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Only God Can Judge Me?

November 12, 20137 min read

I love discussing God’s will for our lives, even when someone disagrees with me about it. Conversations can get real tense real quick though—especially when we’re talking about controversial issues. It’s never fun to tell someone that you think they’re wrong. So I try to be careful with my words, and simply point to what God says, rather than my own opinions. Like clockwork, though, at some point during the conversation, they’ll pull out the trump card: “But doesn’t the Bible also say not to judge? You conveniently skipped over that verse, huh?” It never fails.

In Matthew 7 Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Even those of us who’ve never read the Bible can quote this part of his sermon word for word. This may be the most well known Bible verse in our day. And it may also be the most misunderstood

Misunderstanding this verse means we misunderstand how we’re supposed to love one another. So it’s important that we ask the question: What does Jesus mean when he tells us not to judge?

What He Doesn’t Mean

Last weekend, my wife and I attended a marriage workshop at our church. As we walked through every nook and cranny of our marriage, we had to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. We had numerous chances to encourage each other, but we also had chances to point out shortcomings. During our discussions, my wife helped me to see areas where I’m falling short, where I’m not being as loving as I should be. Was she disobeying Jesus’ command not to judge me? I don’t think so.

Jesus can’t mean that it’s wrong to make any moral judgments. Just a few verses later, Jesus tells his listeners to make judgments about who they share the truth with. And in verse 15 of the same chapter, Jesus instructs them to judge those who claim to be prophets, to see if they genuinely speak from God or if they’re wolves in sheep’s clothing. Not to mention the numerous other passages in Scripture that command us to make varying types of moral judgments. Jesus doesn’t mean to say all judgment is wrong. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t mean that either.

Many people insist that you should never judge anyone, but they don’t really believe that. They don’t think it’s wrong to call the cops on the drug dealers selling dope in front of their house.  And they certainly don’t think it’s wrong to turn off the TV when that greedy preacher starts begging for their money. Then there’s the irony. When you call someone out for judging, you’re actually making a moral judgment about that person. In each of these cases, judgments are being made about the actions of others.

Yet, when judgment hits anywhere close to home, it’s automatically wrong. Who are we to make judgments about others? Let’s think about what Jesus does mean when he tells us not to judge.

What He Does Mean

We use the word judge in a lot of different ways. We could be talking about judging a talent show or judging a court case. It can mean a lot of different things. Similarly, the Greek word Jesus uses for “judge” doesn’t always mean the same thing. So we have to look at the rest of this passage and the rest of the Bible if we want to understand what he meant.

As you continue reading the passage, it becomes clear that Jesus is attacking a specific type of judgment. He uses a hilarious image of a man who notices a speck of sawdust in someone’s eye, but ignores the fact that he has a gigantic log in his own. That’s like a naked man criticizing the hole in your jeans. Jesus isn’t condemning any type of judgment; He’s condemning self-righteous, hypocritical judgments.

In verse 5 he says, “You hypocrite, first take the log our of your own eye.” Before we attempt to judge others, we must judge ourselves. Hypocrites hold people to standards that they themselves ignore. And while self-righteous people have a special gift for pointing out your flaws, they’re oblivious to their own. Jesus says that’s a problem. And he tells us God will judge us in return.

It’s ridiculous to harshly condemn others and to stand over them as if your life is perfect. God is the only judge with clean hands. The rest of us are dirty people, pointing each other to the shower.

You notice he never says, “Take the log out, and don’t worry about other people’s eyes.” He actually says, “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brothers eye.” He’s telling us to examine ourselves, and then to help the brother out.

It’s unloving for me to notice something harmful in your life, but to ignore it like it’s not there. Why would I let someone I love continue to live in a destructive manner? If I love you, I’ll tell you the truth even when it hurts. But it must be based on God’s standard, not my own. And I have to do it from a humble posture that recognizes I need the same grace you do.

Please do obey Matthew 7:1. But don’t forget about Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” We need each other.

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  • MrAveryBrown

    November 12, 2013 / at 12:46 pm

    Encouraging. Convicting. Thoughtful. Let’s check out hearts, strive to learn this concept, daily and apply it.

    • Steve

      November 13, 2013 / at 4:31 pm

      Good word, Trip. Very practical, helpful application for those dealing with this type of situation. Grace and peace…

  • esteban ramirez

    November 12, 2013 / at 12:57 pm

    This is the most accurate definition of that verse. Thank you brother I have been struggling with this. Thanks my brother keep doing what you doing!
    Your Brother in Christ!

  • Charles

    November 12, 2013 / at 1:07 pm

    As my pastor just went over this a week ago it is fresh in my mind. Pastor Brian said “judge is not the proper word if you read the Greek and read it in context.” He went on to say a better translation would have been “don’t sentence as a Judge” or act like a judge (old testement style). Making a judgement and passing a sentence are 2 different things.

  • MimiRivera

    November 12, 2013 / at 1:10 pm

    Aint nothin but the truth :) Amen brother.

  • Jared

    November 12, 2013 / at 1:25 pm

    This is really useful in my life right now. I’ve recently been having discussion with my grandma who is not a believer, and I’m trying to show her God’s love. I will confess my sin to her and ask for her forgiveness, and she will forgive but she will rant about how bad I am at certain things. I know I am wrong because of the conviction I already feel from God, but it bothers me a little bit because she does not see her own sin. She just breaks me down. I smile and love her. I understand that I have issues with loving my family, but it bothers me inside a little bit when she doesn’t acknowledge her own sin and is so quick to acknowledge mine. This is some help though. Thanks

  • Ezra_of_Israel

    November 12, 2013 / at 1:31 pm

    Very good way of putting it and analysis of scripture. God bless you. What is Love? I’ve been spending a long time on that simple question……woah

  • PastorBenJohnson

    November 12, 2013 / at 1:34 pm

    Right on! To go along with this, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:12: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside.”

    It is our job as believers to hold our brothers and sisters in Christ accountable. But, we need to be examining ourselves throughout! Great blog Trip Lee!

  • harryyeboah

    November 12, 2013 / at 1:47 pm

    wow! learnt a lot. God bless..

  • EboniRenee

    November 12, 2013 / at 1:49 pm

    Beautifulluy & thoughtfully put. We needed this.

  • Tony

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:00 pm

    Thanks Trip, this is an important part of scripture to understand correctly. Thank you for this post. You have put into words what i have been thinking. I’m a youth pastor, and this is something ive been wanting to talk with my students about. I will be sure to use this post and expand on these points. Again thank you, for all that you do and will do. I pray that God will continue to bless you and your family.

  • wesley

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:04 pm

    Awesome. I’m so tired of people [Christians are at the forefront, along with many others] throwing this verse out like it trumps all. It’s used as a get out of ________ free card. Not at all what the writer was saying. Thanks for articulating.

  • Dayami

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:13 pm

    Awesome teaching here. I’m always blessed by your posts. I thank God for using you the way he does. You are not just called to make music, but to the pulpit.

    God bless u and your family!

  • Sharon C. James

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:14 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this thought. I will be sharing your post and pray that the many that have made this their banner, understand it exactly as Christ meant it, as well as Galatians 6:1. Stay blessed.

  • Christoph

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:17 pm

    I like to quote back Jesus in John 7:24 – “judge with a righteous judgement.” That disarms the objection and leads into an opportunity to explain what he means, as you did in your post.

  • Gloglo

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:18 pm

    This is What i was talking about with my dad and he said the exact same thing. God Bless You I hope that everyone will read this

  • MJ

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:19 pm

    Good word. I have heard that we should not condemn, but can righteously judge. As in I can say something about a friend who is “shacking up” but in doing so, I’m not being hypocritical because I’m not doing it.

  • MarkKing

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:26 pm

    Thanks for elaborating on this Trip. This is a very important subject tin this generation. So much entitlement exists. Love the irony you pointed out, too.

    I see the perception of each judgment as being the problem. Our competitive natures trick us into thinking that someone telling us we are wrong in some dirt if way is an attempt of exaltation. If we see this as a love gesture, it takes on a completely different dynamic.

    One more thing that I caught… You phrased this one particular part in a way that could confuse people. You said, ” Jesus doesn’t “mean” to say all judgment is wrong. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t “mean” that either.

    Just for clarity sake, perhaps a better way to phrase this is that “We shouldn’t interpret this as Jesus saying” all judgment is wrong.

    A quick read through, and someone might go from reading this to thinking, “Oh, Jesus didn’t mean to say that?” When I’m quite sure Jesus meant to say exactly what He said. It’s Ll in interpretation.

    I know what you meant. Just holding you to the highest if literary standards. I trust you understand why I said that.

    Appreciate your work (all if it, not just the music)! Keep grinding brother!

  • EMan

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:35 pm

    Deep truth being spoken on this one.
    God bless your ministry.
    I often think that when we fully understand our state of sinfulness, we then approach our neighbor with compassion and love.

  • anajcruz

    November 12, 2013 / at 2:42 pm

    i loved this!! really insightly, encouraging, aaaand convicting!!!
    awesome reminder of what it means to love one another!! thanks brother! God bless!!

  • WayneChristian

    November 12, 2013 / at 3:59 pm

    Only Jesus said it better! Trip you are a breath of fresh air! Thank you for your diligence! Well written as always! God Speed my brother!

  • JosiahCarter

    November 12, 2013 / at 7:31 pm

    Yes! Thank you so much for writing this! This has been on my mind so much lately, especially when I see that word “judge”. I’m definitely sharing this!

  • David

    November 12, 2013 / at 8:02 pm

    Thank you. One of the most accurate descriptions of that verse and what it means that I have seen. Every Christian should examine themselves through Gods eyes when speaking to another.

  • carlosAviles

    November 12, 2013 / at 8:50 pm

    Very encouraging. And I try and fail. I catch myself from time to time and I know I should look within first before I speak and help someone get back on a Holy path.
    Thanks Trip Lee.

  • modallas

    November 13, 2013 / at 1:53 am

    i’ve struggling with dis. Now i got a better understanding!!!

  • modallas

    November 13, 2013 / at 1:54 am

    i’ve bin struggling with it. Thank God i got a better understanding

  • TeriR

    November 13, 2013 / at 6:44 am

    It’s our motive behind what we say that makes the judgment of our brothers helpful or harmful. Am I thinking, “What you’re doing is wrong! The Bible says so. You need to fix it…” Or is it, “That’s gonna cause pain and I know what that’s like. I care about you and don’t want that for you…”

    Like Trip said, in other places we’re told clearly to judge false teachers.

    It’s clear we need the Holy Spirit’s discernment to make right judgments, so we should be connecting with Him before, during, and after!

    Another good point Trip made is, they won’t hear us even if our heart is in the right place, if we’re not living authentically before God and our brothers.

  • Junior

    November 13, 2013 / at 7:40 am

    Ive been struggling with this for a while now. But reading this article has made me feel 10 times better than before. Thanks Trip! God bless brother.

  • EJD

    November 13, 2013 / at 8:10 am

    Excellent article! “By their fruit, ye shall know them.” Clearly Christ whats us to be circumspect in reviewing others – most importantly, when we proclaim the Gospel, the first part is explaining how a person is separated from a Holy God due to sin (that’s a moral judgement!) Then we proclaim that faith in Jesus Christ (His redemptive work on the Cross and the Empty Tomb) is the answer to man’s separation from God, the Father! The Gospel message is incomplete if
    we leave out mankind’s LOST position (the Law judges us!) But Christ offers grace to us sinners. As John Newton wrote, “I once was LOST, but now am FOUND!”

  • Tatenda

    November 13, 2013 / at 10:57 am

    Amen bro. I live in Zimbabwe and that verse is even popular here!!! I preach the gospel and I have noticed more times than I care to remember that non-believers and Christians who are not living right use this verse as a shield against correction. It’s sad, really sad…

  • Bruno

    November 13, 2013 / at 11:48 am

    Thank you!

  • Darnell

    November 13, 2013 / at 3:18 pm

    I fully agree with that interpretation of judging according to Matthew 7. I also wanted to add to that by saying that we as Christians are not to “judge” the world or those not in Christ, but we “judge” the body of Christ or the church. God says that he himself “judges” the world and not us his children. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13

  • Stephen

    November 13, 2013 / at 5:27 pm


  • kate

    November 13, 2013 / at 7:06 pm

    Hey~ I am preaching this Sunday on judging (or not lol) and I am wondering if I can copy/paste some of your thoughts into my sermon? Thanks! Kate

  • Clayton

    November 13, 2013 / at 10:01 pm

    Very profound, God bless bro

  • Ofentse

    November 18, 2013 / at 1:38 pm

    I appreciate the love of God and the blessed words of wisdom from God through you guys… Much love

  • Tyler

    November 26, 2013 / at 1:07 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this. I think this message is so necessary for Christians in all walks of life to hear. We need to start loving each other the way Jesus called us to which means addressing areas that need to be addressed in compassion.

  • pelumi

    November 26, 2013 / at 5:56 pm

    this really helped me
    as always
    bless you Trip

  • Kathryn

    November 27, 2013 / at 8:51 pm

    Please pray that I will have an open heart to the truth; that I will know it and be set free; that I will have faith in Jesus and repentance of my sin. That I will receive his grace. That I won’t be offended by my need but by sin. Thank you.

  • Elvis

    December 4, 2013 / at 11:09 am

    is there anyway to share this word….its reaaly eye opening what you just said in these blog Trip…Continue the ministry (all of them)..

  • Michael

    January 29, 2014 / at 12:47 pm

    If you really think about it, “Don’t judge me.”, is actually judgemental.

    If someone is trying to help you, and you accuse them of judging you……technically, you are judging them. (And wrongly accusing them at that)

    Honestly, you can judge me if you want, I may need correction. (“Correct in love”) Just don’t judge me for my past or by anything but the Word.

  • Mercy

    February 19, 2014 / at 10:29 am

    Wow. This was a great post. Lately, I’ve been trying to remind myself of Matthew 7 but kind of forgot what it meant. And we do need to help each other out but not be harsh about it. I agree completely. It’s kinda sad seeing ppl harshly criticize other ppl and seeing the criticized feel broken. The criticizing are obviously not perfect but they seem to not even realize it. It’s upsetting. More people need to live by Matthew 7. And the last verse was great to. People aren’t going to want to walk a path where everyone on the sidelines are spitting on them.

  • Simon

    March 12, 2014 / at 1:07 pm

    Wow, inspiring words. I will read more from your posts! ;)

  • April

    March 23, 2014 / at 11:14 am

    Wow!!! Glad SOMEBODY has FINALLY spoken on this!!! I was just talking to someone in my office about this a couple of days ago!!!! Wonderful blog!!

  • kyle

    May 8, 2015 / at 9:10 am

    so here is a question for you. for the past few years i have been working on not jugding anyone for anything. as a addict pretty much everyone in the world jugdes you and this means that somehow these people now know everything about you. even what your thinking or what your gonna do or even how you will act or they may tell you how you feel about something. i really dont get how people can do this. its really bad. i have come to find out there are so many people out there that hate me, and they have never even met me. theres no way to control what pops into our head. mental pre jugdment can be used to prepare yourself personally for things you think may occure cause of what you notice about someone. but if you just pay good attention and can pick up on little things that show fact about someone is that still jugding? and then theres the question about assumption. by far the worst way to jugde somebody. i dont get it. even though you just told this person that you dont trust them to carry out some task because of (usually no reason) OTHER THEN thats just how i feel and is what I KNOW you will do. of course if this person has been known to fail, history can and will repeat, but to tell someone how they feel, think, or how there going to act is bullshit. its basically blind jugdment. and either that person will now feel encompetant and wont even try, or someone like me, will guentee to prove that person so wrong that they will never say that again. but even though you prove yourself time and time again. same assumptions. thoughts? i could go on all day.

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