14) so that we may receive the same. Amen.

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