That's right. These verses are not addressing judging. They are addressing hypocrisy. Jesus is not saying we are not to judge. In fact, it is clear from this portion that He is saying we should judge! We should help our brother with the speck that is in his eye. We just should not do it when there is a log in our own. What does that mean preacher? That means if I am in an adulterous affair I should not be judging my brother's adulterous affair. Wow. Let this revelation sink in for a moment. Jesus understands our depraved nature so well. God understands our sinful state so well. It is so much easier to pick on other people rather than deal with ourselves. It is so much easier to call someone a sinner than look at our own sin. The miserable wretch that I am must first look in the mirror and remove what splinter might be lodged there before turning to my brother to help him with the speck in his eye. This is the essence of physician heal thyself. It also encapsulates the correct order of things for us as Christians. It reminds us that Mary has chosen the better thing. Our walk with the Lord must come first in every area of our life. Is it important to help our brothers and sisters? Is it important to spread the truth and light of the Gospel? Is it important to draw a line in the sand against sin and evil? All answers are a resounding yes but not before we first ensure we have removed the logs from our own eyes. Not that we would be perfect but rather that we not be hypocrites. We must remember that whatever we think is hidden in the darkness God will bring to light. So what good does it do to spread the Gospel and then be exposed in an adulterous affair? What good does it do to rail against the sins of the world while you are secretly committing them in private - only to be exposed at some point. What good do we think we are doing by correcting our brother or sister for a sin they know full well we are still wrapped up in? We do more harm than good. We finish with the key verses:
"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.
So we come to it. Judge not, that you be not judged. But it is far more involved than simply that. Jesus did not intend for this to be a sound bite to wield as a hammer, smashing any attempt to correct sin. We can tell just from this immediate context that it is the manner in which the judgment is pronounced. The discussion of another's sin should never be from a place other than love. It cannot come from a motive other than love.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. - Galatians 6: 1-5 (ESV)
The object is not to develop a critical spirit, searching for sin in everyone we meet. The object is to love one another so much, that when we see a brother or sister falling away we would be motivated to restore them. That restoration is a gentle process beloved. It stems from a place of understanding where that other person is and what they might be going through. It is easy to simply pronounce judgment and lord it over the person but that is not bearing one another's burdens. We bear one another's burden by understanding what those burdens are. Understanding the weight of them and the severity of carrying them. Not that we can physically bear them ourselves - verse five indicates we cannot. Yet we should be striving to understand the burden before we judge the sin.
Note why this is important. It prevents us from puffing ourselves up and so be deceived ourselves. How often have we seen judgment wielded as a blunt instrument with no love? Far too often. We do so because it makes us feel better about our own sin. But it leads to self deception as these verses indicate because you start to feel better about yourself when someone else is in the crosshairs. Have you ever had to deal with the super-spirituals in church? The people who are always in the prominent pew. Pray the loudest. Act the holiest. Fast to be seen. Praise to be heard. Beloved, there are no super-spirituals in the church. Your pastor is just a brother with a different calling than you. We all share the same Spirit, which is from God. We are all sinners, who thanks to the mercy and grace of Almighty God have been forgiven.
So when it comes to judge not, related to sins, it is not about one being better than another. It is not about our pride. It has to be motivated out of love. It has to be carried out in gentleness. It has to be free from hypocrisy. The judge not verses make it clear that there still is a speck in the eye of your brother and Jesus does not say to leave it there. He always says - go and sin no more. Removing the plank in our own eye first humbles us to realize we are not better than our brother or sister. It forces us to consider the burden they carry, lest we become conceited into a false sense of super-spirituality. We are our brother's keeper. If not now, when? If not us, who?