Friday, October 30, 2015


Sermon on the Mount (pt 16)

We come now to the most important verse in the entire Bible.
At least it would appear that way, since this one is quoted more often than John 3:16.

If you have been following this blog, then you know the verse to which I refer.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Mat 7:1)
There is no more friendly verse in all of scripture than this one for the person who refuses wisdom. (Pro. 15:32) Try to point something out that may be in need of repair in a person’s life, and this verse is sure to come up.

Thanks to our propensity to lift verses completely out of their context—rendering many of them void of anything resembling its original intent—we have elevated this verse out of all proportion, and made it the sine qua non of any and all discernment. Which, of course, makes discernment of no value whatsoever.

I will try to clarify as best I can with the grace given me.
Judge not…
Don’t judge what?
…(So) that you are not judged.
Judged by whom?

The first thing that needs to be cleared up in our understanding is that this verse does not stand alone, nor as the capstone or summary of all other verses in the Bible that may deal with judging something or someone.

There are many places in scripture that use the word “judge” in various contexts. The Greek word that is so translated in our verse under consideration is used 114 times in the NT.
It is used in a variety of ways, and is translated accordingly (in the KJV) by:  judge (88x), determine (7x),condemn (5x), go to law (2x), call in question (2x), esteem (2x), misc (8x).
(For those of you who believe and practice Acts 17:11, click on the link of a particular word and you will be taken to ALL the verses that use that English word in the KJV)

Taken from the Blue Letter Bible, the following is an outline of the biblical usage of the Greek word in the KJV:
I.             to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose
II.            to approve, esteem, to prefer
III.          to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
IV.          to determine, resolve, decree
V.           to judge
        A.           to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong
        B.           to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure
VI.          to rule, govern
        A.           to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment
VII.        to contend together, of warriors and combatants
        A.           to dispute
        B.           in a forensic sense
One of the rules of dictionary definitions is that the first definition is the most common.

The most common one listed here in biblical usage is the simple idea of how we “judge” on a daily basis.

For instance, at the produce bin in the grocery store, you “judge” the quality of the vegetables in the bin and then choose one.
At the ice cream store, you “judge” which of the 102 flavors is most appealing to you at the moment.
You are making a discretionary call. You are judging.

When you tell someone, “You shouldn’t be doing that,” you are making a judgment call.
Whether you are right or wrong is not the issue.
You have judged something about them.

The first three examples of biblical usage fall into this category, and could well be considered as using discretion or discernment; which we are certainly called to do. (Matt. 7:16-20; Heb. 5:14; 1 Cor. 6:5)

It is the fourth and fifth ones, however, that give people the most trouble.

To say, “You are going to hell,” is definitely not within the scope of my authority. That kind of statement is quite a few levels above my paygrade, and most likely yours for that matter.

Now, all that I have said above is so much useless prattle if we would simply consider the context, or what follows Matt. 7:1—
For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why behold the mote that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, “Let me pull out the mote out of your eye”; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye. (Mat 7:2-5)

Side Note: When Jesus said, “You hypocrite,” is that not judging? Hmmm…

Even a cursory reading of this passage will reveal that the main thought here is that we are not to pass sentence on someone's behavior unless we are qualified to do so. 

And if we think we are qualified, we need to make sure that we are willing to be judged with the same quality of judgment to which we are subjecting another.

How do we become qualified to judge others?


Remove the great big beam that is in your own eye first.

In case you don’t know what that might be, let me ask you a question.
Have you ever had a speck of dust get caught in your eye?
How big did that feel at the moment?
Did you not stop what you were doing and try to remove it?
Of course, you did.
Because it was hindering whatever else you were trying to do at the time.

Jesus said in Mat 6:22-23—
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
It is the single eye, the one that is free from being pressed by labors, annoyances and hardships, that qualifies you to sit in the seat of judgment. (click here for the BLB entry for “evil”)

Jesus meant what He said.
You may judge, but only if you keep two things in mind:
  1. Only judge if you are qualified by reason of absolute purity in your own life
  2. Be prepared to reap the consequences of your judgment
Therefore, the next time someone tries to knock you off balance with “Judge not,” your immediate response should be,
“Thank you for judging me in that. I appreciate it.”

Your comments, criticisms, or questions are welcome here.
Please consider leaving your response below—either through words, or simply checking the appropriate box below that equals your reaction.
Thank you.


  1. Another really good post! I really like your comment "To say, “You are going to hell,” is definitely not within the scope of my authority. That kind of statement is quite a few levels above my paygrade, and most likely yours for that matter." ....well said there!


Your comments are welcome here.
Feel free to critique, criticize, question, or otherwise make your voice heard in relation to this post.
I only ask that you keep it civil and appropriate to the post.