In Matthew 7:1 — Jesus is filing through his sermon set and invites people into a new way of seeing the idea of judgement. and he tells people to not judge unless they want to be judged. the traditional argument is that we shouldn’t look at the faults of others without taking the time to look at our own. and there is truth in that translation. but what if there is more, or maybe something even drastically different from our traditional views on this verse. let’s dig in!
i think its good to remember that these might be a collection of jesus’ greatest hits while he was doing his traveling preaching. in fact, the order within which they might have been compiled isn’t necessarily how/when he said them. and so to read these verses in context is to read them out of context. they tend to be much like proverbs, as they are better understood as single one liner maxims. i think its also good to know that the word ‘don’t’ (certain versions use the word stop or other negative contractions) doesn’t show up in a lot of hebrew lexicons. the closest we can come to is ‘ al al. which means no. and then when you began to dissect the word judge from the hebrew word, which is mishpat you get a huge collection of words, but the two that tend to get used is either contend or plead. most render those words with another one, ‘against’ or ‘with’…..but some lexicons might disagree with that assertion. one even has ‘plead for’, and i think its interesting that we can’t simply accept one interpretation because the hebrew to english translation itself leaves room for subjective understanding. and so maybe we can replace the traditional view of the word ‘with’ and replace it with ‘for’… so then we can get contend for, and also plead for, (which one lexicon agrees with). pleading for, or contending is much different than using the word against. in fact, the idea from the corner of for rather than with would be better neo-postmodernised as ‘cheerleader’ or ‘champion of’.
in light of that change, a new rendering of Matthew 7:1 would sound something like this: ‘If you stand in the corner of another person and cheer them on to find the best them that they can become than you to will be cheered on as well’ OR ‘ If you are the champion of urging people to discover the best within themselves, then you to will find a champion in that person to do the same for you’. again, its important to remember that a lot of the verses we take so literally weren’t literal. hebrew is a deeply embedded language that is multi-layered and is not subject to one correct rendering. And so, maybe judging has NOTHING to do with point any sort of finger at all, maybe it is more about focusing on the positive development of our friends, family, strangers and peripatetic audiences. this interpretation is more about focusing on the positive contributions of another person rather than focusing on what things might/might not need to be changed. Behavioral Scientists call this behavioral modification. maybe we can learn that life is about standing in the corner of the ‘other’ rather than on a pedestal pointing down.