Improper Judging


Dr. John Hoole – October 8, 2017




Matthew 7:1-2 NKJV


1.      "Judge not, that you be not judged.

2.      For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.


In our last lesson we spent some time addressing what Christ was not saying in these verses.  There are probably more that could be added to my list, but I want to talk about three things that Jesus was NOT saying in Matthew 7:1


Each of these require some sort of judgment or discernment.


I also want to review from last week’s lesson the Scriptural evidence for proper judging and assessment.


         1.      Paul takes a public stand on the issues of immorality – 1 Corinthians 5:4-5.


         2.      Timothy is instructed to take a stand in Ephesus – 1 Timothy 1:3-7.


         3.      We are to refuse to invite false teachers into our home – 2 John 1:8-11.


         4.      We are told to earnestly contend for the faith – Jude 3.


         5.      Paul tells believers to watch for those causing discord – Romans 16:17.


What we have shown thus far, both from the context of the Sermon on the Mount, as well as many other Passages, is that Matthew 7:1 could not possibly be forbidding any and all forms of critical analysis or the need to distinguish between right and wrong views of doctrinal and moral issues.


If Jesus was NOT forbidding sound judgment and careful examination, in all its forms, what did Jesus mean by Judge not….?  In a word, “censoriousness” – being both jury and judge.  The follower of Jesus is still a ‘critic’ in the sense of using his powers of discernment, but not a ‘judge’ in the sense of being censorious – or judgmental.


The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people and enjoys actively seeking out their failings.  He puts the worst possible construction on what he/she perceives their motives might be.  And they are ungenerous towards their mistakes.  The censorious person is one who:


         •        is severely (hyper) critical

         •        tends towards censure of others

         •        expresses denunciation of others




How do we know the difference?  Where is the line between judging others improperly vs. properly?  This is an occasion where it might help us to understand the various Greek words which are translated “judge, judging, judgment, etc.” -- in the same way that understanding the various Greek words for “LOVE” help us.


The reason this might help is because there is only one Greek word used to represent improper judging of another person.  That word is “krino”. It means: To pass judgment on, to sentence;  to mentally, judicially, or biblically condemn; to conclude, to decide, to determine. It has a dozen or so shades of meaning that must be decided from the context.


There are three Greek words that describe the scope and action of proper discernment.  They are:


          Dokimazo      …to test, to examine; to interpret, to discover, to approve; to prove, to demonstrate.


          Anakrino       …to ask questions, to examine; to evaluate, to scrutinize, to investigate; to search out.


          Diakrino        …to make a distinction (between persons), to weigh thoroughly each part.


We will look at the various Scriptural uses of these words in a few minutes.  But, firstly, one thing should be obvious from these short definitions.  “Judging” focuses more on the person than on what they did.  As a result, condemnation occurs.  “Discerning” looks more at the activity than who did it.


Let’s go back to the two verses we showed side-by-side a few minutes ago, where one forbids us from judging another person….and the other allows, even instructs us to make proper judgments.


Matthew 7:1 NKJV


1...    "Judge (krino) not, that you be not judged (krino).


1 Corinthians 2:15 (NKJV)


         “…he who is spiritual judges (anakrino) all things, yet he himself is rightly judged (also anakrino) by no one.”


In Matthew 7:1, the Greek word “Krino” is used twice.  It is referring to judging another person’s motives which no mere human can know of another.  Thus, it speaks about “passing sentence upon” or “judicially condemning” a person.  And we are instructed with no uncertain words:  DON’T DO IT!!


With the last phrase “or you too will be judged” or as in the KJV “lest you be judged.” Jesus is reminding us that we are not the final court.  To judge another person in a censorious, unmerciful manner is to play God.


In John 5:22, Jesus says,


“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son”


During the millennial kingdom Christ will share some of that judgment with us (Matthew 19:28,  1 Cor. 6:2), but until that time we blaspheme God whenever we take upon ourselves the role of judge.


         Paul asks, in Romans 14:4, “Who are you to judge (Krino) the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls.”




The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1 do not forbid the requirement of each Christian to assess the spiritual atmosphere around them.


                   •        to discern between right and wrong.

                   •        to distinguish between that which is righteous or unholy.

                   •        to evaluate the benefit of other people’s actions.


But because each of us will tend to think our own discerning flows from true spiritual and righteous concern,…when in fact it might not then we need to examine the Scriptures to further define what improper judgment really is.




There are at least six Scriptural indicators of judging which is improper -- where we are judgmental, severely critical and fault-finding.


You or I are being censorious, or inappropriately critical, when:



1.      When outward appearance is the prime source of our information


John 7:24  (NKJV)


24     "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."




Things are not always as they appear on the surface.  At best our knowledge is only partial (which we will deal with more fully in our next indicator of improper judging of others).


The only way that any of us can judge righteously and according to truth is if we are seeing things through the Lord’s eyes.  Man will often judge by the outward appearance of another’s actions, while God looks at the motives and intents of the heart that caused the man to act in the way that he did.


1 Samuel 16:7  (NIV)   says……


……“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."


We need to often remind ourselves that there is always another side to every case.  If we really possessed all the facts – if we really knew what motivated a person to do what they did, we might be a little less harsh with our criticism.  But, even then our best judgment is still fallible.


And because of that, we need to take heed to 1 Corinthians 4:5  (NIV)


5       Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.


It is the Lord who is to judge……not us.  And He will look at the motives of our hearts, not on appearance.  It is not for us to usurp God’s throne of judgment or pass a final verdict.


2.      When not all the facts are considered


I read about an owner of a manufacturing plant who decided to make a surprise tour of the shop.  Walking through the warehouse he noticed a young man just lazily leaning up against some packing crates with his hands in his pocket.  The boss walked up to him and angrily said, “Just how much are you paid a week?”  Well, the young man’s eyes got rather big, and he said, “Three hundred bucks.”  The boss pulled out his wallet, peeling off three one hundred bills, gave it to him, and said, “Here’s a week’s pay.  Now get out of here and don’t ever come back!”  Without a word the young man stuffed the money into his pocket and took off.  The warehouse manager was standing nearby staring in amazement.  The boss walked over to him and said, “Tell me how long that guy has been working for us/”  The manager said, “He didn’t work here, he was just delivering a package.”  We must not presume to know all the facts.


We do not and cannot know all the facts.  We see the issues, but probably are ignorant of all the factors involved.


The only righteous judge whose judgment is perfect and is according to truth is the Lord Jesus Christ.  The problem with man judging another man is that our judgments are many times tainted because of our many different opinions.  Our opinions are shaped to a large degree by our past life, environment, and belief systems.  And most of the time we are not seeing the whole picture.


As we showed earlier, in 1 Cor. 2:15, we have a different Greek word than that used in Matthew 7:1.




Here we are informed that a spiritual person does not condemn or pass judgment upon another, but rather, examines the data, investigates, discerns with care and love, searches out.


The Bible consistently forbids hasty judgments that do not have full knowledge of the heart or of the facts.


Proverbs 18:13 NKJV


13     He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.


                   Sometimes what appears to be wrong is nothing of the sort.


3.      When the person’s worth is diminished by our judgment


When we are fault-finding and judgmental, we are most often using words that diminish another person’s character or worth.  We ought never to do that.  I could spend a whole series of lessons on this point alone.  Instead, I will refer you to only one Scripture and make a few comments.


Philippians 4:8   (KJV)


8       Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


1.  TRUE (Accurate)

         Will what I say give an accurate picture of the situation?


2.  HONEST (Honorable)

         Can the things I say be repeated without hurting someone?


3.  JUST (Proper)

         Is it appropriate to say it at this time?


4.  PURE (Uncontaminated)

         Is what I am about to say motivated by any pride or selfishness?


5.  LOVELY (Pleasant)

         Will my words brighten the lives of all who hear them?


6.  GOOD REPORT (Esteem)

         Will my words damage anyone’s reputation?


7.  VIRTUE (Moral Excellence)

         Will my words motivate others to Godly living?


8.  PRAISE (Praiseworthy)

         Will my words edify all who hear them?


Before making any judgment, even though you may think you are discerning in a righteous manner, ask yourself the following questions, as it relates to this verse.


4.  When we look more on one’s faults rather than their strengths


Let’s look at a few more Scriptures which deal with this facet of judging


1Thessalonians 5:21  (NKJV)


21     Test (anakrino) all things; hold fast what is good.


The same word translated “judge” in 1 Corinthians 2:15 is translated “test” here.


Did you notice that last phrase?         “Hold fast what is good.”  After “testing” or “examining” or “proving” all things, we are to hold onto only that which is good.  Is it your tendency to more quickly notice the wrong things that others do?  Do you focus on, or latch onto, those things that, on the surface, appear improper?


This verse instructs us this way: “After proving (anakrino) – that is, following much examination and investigation --- after the facts have been sifted, the only things left in our hands should be those items which are good.


The Lord knew this would not be an easy thing for most – if not all – of us --- so he uses the words “hold fast” -- grasp tenaciously….with resolve…..only that which is good.


5.      When we more quickly point a finger than to extend an helping hand


Abe Lincoln once said “He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.”


If the Holy Spirit reveals shortcomings of other Christians to us, it is for one purpose, and only one purpose.  The purpose of God is always to restore the fallen back to fellowship.  If we are bringing correction in a condemning and accusing manner, then we are doing the work of the accuser of the brethren.


A very important parallel to our text in Matthew is Luke’s account of similar teaching.


Luke 6:36-37 NKJV


36     Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

37     Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.


James also warns us against making judgments without mercy.


James 2:13  (NIV)


13     because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!


God would rather show us mercy than judgment and this should be our attitude towards our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  When we see our brother or sister wounded and dying, we are faced with a choice of either judging them or doing something about their condition.  God is calling us to heal the brokenhearted and to bring the backslider back home.


Galatians 6:1-2  (NAS)


1       Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

2       Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.


When we see someone err or stumble, our first thoughts should never be one of judgment --- of accusation, of point the finger --- but rather, our first thought should be about restoring that person to fellowship.


The Greek word rendered “restore” is used to describe the mending of torn fishing nets (Matt. 4:21).  The ancient Greeks also used this word for the setting of broken bones.  In Ephesians 4:12 the same term is used for “equipping” of the saints.  Clearly, the term has the positive implication of healing and restoration.


We are urged to restore believers overpowered by sin.  Don’t become a pawn in the hands of the “accuser of the brethren.”  The church should be a place of healing, not accusations.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.


6.      When we haven’t first examined ourselves.


Don’t Find Fault

Don’t find fault with the man who limps
Or stumbles along life’s road,
Unless you have worn the shoes he wears,
Or struggled beneath his load.

There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt,
Though hidden away from our view,
The burden he bears, if placed on your back
Might cause you to stumble, too.

Don’t be too hard on the man who errs,
Or pelt him with wood or stone,
Unless you are sure—yea, double sure,
That you have no fault of your own.

Source Unknown


Matthew 7:3-5  (NIV)


3       "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4       How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5       Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.


All of us have the fatal tendency to exaggerate the faults of others and to minimize the gravity of our own.  We seem to find it impossible when comparing ourselves with others, to be strictly objective and impartial.  Jesus strongly instructs us that rather than looking at others with a critical eye and judging them, we should look to ourselves and judge ourselves.


In these verses, Jesus calls us to evaluate our own lives before we even attempt to help others evaluate their lives.  Actually, only by evaluating ourselves will be able to resist the temptation to evaluate others.


The illustration Jesus gives us here is a rather humorous one.  It speaks of a person trying to take a splinter out of someone else’s eye when he has a huge log sticking out of his own.  Picture, if you will, a person with a beam of wood approximately six feet in length protruding from his eye.  As he turns his head from side to side, this beam of wood flattens people right and left.


How is that sort of person ever going to be able to even see a splinter in someone else’s eye?  As they tried to approach the other person, the log sticking out of their own eye would knock the other person flat.  It is obviously ridiculous that someone in that condition should criticize someone else for having a splinter.  This is the picture Jesus paints.


Obviously, what He is saying is that we should first look to ourselves.  Evaluate our own life.    Look at our own faults.  Often, we live under an illusion that our hearts are right and pure when they are not.  Until we see our own heart, it will be easy to judge others.


We must first examine our own hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to uncover any areas of darkness before we can accurately see the faults and shortcomings of other believers.


Notice first that Jesus is NOT saying we aren’t to help remove that which is hindering our brother from seeing clearly.  But He does say that before we can effectively help our brother or sister, we must remove any hindrance to our own vision.  If not, we are called a hypocrite.


However, once we have examined ourselves and removed that which hinders our sight, we have an obligation to help others see clearly.


All of this requires the right balance between humility and helpfulness.  Humility  - to recognize our own shortcomings and inability to see….thus inability to lead.  Helpfulness – having a desire to assist your brother and sister to grow in the Lord.


I believe we have the prerequisite for maintaining that balance given to us in Psalm 51.


Psalms 51:1-3 NKJV


1       Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

2       Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.

3       For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.


Psalms 51:10-13 NKJV


10     Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11     Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12     Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

13     Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.


Did you notice the sequence?  David first looked inward, and recognized his own errors.  He requested God to take care of that situation in his heart.  THEN David says he will be able to help others who have erred the ways of God and then, and only then, could he expect sinners to be converted.


A similar situation is found in one statement Jesus makes to Peter.  Jesus said that when Peter recovered from his own moral defection, he could then “strengthen his brothers” (Luke 22:32).


Let’s look at a few more Scriptures on this issue of self-examination.  Earlier we looked at Galatians 6:1-2.  The subject of restoring our brothers and sisters back into fellowship doesn’t stop really with  verse 2.


In verse 4  (NAS), he continues:


4       But let each one examine (dokimazo – prove) his own work,…


The point is that it is hard to help someone when we have a bigger problem than they do.  It is impossible to help someone else when we are blind to our own sins.  Before I try to help someone, I must remind myself that I am a sinner saved by grace.


Again, I state that this issue of self-examination is no small issue.  This issue in every Christian’s life was included as a prerequisite to observing the Lord’s Supper.  1 Corinthians 11:28 (NKJV) But let a man examine (dokimazo) himself, and so let him eat the bread and drink the cup.  Actually, the English rendering of this verse softens the Greek considerably.  The Greek stresses that every person has to examine him or herself before partaking.  There really is no choice in the matter – self-examination is a command of the Lord.


These verses impress upon us the importance of examining, or testing, or proving ourselves.  Why is this important?  The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 11:31 (NKJV)For if we would judge (diakrino) ourselves, we should not be judged (krino).


This says that if we would examine ourselves,…discern our own motives, weight thoroughly our own inclinations, scrutinize our won actions and tendencies --- then we would not be condemned.


Matthew 7:1-2 also gives us ample reason for judging ourselves prior to assessing the actions of anyone else.  Verse 2 says that our unloving criticism will return on our own heads --- It will boomerang, and the measure we use for gauging the faults of others will be the measure used by both God and man on our own conduct.


The person with a critical spirit is inviting a lot of criticism.  It is not possible to experience God’s mercy in all its fullness without exercising mercy toward others.  The Bible clearly teaches us that we cannot truly obtain mercy if we do not offer it to others.


Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount – in the Beatitudes -- we are told that those who give mercy will obtain mercy (Matt. 5:7).  And later in this sermon (in 6:14 – the Lord’s Prayer), Jesus again teaches the same truth where He says that if we forgive, our Father will forgive us our debts.


And notice what Jesus says in Luke 19:22: Out of your own mouth will I judge (krino) you. You wicked servant,


When we have truly examined and judged our own actions and motives, we will be less likely to desire judging others.  When we truly see ourselves, we become aware that we need mercy, not judgment.


Do you want others to give you the benefit of the doubt?  Then give it to them.  Do you want others to think well of you, even when they do not understand you?  Then do the same for them.


Do you want others to criticize you or encourage you?  If you want encouragement rather than criticism, try to be an encourager yourself.


Jesus calls us to love one another, to seek the highest good for one another, and to build up one another.  Being critical and judgmental tears others down.  A critical spirit discourages others.  Jesus deals severely with this kind of attitude.  It has no place in the church.  It has no place in the life of a Christian.


If you find this attitude in yourself, ask God to give you the ability to take a good long look at yourself.  Ask Him to show you your own heart and your hang-ups.  Ask Him to enable you to pull the log out of your own eye first.