Perhaps one of the most misused passages in the Bible is the beginning of Matthew chapter 9 where Jesus says:
“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.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
This passage teaches us not to judge other people because God, not man, is the judge of the whole human species. We have no right to compare ourselves to other people as being better than them.
However, we can warn them if they are breaking God’s law, and in some cases we are required to do so (I Corinthians 6:3-5). Jesus Himself in this very same passage makes it clear to us that we are to warn other people against sin:
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is 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.” (Matthew 7:2-5)
The first thing that Jesus is dealing with in this passage is personal hypocrisy. As human beings we tend to exaggerate the sins of other people while downplaying our own. Before we approach anyone about sin in their own life we need to think about what we would do in their situation, and see if there is any sin in our own life that we need to repent of first.
However, once this is done we are still supposed to “remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (verse 5). We are supposed to interfere in our brother’s life and help him deal with sin in his life, even if it is very small. If our brother is truly sinning it is not right for us to leave the sin in his life and not try to help him deal with it.
Most unbelievers and many Christians used this passage to say that we can do whatever we want and that no one can tell us that we are doing anything wrong. This is not what the passage says at all! This passage was meant to encourage introspection, not discourage it. Do not use this passage as an excuse to keep on sinning when a brother exposes your sin. It was not meant for that. Any Christian who uses any part of the Bible as an excuse to keep on sinning is closing their ears to what the Bible really means (Romans 6:1-2).