Judging vs. Being Judgmental

David Bast

READ : Matthew 7:1-6

Judging is both a wonderful and a necessary thing. One of the most respected professions in any land is that of a judge. Judging is also important for us in our everyday lives. It’s a high compliment to say that someone has good judgment.

Why then does Jesus tell us we must not judge? Obviously Jesus must be using the word in a different sense here. To judge can mean to recognize the truth and make appropriate decisions about it, and in that sense we should all be judging constantly.

But to judge can also mean to condemn and reject people, to criticize harshly, to be faultfinding, to tear others down. That is the kind of behavior Jesus forbids in those who want to be his followers.

And he tells us why. One reason is that judgment has a way of boomeranging: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” In this, as in other things, God’s rule is that you get what you give. Another reason is that we are neither good enough nor wise enough to judge others. That’s the meaning behind Jesus’ sarcastic saying about the speck and the plank. (Just try to picture it and you’ll get the joke.) We are usually not qualified to pass judgment on others because our own faults are just as bad or worse.


Lord, show me where I have been judgmental of others, and help me to change. In Jesus’ name. Amen.