Sermon on the Mount
Do Not Judge
Matthew 7:1 “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. “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
The Super Bowl is known as much for its commercials as it is for football, and Super Bowl XXXIX was no different. During that year’ Ameriquest Mortgage Company sponsored two ads. One had a man coming home with a bag of groceries and a bouquet of flowers. He begins dinner by starting a pot of spaghetti sauce. As it simmers, he quickly sets the table where he has placed candles and arranges the flowers. He wants to do something really nice for his wife. But as he cuts up vegetables with a large knife, their furry white cat gets on top of the counter and tips over the pan full of red sauce, landing on the floor in the middle of it. The poor guy picks up the cat dripping with bloody-red sauce with one hand while still holding the large knife in the other — just as his wife walks in the door. At that point the commercial flashes the sign: “Don’t judge too quickly. We won’t”
The second commercial Ameriquest aired had a man talking on a cell phone as he enters a convenience store. He is talking to a friend and says, “Well, that’s a lot of money for a deck.” He picks up a drink and goes to the counter as he says, “I hate to tell you this but you are getting robbed.” The owner of the store is behind the counter with his back turned, and when he hears what the man is saying he looks into the security mirror just as the man puts his hand inside his jacket and tells his friend again, “Did you hear me? You’re getting robbed.” At that point the store owner spins around and sprays him in the eyes with mace. The man’s wife runs out and shocks him with a cattle prod as her husband proceeds to wale on him with a baseball bat. As the man lies dazed on the floor, the words appear: “Don’t judge too quickly. We won’t.”
The passage of scripture, before us this morning, reveals a great truth about how we are to function as Kingdom minded people and how we are to live in a community of believers. In this passage, Jesus deals with the all important discussion about judging others. Jesus reminds us we are not to judge others without looking at our own life and what motivates us to judge.
To “judge” means to look unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, and unlovely judgments upon them.
As in previous passages of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is dealing with the pervasive religiosity of the Pharisees who proposed heavy laws and rules that they themselves were incapable of keeping. Again while the Pharisees are not mentioned it is understood that he is dealing with the Pharisaical attitude of judging:
- What they did not understand.
- People who were not like them
- From a condemning and judgmental heart
Jesus was attempting to counter the works and the ways of the Pharisee’s who were critical of everyone, they were curt in their criticism, they lacked compassion and empathy when they critiqued others.
This passage does not outlaw any kind of judgment. “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24. So to fully understand this passage we must recognize that Jesus is prohibiting any kind of judgment because we must make judgments all of the time. For example, we are gearing up as a nation to vote for the president next year. In this process you will make a judgment about which candidate will best match our beliefs and our ideologies. So in a real sense we are to use good judgment when we analyze others. The kind of judging that Jesus is dealing with is the unfair, unloving and condemning kind. It is the kind that judges the motives of another without knowing their heart or their reasoning for doing what they do.
Judgmentalism has many forms and it probably sounds a bit too familiar. It happens when we make assumptions about people and when we make blanket statements about a who a person is (e.g., “He’s never going to change”, “She has always been full of herself”, “I know why she did that”). Judgmentalism is a subtle tone that can show up in how we ask questions (e.g., “Was he late again?”, “Did you see what Jane wore today?”, “Can you believe the let their kids do that?”). And it is also at the heart of racism (e.g., White people are so _________, Black people are ______________, Hispanics are so _____________, etc.)
The command about judging is not a retreat from absolute truth or courage to call something or someone out for what they are doing. Some people think that this verse commands no judging as all, as if the Bible’s ethic is relativistic and non-absolute. In other words, some might think that this verse precludes any evaluation of a person’s life or identifying that certain actions are wrong. This often how the verse is used – to back off a truth claim. In this case, people use this verse to claim that identifying someone’s actions as sinful and calling them to account for it is judging.
Lessons from the passage:
- We will be judged by the same measure that we judge others. Jesus reminds us that the measure that we judge others is the measure of judgment that will be levied against us. It has been said that what we despise in others is often the very thing that has control over us.
- We cannot judge others when we are guilty of the greater offenses. Jesus in this passage uses dramatic hyperbole when He says that we cannot deal with the speck one person’s eye when we have a log in our eye. The idea here is that we must judge that our motivation is pure and that we desire to see healing come to the other person’s life. Paul iterated this in Galatians 6:1 when he stated that 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.
- We should and must not judge others as a means to rationalize our personal sin. This is a critical aspect to this discussion of judging others as we often use the judgment of others as a means to rationalize our personal sin. We think that by pointing out sin in others that we are justified in our own sin.
- To judge others we must begin by judging
ourselves. “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” 1 Corinthians 11:31 Judgment must begin in our hearts. If we are tempted to judge others we must first search our hearts to see if there be any wicked way in us so that God can bring the restoration we need.