Judge not! Maybe the most famous bible passage among people who don’t read the bible? Much has been said about this passage, but anyone that attempts to evaluate it by ignoring everything after the first two words is probably clueless. Yeshua (Jesus) demands that we correct our brethren in love, provided that we take care of ourselves first. So, if I recognize that a brother is guilty of some sin, provided I am not guilty of that sin in my own life, or better yet, I have experience overcoming it, then I have a moral imperative to help my brother overcome that sin too. People who have overcome drug addiction will help drug addicts, for example.
Verse 6 underscores an important point: there isn’t much use judging people who do not regard the Word as holy. They don’t understand or respect God’s ways, so what is to be accomplished by judging them? Furthermore, we know that sin committed in ignorance is not the same as sin committed knowingly. Those who are in sin, but are not believers, are not going to stop sinning because of what the Bible says.
But I believe verse 6 applies to a lot of things. Outside of sharing the message of salvation, most scriptural things will be “pearls before swine” for those who do not believe. It’s silly to demand that non-believers submit to Biblical authority, or even understand Biblical teaching. Matthew 10:14 further underscores the notion that we should not waste time with those who will not receive the word: “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” Yeshua (Jesus) would often waste little time with those that didn’t receive His words. We should be the same way. Authority to correct sin is given to us within the community of believers; outside, we share the good news with those willing to listen, and don’t waste time with the rest.