David L. Turner commenting on Matthew 7:1-6, “Judge not, so that you will not be judged…”
Matthew 7:1 is certainly one of the most misquoted verses in the NT. The cause of ethical relativism is often supported by this text. But the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount clearly would not deny the existence of moral absolutes from which one can make absolute statements about right and wrong, good and evil. Depending on the context, the words “judge” and “judgment” connote either analysis and evaluation or condemnation and punishment. Discipleship inevitably requires discerning “judgments” about individuals and their teachings (e.g. [Matthew] 3:7; 5:20; 6:24; 7:6, 16, 20; 10:13-17; 13:51-52; 18:15-20). Jesus himself makes such judgments (e.g. [Matthew] 4:10; 6:2, 5, 16; 7:21-23; 8:10-12; 13:1-13; 15:14; 23:1-7). Jesus does not forbid here what he has commanded and exemplified elsewhere.
What is forbidden is a rigid, censorious judgmentalism that scrutinizes others without even a glance at oneself. Such a draconian standard will return to haunt the one who condemns other by it. Jesus teaches that honest introspection is absolutely necessary for clear discernment and just moral judgments. Christian interpersonal judgments must be constructive, not retributive, since Jesus’s disciples will not demand an eye for an eye and will love their enemies.
David Turner, Matthew (BECNT), p. 205