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Rethinking: Judge Not

Examining the words of Jesus in (Matt. 7:1-5) can often be complicated, misunderstood, and misapplied, if applied at all.

When Jesus says, "Judge not, that you be not judged," does He mean that we are never to make judgments? Although this is how His words are often used, this understanding would contradict what Jesus says next. "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5).


To help understand the words of Jesus, we need to put His words in their proper context. Without context, it is easy to misapply or misunderstand what people are saying, including Jesus.

The context of Jesus' words is the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). Within this teaching, Jesus is concerned about sincerity, honesty, and integrity. People of Jesus' kingdom are sincere, genuine, and without hypocrisy (ref. Matt. 5:20). Some of the Pharisees, in Jesus' day, lived their lives based on a double standard. They were people who "kept up appearances" (ref. Matt. 5:20; Matt. 6:1; Matt. 6:5). They had the appearance of keeping God's word, but their motives were not sincere. In keeping up appearances, they had neglected the weightier matters of Scripture, love, justice, mercy, and forgiveness. In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is addressing the more serious matters, the motives of the heart.