What does it mean to "judge," and why does the Bible say to "judge not"?

Christ said, "Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). What did He mean? Is all judging wrong?


Jesus Christ said in His Sermon on the Mount: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew:7:1-2). Therefore, many assume that it is wrong to pass judgment of any sort, and that all people should be allowed to do whatever they feel is right.

Strong's Concordance notes that the word translated "judge" in Matthew:7:1 can also mean "condemn." What Christ was saying was that, as we are incapable of seeing a person's heart or knowing his or her relationship with God, we are not to take the place of God in making judgments about someone's motives or eternal salvation. And we should be humble, knowing our own weaknesses and sins.

However, in other sections of the Bible, Christ says very clearly, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew:12:34) and "a tree is known by its fruits" (Matthew:12:33). While we cannot see hearts, we can see—and judge—actions. There are times God calls on us to discern others' actions because of their effects on us. For example, the Bible tells us to avoid angry people and those whose sins may rub off on us (Proverbs:22:24; 1 Corinthians:5:11-12). Hebrews:5:14 tells us that the spiritually mature are "those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

We are not to judge where a person stands with God, because we are simply incapable of doing so. But we must be able to "discern both good and evil" in the actions of ourselves as well as others in order to grow in wisdom and avoid falling into problems ourselves.

For an additional study tool, please read our booklet The New Covenant: Does it Abolish God's Law?


JSal's picture

We are not to judge or condemn someone to hell. People can change and be brought out of the sin we think that are in. However, we are to use good judgment. If you see a group of guys in a dark alley with hoods on and carrying weapons, good judgment would say to avoid them. It's common sense. Be blessed and keep your eyes on the Lord God through Jesus the Christ.

Login/Register to post comments

More Information

This post has favorited 1 times

Ask a Question

Ask a Question

Printer-friendly version

Got a question?  If you don't see your question here, ask our team of caring, dedicated ministers for a personal answer. (Please allow a week or so for an e-mail response.)

4 + 14 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

© 1995-2015 United Church of God, an International Association | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. All correspondence and questions should be sent to info@ucg.org. Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to webmaster@ucg.org.

You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.