“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
Many times Jesus made powerful statements to make a memorable point. Here the clear point is not to condemn others if we don’t want to be condemned. Verse 2 adds, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged.” Earlier Christ had explained that we need to be forgiving and merciful if we want to have God’s forgiveness and mercy (Matthew 6:14-15).
Does this mean we should never try to discern the right or wrong of a situation? No, because if we did not make judgments based on God’s truth, we would not be able to discern the unholy and the false prophets Jesus went on to warn us about (Matthew 7:6, 15). We are to know them by judging their fruits—the results of their actions (verse 16). When we judge, we must use righteous judgment: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
We must correctly discern wrong (sin) from right choices, and choose right. But we must not condemn others, realizing that we also have sinned. We, like God, must desire that all will repent and be forgiven (2 Peter 3:9).
For more about this, see “What Did Jesus Mean by ‘Judge Not’?”