Does the Bible really say "Do not judge"?
Or, are we taking a few words that are part of a larger teaching and using them out of context?
It's something we hear often in Christian circles or even thrown at us by non-Christians. "You're not supposed to judge." I believe we're actually misunderstanding and, as a result misquoting, Scripture here.
What does the Bible actually say?
(I realize this next part is quoting a fair bit of Scripture one after another, but without them the rest of the post won't make as much sense. Please read through the passages.)
"Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly." -John 7:24
"Do not judge, or you to will be judged. For in the same way you judge other, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother's eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." -Matthew 7:1-5
"Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block in the way of a brother or sister." -Romans 14:13
"Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart." -1 Corinthians 4:5
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. . . . Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else." -Galatians 6:1 & 4
As I read these passages of Scripture and look at them within the overall message of Scripture, I wonder if, in saying that all of these passages say "do not judge," we're missing what the bigger picture is. All of these passages say we need to be looking at our own lives first, before we say anything to another brother or sister in Christ.
We're not being told that we shouldn't say something to another believer about and area where things might need to changed in their lives. We're being cautioned to make sure we've been dealing with our own stuff first. We can't and shouldn't call others on their stuff if we're avoiding dealing with the stuff in our own lives.
Our job is also not to look for areas where we can point out the sin or other issue in the life of another believer. We're not supposed to be going hunting for those things. If that's what we're doing, then people may be right in telling us not to judge.
All of these passages also speak to situations with another believer. We're not told to do the same with those who don't claim to be Christians - only with other Christians.
To go back to the question I asked at the beginning: Does the Bible actually say "Do not judge"?
I think that is just a small part of what Scripture actually says, and to only quote that part misses the point. It's not about never saying something to another believer - it's about making sure we're dealing with our own stuff first, and not running around looking for things to call our in the life of another Christian.