What does “by the measure you use it will be measured back to you” mean?
The New King James Version Bible translates Matthew 7:2 as follows,
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matthew 7:2 (NKJV)
All major Bible versions translate the verse almost identically. For example, the NASB translates it this way,
For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2 (NASB)
But what does “by the measure you use it will be measured back to you” mean?
With The Judgment You Judge
In order to determine the meaning of the first part of the verse, we will determine the meaning of judgment and judge. The Greek word for “judgment” is krima and it refers to a verdict, decree or a decision. The Greek word for “judge” is krino and it is the verb form of krima. Therefore, it means “to make a decision, to issue a decree or make a verdict.” This means that Jesus said in the first part of verse 2 that how we make decisions or reach verdicts about others is the way decisions will be made about us.
Therefore, if you are subjective in your decisions and make quick decisions about people, that will happen to you. If you listen to just one person’s story and do not take the time or spend the energy to hear the accused person’s story, then the same will happen to you! This cannot be referring to the final judgment of believers or non-believers because our God knows the truth and is just. This can only refer to life on earth. If you are not just in your decision making about other people, that is what you will experience. But if you are just, then you will receive justice.
With The Measure You Use
The last part of the verse is about measuring others. The Greek word for “measure” is metron. It is a noun and it refers to a standard of measurement. The Greek word for “measured” is metreo and it refers to measuring something or someone. A good example of this word is given to us in Revelation 21:15,
The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. Revelation 21:15 (NASB)
Here metreo obviously refers to measuring something and in this case some type of ruler was used. Once again we see that Jesus is saying how you measure other people and reach a conclusion is how others will measure you. Therefore, this illustration has the same meaning as the first part of the verse.
If you evaluate and make conclusions about others in an unjust manner, that is what others will do to you. If you make decisions emotionally about others, then others will make quick, uninformed and judgmental decisions about you. For more information you are encouraged to read the study, “Can We Judge Others?”
A constant and repeated sin that people make is to listen to one person’s complaints or slanderous comments (negative description) of someone and conclude that the story is true. Proverbs 17:18 warns that we cannot know the true story without hearing from the accused person(s).
The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17 (NASB)
In John 7:51 we are told that Nicodemus made this wonderful statement to the Jewish leaders when they were judgmental about Jesus Christ.
Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it? John 7:51 (NASB)
Earlier in the same chapter, Jesus said this,
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. John 7:24 (NASB)
That is the problem that Matthew 7:2 is describing. We are not careful to discover all of the facts before jumping to conclusions. We tend to trust the person who is slandering another person. As a result we are wicked judges. Proverbs 15:29 warns that God will not hear our prayers.
The LORD is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29 (NASB)
Matthew 7:2 goes one step further and warns that we will judged just as we judge others. Or, how we pull out our measuring tape and measure other people is how we will be measured. If we cheat in our measurements, then watch out!
Suggested Links:Can We Judge Others?
Do Not Judge