Jesus & St Paul - to judge or not to judge?

Mt 7:1-2

"Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

1 Corinthians 4:3-5

It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself;

I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord.

Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within?
God will judge those outside. “Purge the evil person from your midst.”



We cannot judge what is in a person’s heart. Only God can do that. We can only judge a person’s actions as a good or bad act. This is an important distinction. To judge an action is not a judgment of the person. We should love the sinner (all of us are) and hate the sin. How often do we presume a bad behavior of another is intended to have it’s bad outcome; yet, when we make a mistake and hurt someone else we so quickly forgive ourselves because we did not intend this outcome? We cannot know the intentions of others by their actions.

Here’s a good article on this aspect of our faith:

Here’s a snippet:

Jesus told the Jews, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24).

He instructed his disciples what to do if someone sins against them:
Go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matt. 18:15-17)
It is not possible to follow Jesus’ instructions without being “judgmental” of another’s behavior.

Paul, too, exhorted right judgment of other Christians: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Drive out the wicked person from among you” (1 Cor. 5:12-13).

Also, “Do you not know that the saints * will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!…Shun immorality” (1 Cor. 6:2-18).

A look at the Old Testament reveals similar teaching: “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor” (Lev. 19:15).

Clearly, contrary to what many would prefer to believe, the Bible exhorts us to rightly judge the behavior of others. The Catholic Church teaches likewise but cautions us just as Jesus did the disciples:
Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: “Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.” (CCC 2477-2478)*

"and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. "

That is the important part, Jesus is not telling us never to judge that would be ridiculous we make judgements every day and couldn’t get through life without doing so, think for example how you chose someone to marry or when you vote in an election for example.

What Christ is saying is judge how you would like to be judged, that is with mercy and justice rather than with harshness and hatred.

He says a similar thing when He says:

“And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner.” Luke 6:31

I’d also throw in the question of salvation - you can identify (“judge”) an act that someone does as sinful, but you can’t pronounce judgement over someone’s salvation - that’s God’s job alone (“Solus Deus”)

Thanks for the insight!

I think there is a lot of confusion because different words being deployed to convey the same meaning and the same word having different meanings. In this particular case the same word “judge” is used in the meaning of “condemn or pass judgment”, “discern” and “decide”.

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