Matthew 7:1 is the most misquoted verse in the Bible primarily because many people stop reading where this verse ends. That isn’t how this passage is meant to be read though. Matthew 7:2 goes on to explain the meaning of the verse isn’t that we are not to judge other’s behavior, but that we will be judged by the same merit that we judge. So we are to be careful to judge in love and not condemnation.
The same way that Jesus judges the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8, we are to judge others. He does not condemn her for her act. In fact, He turns away all of the people who came there wishing to condemn her. He judges her acts in love and tells her to “go now and leave your life of sin.” He doesn’t say that the crowd shouldn’t judge her actions as wrong, He tells her to sin no more. We are to be like Christ in this aspect and be sure to help others see their sin and help them to stay away from it; in love.
We Christians are letting bullies make us too timid to speak out on sin and call it for what it is. We are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, and letting them use the Bible against us by misinterpreting it. Timidity is not a Christian attribute though. God’s Word proclaims that the righteous are as bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1) We stand on the authority of the Creator of the world. If we aren’t bold enough to say what is wrong, who will be?
When Jesus talked to the religious leaders of the day, He wasn’t quiet and worrying about political correctness, He boldly called them out for what they were doing wrong. In those times, religious leaders had a lot of political power and could have Him arrested and killed with no real evidence against Him, (which they ultimately did) but Jesus unabashedly held to the truth. He didn’t do it in condemnation though, He did it in love.
Our approach should differ on who we are talking to though too. You will notice that when Christ talked to people who weren’t already believers, He was much more patient in His approach. It was the ones who knew better that He reserved His most harsh comments for. He still approached them with love to let them know the dangerous road they were going down and leading others down though.
This isn’t to say we all need to turn into the Westboro Baptist Church. Jesus would not call us to hate-mongering and protesting people who are hurting. We should be bold in our approach, but keep it in a loving way. We need to be there for those that are hurting to lift them up, but if we tell them that their sin is ok, we are only hurting them more. Tactfulness should still be a large part of our approach. Jesus helped the hurting regardless of whether they had caused their own hurting or not.
It’s important that we let others know that we aren’t perfect either, and be humble enough to accept criticism ourselves. We can’t expect others to be receptive to what we say if we aren’t listening to them too. Criticism is essential for growth. Stacking what they say against Scripture, though, is a must. The world’s perception of Christians is very perverted, and we should look to God’s Word for our growth and put more weight with it than to criticism of those who don’t know Him.
So take the time to ask God for boldness today. It isn’t an easy thing and it takes a lot of faith and courage to speak out on these things. Prepare for backlash and to be hated by some because the example we are told to live by was hated by the world too. That is ok though. If you are acting in love and within the guidelines of God’s Word, their opinion of you is a reflection of their character and not yours. Your identity is protected in Christ alone, not in the view of your peers. If you ask Him, He will give you the boldness to tell others about His glory and what He has done in your life.