“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
The word translated “judge” often means to condemn. It means to come to a negative conclusion about another person and then to condemn them. That is what Jesus is forbidding. Let me be a little more specific about this.
First, we are not to pass final judgment on any person. Final judgment belongs to the Lord. We are not in the condemning business. If anyone needs to be condemned, God himself can take care of that. We should have no part in it.
Second, we are not to judge the motives of others. The Bible says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). Often we are quick to come to negative conclusions about others based on why we think they did something. But try as we might, we see only the outside. God alone sees the heart.
We can judge what people do; we cannot judge why they do it.
We can judge what people say; we cannot judge why they say it.
Only God can judge the hidden secrets of the heart. Leave that judgment to him. You don’t even know your own heart, much less the heart of anyone else. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Sometimes when little children have been caught disobeying and you ask them why they did it, they will reply tearfully, “I don’t know.” It’s a profound truth. We are so wicked by nature that we don’t know why we do what we do. All of us can remember times when we did or said something foolish and looking back we can honestly say, “I don’t know why I did something stupid like that.” But if we can’t understand our own heart, how can we ever presume to understand anyone else.
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