Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): There are few verses quoted more frequently than the opening one of Matthew 7, and few less understood by those who are so ready to cite it and hurl it at the heads of those whom they ignorantly or maliciously suppose are contravening it. Let the servant of God denounce a man who is promulgating serious error, and there are those, boasting of their broadmindedness, who will say to him, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): This prohibition, like many others in our Lord’s discourse, if interpreted in its utmost latitude, would go to censure what is elsewhere commended.
J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): We must be careful not to strain [this sentence] beyond its proper meaning. It is frequently abused and misapplied by the enemies of true religion. It is possible to press the words of the Bible so far that they yield not medicine but poison.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): And there are people who are guilty of this―we must remember that if our interpretation of any one of these things contradicts the plain and obvious teaching of Scripture at another point, again it is obvious that our interpretation has gone astray. Scripture must be taken and compared with Scripture.
MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Our Saviour must not be understood here prohibiting any judgment, which is elsewhere in holy writ allowed…Nor is all judgment of our neighbour’s actions with reference to him forbidden: how can we reprove him for his errors, or restore him that is fallen, without a previous judgment of his actions?
J. C. RYLE: When our Lord says “Judge not,” He does not mean that it is wrong, under any circumstances, to pass an unfavourable judgment on the conduct and opinions of others―nor yet does He mean that it is wrong to reprove the sins and faults of others until we are perfect and faultless ourselves. Such an interpretation would contradict other parts of Scriptures: and it would make it impossible to condemn error and false doctrine; it would debar any one from attempting the office of a minister or a judge. The earth would be “given into the hands of the wicked,” Job 9:24; heresy would flourish; wrong-doing would abound.
ANDREW FULLER: If we judge not truth and error, good and evil, we cannot embrace the one and avoid the other…Paul and Silas are supposed to have judged Lydia faithful ere they entered her house, Acts 16:15; and Peter did not scruple to tell the sorcerer that he “perceived him to be in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity,” Acts 8:23. We are not only allowed, but directed, even in this discourse, to judge of men, as of trees, by their fruit, verses 16-20. It is part of our duty as ministers to declare from God’s word that they who live after the flesh will die; and that they who are carried away by strong delusions and the belief of a lie are in the utmost danger of damnation. They may be displeased with us for thinking so hardly of them, and may allege this passage as a reproof to our presumption.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): You are not to judge, but you are not to act without judgment.
A. W. PINK: “Judge not” unmercifully. While on the one hand we are certainly not, as far too many today appear to think, obliged to regard one who holds fundamental error or one who is thoroughly worldly as a good Christian, yet on the other hand the law of charity requires us to put the best construction we can on doubtful actions…God does not require us to call darkness light or evil good―we are not to go about with our eyes closed nor wink at sin when we see it, yet it is equally wrong for us to hunt for something to condemn and seize upon every trifle and magnify molehills into mountains. We are not to make a man an offender for a word.
ANDREW FULLER: The judgment which Christ forbids is that which arises not from good-will and a faithful discharge of duty, but from a censorious spirit, which takes pleasure in thinking and speaking evil of those about us, puts the worst construction upon actions of doubtful motive, and is severe in detecting smaller faults in another, while blinded to far greater ones in ourselves. It stands opposed by Luke to a forgiving spirit, chapter 6:27. It is therefore the judgment of rancour, selfishness, and implacability.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is a self-righteous spirit. Self is always at the back of it, and it is always a manifestation of self-righteousness, a feeling of superiority, and a feeling that we are all right while others are not. That then leads to censoriousness, and a spirit that is always ready to express itself in a derogatory manner. And then, accompanying that, there is the tendency to despise others, to regard them with contempt.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is common for those who are most sinful themselves, and least sensible of it, to be most forward and free in judging and censuring others; the Pharisees, who were most haughty in justifying themselves, were most scornful in condemning others.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I am not only describing the Pharisees, I am describing all who have the spirit of the Pharisee.
C. H. SPURGEON: Some men seem to think God ordained them to be celestial hedgehogs or spiritual porcupines.
ANDREW FULLER: They would seem to be great enemies to sin, whereas, if this were the case, they would begin with their own. It is therefore nothing better than selfish rancour, under the mask of zeal and faithfulness…To deter us from this evil spirit and practice, we are given to expect that if we judge we “shall be judged,” and that “with what measure we mete it shall be measured to us again.”
C. H. SPURGEON: If you impute motives, and pretend to read hearts, others will do the same towards you. A hard and censorious behaviour is sure to provoke reprisals.
JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): None are so shunned and censured as those that are most censorious.
ANDREW FULLER: Such is the ordinary course of things even in the present life. A censorious spirit towards others brings censure in abundance upon ourselves. Neither is it in this life only, nor chiefly, that such things will meet with a righteous retribution. If we go on condemning in this manner till death, we must expect to be condemned at a judgment-seat, from the decisions of which there is no appeal.
C. H. SPURGEON: Use your judgment, of course. But do not indulge the criticizing faculty upon others in a censorious manner, or as if you were set in authority, and had a right to dispense judgment among your fellows.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you.”―Awful words! So we may, as it were, choose for ourselves, whether God shall be severe or merciful to us.