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What Does the Bible Mean When It Says We Are Not to Judge Others?

As imperfect people, we have a tendency to focus on others’ faults instead of our own. It’s easy to make judgments on other people’s behavior or actions, while at the same time minimizing our own sinful inclinations and imperfections. Jesus understood this tendency of humans well, which is why he told his followers to “Stop judging that you may not be judged” (Matt 7:1). 

Jesus Teaches Us How to Judge
In Matthew 7:1, Jesus tells us not to judge hypocritically.  The Bible makes it very clear what God’s standards are on certain matters, and upholding those standards does not make us “judgmental” people. Jesus set the example when he did not judge others based on outward appearances. He took their circumstances into consideration and their motives. Jesus wanted us to exercise a "righteous judgment" with careful discernment. (John 7:24).

In Matthew 7:2-5 Jesus clearly warns us to not judge someone else'a sin, especially when you are sinning even worse. He proclaims, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to 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, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

What Should We Do?
Before looking at others critically, we should take a hard look at ourselves. Are there qualities within us that we should work on? Then focus on those. Put your energy into weeding out the negative inclinations you have within yourself. Then you are in a better position to offer sincere help to others. 

Since we all make mistakes and are imperfect, conflicts are bound to arise between one another. Instead of dealing harshly with each other, maintaining a loving spirit and applying the counsel within Matthew 18:15-17 can help us keep peaceful relationships. There Jesus tells us, “Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go and reveal his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Not making harsh judgments and gossiping about one another when a problem arises can result in maintaining peace. If we have a problem with a friend or family member, apply scriptural counsel to speak with them. Your goal should not be to prove you are right, but to “speak truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) so we can all be united as the body of Christ, loving and supporting one another.

Keep in mind that only God can read hearts. What we may see on the outside of an individual may not be the entire picture, and to judge them would be unwise. If we see someone heading down a course that is clearly against Bible principles, the Bible counsels us to help correct them. This is not judging, but pointing out the truth with the goal of helping them to repent and be restored to the fellowship (James 5:20).

As Christians, we need to uphold God’s standards, while striving to never be hypocritical in our views of others.

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