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Judge not, lest you are judged.

Jesus can be very straightforward and direct. His suggestion on criticizing and judging others is to not do it if we have the same problem ourselves. Period. End of story. No other advice. In other places He elaborates why but the reason here is pretty compelling.

The issue, however, is not about judging but about hypocrisy. How can we judge if we have the same challenge in our lives? Jesus is clear, we can’t. We need to focus on our own issues and heart, not others.

The way I see it: I must admit, this is a tough one.  It is way too easy to be critical. At work, as managers, we are required to do it. At home, as parents, we feel an obligation to do it. But Jesus is clear. It is a “critical spirit” that is the problem. God’s goal for us that we leave the judging up to Him. It is simply not our job to do that.

Do I want to be judged? Do I want to be criticized? If I don’t judge, I won’t be judged.

Judge not, that you be not judged. ~Jesus Matthew 7:1

Here is how it goes in The Message version of the Bible.

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Here is the other side of the issue. Christians must judge the explicitly sinful behavior of a professing Christian. Jesus is clear on this as are the Apostles.

Jesus said a “tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When do the hidden sinful purposes of the heart reveal themselves? In a person’s explicitly sinful behavior. That’s why Paul didn’t even have to be present to pass judgment on a man who engaged in sexual immorality. And he explicitly instructed the Corinthian Christians to pass judgment on him too.

When we sin, our Christian brothers and sisters have an obligation to judge us. They must not condemn us, but they must, out of love, call us to repent. Such judgment is a grace, an expression of God’s kindness, and we only compound our sin if we take offense.

What it’s all about:  If our sin is very serious and our church determines that we must be disciplined according to Matthew 18:15–17, we must keep in mind that the purpose is to pursue our redemption not damnation. The focus is on reconciliation to God. It is not about us and our feelings.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Matthew 18:15–17