“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. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)
In our culture, one thing that we’ve gotten particularly good at doing is judging things. We all have an opinion and we like to let that opinion shine. We like to let the world know what we think about things, so we let our opinions shine on the Internet. We like to let the folks at work know what we think, so we add our critical opinion to every single thing. We like to let our family know, so we deal the truth in brutal fashion.
Hey, we have to be honest, right?
Well, Jesus has a thing or two to say about letting our opinions shine. In verses 7:1-2, He makes it pretty clear for us:
“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.”
As we discuss this, let’s first get one thing clear. Jesus isn’t talking about the “judgment” that is used as we exercise our appropriate authority. He isn’t talking about sweeping sin under the rug. He isn’t talking about preachers that stand in pulpits and point out what the Bible says about certain activities. These types of things can be done wrongly and will, therefore, then be sin, but that isn’t the point.
No, it seems that Jesus is mainly talking about the judgment that is lived out in our personal relationships. What makes me say this? Well, for one different types of judgment are clearly allowed in Scripture, so it’s apparent that Jesus isn’t talking about all types of judgment.
Second, scroll back through the previous couple of chapters of Matthew and get a feel for how Jesus is addressing the crowd in the Sermon on the Mount. Here are just a couple of examples:
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ESV)
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 ESV)
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” (Matthew 6:5 ESV)
Of course, there are a lot of things to talk about from this Sermon, but don’t you see the personal call here? “Let your light shine…practicing your righteousness…when you pray.” There is a personal call to holiness here that is separate from the appropriate warnings to be given at appropriate times (i.e. other forms of judgment).
And Jesus’ warning to us about this type of judgment is very clear. We’ll be judged by the same measure we use to judge others. The example Jesus gives to help us understand this warning is picture perfect. We should work on the plank in our own eye, before looking for the speck in someone else’s eye.
He didn’t say the speck in the other person’s eye doesn’t matter or that it’s OK where it is. He said worry about our plank first, and then be warned that how we go after the speck will be applied back to us.
O how I wished that I had this conquered! O how I wish I obeyed Jesus in this area! But, sadly, I don’t. In fact, this is one of the most sinful areas of my life and just recently Sweet Wife has gone through great contortions to gently remind me of how badly I’m failing in this area.
My expectations are too high for people and they never meet them. I look at everything critically. I fail to separate the criticism of events or happenings with the people involved and everything becomes personal. [I’m a messed up dude!]
I know all of this and I hear the words of Jesus, so, really, woe is me.
So what do I do? What do you do?
Well, we can first be thankful that we again hear God’s call in this area. Perhaps that tells us that we aren’t spiritually dead. Then, we can pray and ask for forgiveness and petition God to ask that He grant us repentance. Then, we have to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Christ. We have to be aware of what Jesus is calling us toward, and then build a plan to have this on the front of our minds all of the time.
Lord, I am the worst at judging others. I do not want to be judged by You in the way I’ve judged others and been critical of them. Father, would You please forgive me and grant me repentance from this? Lord, I can’t let my light shine for You if I constantly use my light to hunt the wee sins of others. Father, thank You for hearing my prayer in Jesus’ name, amen.