It’s a simple rule of nature. If you plant a kernel of corn you will get corn. Assuming that a healthy stalk of corn produces two ears that would be about 1600 kernels from that one seed. That same multiplication effect applies to every plant that I’m aware of, even thistles and nettles. It is that multiplication effect Jesus has in mind when He says, “do not judge.”
It would appear from the Gospel record that Jesus said this more than once. In Matthew’s record of the Sermon on the Mount we read, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1–2, NASB95) But we have a tendency to think that this is a one for one exchange. If I judge someone harshly that I will be judged harshly in return, whether by them or by someone else. But there’s more to Jesus warning than meets the eye.
Let’s first talk about judging and what Jesus meant. The plain meaning is to judge with a view determining guilt and punishment. Judging to condemn. There’s a world of difference between offering a warning to someone and condemning them. That is where Jesus takes this in Matthew as He gives us the visual of judging the speck in our brother’s eye while we have a beam in our own. Bottom line – we’re not the judge, God is. We are simply witnesses.
This doesn’t mean that we won’t be accused of judging. Simply being a lighthouse for Jesus will cause others to feel convicted. We must, however, be on guard against pointing the finger of judgment. Oh how the church has stumbled at times on that one. Pointed fingers of judgment have kept many from receiving God’s grace. But there are times when we are not being judgmental and folks will still feel judged. That’s not on us and it may very well be the work of the Holy Spirit in their heart.
There is more to Jesus’ warning against judgment than we may know. There is a similar command in Luke. Jesus says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:37–38, NASB95)
Many times we lean into verse 38, “give, and it will be given…” without realizing that Jesus is lumping judgment and condemnation into that same multiplication factor. Our judgment of others is not returned one for one but is also “pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” What you plant you will reap many times over unless God grace intervenes. Plant kernels of judgment reap bushels in return. Plant condemnation reap a harvest of condemnation. Plant kernels of grace gather a wagon load of grace. Get the picture? Jesus didn’t only say “do not judge” because it is not our place but also because of the ever-multiplying ramifications.
Sidebar – Given this, I have to wonder if some of the current hostility in the world against Christ’s people is, at least in part, because we’ve (speaking broadly and not personally) have sown seeds of judgment.
In considering this same topic Paul concluded, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13, NASB95) We may feel that our judgment is justified, perhaps it is, but how will God judge us when our judgment makes it harder for someone else to receive God’s grace?
Just consider this one thing. What would you have poured out, pressed down, shaken together, and running over in your life? Judgment or grace? Condemnation or mercy? Rejection or love?
Jesus says do not judge one another