Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. ~ Luke 6:37 (NLT)
I’ve heard this verse quoted, at least the first sentence, many, many times throughout my life. Generally, it is quoted to shut up a Christian who is telling somebody that what they are doing is wrong. So, the offending person proudly states “Do no judge others…” End of discussion. In their mind, they are saying, I can do what I want, and you have no say in it. It’s a way to deflect from what the actual issue is – their behavior.
But, today, I want to reclaim this verse. It was never intended to be something that would prevent others from mentioning that our behavior is sinful. The verse, in fact, has very little to do with behavior. Instead, it has to do with the heart. It has to do with hate.
The idea of judging someone doesn’t mean that we are not to look deeper at someone’s motives or actions. Indeed, we should judge what someone is up to. That person sneaking into an open window in the middle of the night, dressed in black who doesn’t live there? You can probably judge correctly that he is up to no good. Instead, this verse is talking about eternal judgment. We have no right to judge whether or not someone is worthy of eternal salvation. That authority has been granted to Jesus Christ, and Him alone. (James 4:12)
Additionally, this verse calls us not to condemn. So, what is condemnation? Simply put, it is telling someone that they are unworthy of saving. As judgment says yes or no, condemnation is the explanation as to the why. We are not to condemn others, seeing them as unworthy of God’s salvation. No one is truly worthy of anything God has given us. Yet, anyone who turns their life to Him can receive His grace, mercy, and salvation. (John 3:16)
Finally, Jesus takes this verse from what we should not do to what we must do. Forgive. We aren’t supposed to hold someone eternally accountable – that’s God’s job. No, we don’t have to be best friends with them. But, we are called to forgive them. Jesus is so serious about this command that there is an inherent threat tied to it. If we forgive, we are forgiven. The flipside however is pretty harsh. If we refuse to forgive, we won’t be forgiven.
Our job is to show compassion, grace, mercy, friendship. Leave the judgment to God.