If you have been a Christian for a while, you’ve probably been accused of violating Matthew 7, in which Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Many take this to mean that Christians have no place calling out sin, because we ourselves our sinners. They use it as a smokescreen to get out of an important responsibility or to try to stop you from fulfilling yours.
If it’s true that Matthew 7 forbids us from addressing sin, then why does Jesus provide instructions on what to do when a brother sins against you in Matthew 18?
What does Jesus mean, then? Jesus isn’t condemning all judging. He’s condemning hypocritical judging. This is like when in prison, the inmates beat up and rape child molesters, even when they themselves are murderers and rapists. This is not a command to not judge, per se, but a command to not be self-righteously judgmental.
So, how do we do that? How do we bring our brother’s sins to them (Matthew 18)? How do we bring back a sinner from his wandering (James 5)? How do we expose unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11)? How do we do all that without violating Matthew 7?
First of all, search your heart and make sure you don’t have a plank in your eye, a sin you have stubbornly refused to repent of. Jesus says, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Then, make sure that you’re addressing sin with the right heart, for the right reasons. We want to gain our brothers (Matthew 18:15). We want to save his soul from death (James 5:20). We want their spirits to be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5). If you’re not doing it with a compassionate heart that desires others to be right with The Lord, fix that first, by His grace.
With that said, with the right heart, do indeed bring sins to your brother. Do indeed gather the wanderer. Do indeed expose the works of darkness. Don’t be held back by an improper application of Jesus’s words.
Ironically, when someone says, “You shouldn’t judge,” they are themselves making a moral judgment. That is their own plank.