"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matt. 7:1–2)

Matthew 7:1 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Yet, it is also one of the most misquoted and is often used to squelch attempts by Christians to share the gospel. “Why are you talking to me about my sin when the Bible says, ‘Do not judge.’?” So, what does this verse mean and how does it apply to our evangelism efforts? 

The key is what Jesus said in verse 2, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, a religious group that insisted that the law of God be observed. They actually added to Scripture by coming up with their own regulations. They proclaimed a lifestyle of religion rather than a relationship with the Lord. Jesus warned them that they would be subject to the same judgment with which they judged others. If they were harsh in their judgment of others, He would be harsh in His judgment of them. He would examine them by the same spirit and standard that they examined others.

How do we avoid the type of judgmental attitude Jesus was describing? First, be on guard against a critical spirit. Some Christians are very critical and are blind to their own sin. People pick up on those self-righteous attitudes and may be open to Christ, but not open to us.

Second, remember that we are pointing to Jesus and His righteousness, not ourselves and our self-righteousness. An attitude of superiority has no place in evangelism.  Romans 3:23 is clear that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (emphasis added). Christians are not children of God because they are better than anyone. They are children of God because they have received Christ and His righteousness by faith.

Finally, keep in mind that we are not championing a set of rules, but the Ruler of the universe. Our lifestyle cannot save anyone. Only Christ and the eternal life He offers can deliver someone from the penalty of their sin.