If you’ve been a Christian for long, or even if you aren’t a Christian, it’s quite possible you’ve either dropped or been hit by the “judger bomb”. I’m not talking about a new drink mixture. No, the judger bomb is often dropped when you’re feeling especially convicted or wronged by a conclusion someone made based on something you did or said. Those on the receiving end of the judger bomb have probably heard something like “You can’t judge me”, or “Christian’s can’t judge!”. (Here I’m referring to simple judgments on behavior, attitude, etc., not damning someone to hell). If you’re lucky, the judger bomb may have even been dropped from a Matthew 7:1 vantage point…
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”
And that’s always where it stops. Sadly, this is the only verse many who claim Christ as their Savior are able to quote from His Word. Oh, that and John 3:16. So they’ve got the love and the “don’t judge others” down solid. Now, I’m going to make a judgment here, so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing you might brace yourself… If that is the height of what you glean from your time in the Word of God, and your service and worship of Christ, then you are stuck on elementary things and are woefully lacking in any depth of understanding to the purpose and power of Christ (Heb. 5:12 – Heb. 6:2).
Next time you’re feeling judged and you’re ready to drop a little Matthew 7:1 on somebody, feel free to read on a few more verses. You may be surprised by what you find….
“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at 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,’ and behold, the log is 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 what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
So verse 2; the way we judge is the way we’re going to be judged. Makes sense. We should be consistent. Still nothing that may fly in the face of the clear command “do not judge”, so we’re all good. Jesus follows this with a nice, vivid example involving a log in my eye. Ouch, but I get it. Hold on a minute though, verse 5… “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.” This must be a mistake. I already know Jesus doesn’t want me to judge. Like, ever. So he must have meant to say, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then never mention the speck in your brother’s eye.” Clearly this is a textual variant. Whew! Glad I rightly identified that. Now we can move on to verse 6. Uhhh, don’t give what is holy to dogs, or throw my pearls before swine. Now this must be referring to actual animals, otherwise I would need to somehow determine who are ‘dogs’ and ‘swine’. Gotta be animals. That fits perfectly in context.
I sure hope you’re picking up on that pile of sarcasm in the previous paragraph. Face it folks: Judging, in and of itself, is not the problem. Jesus didn’t mean for us to never make any moral judgments. If he did, we could not accurately preach the Gospel because it inherently involves calling people to be freed from their sin and to a new life in Christ. It’s a little hard to do that if we can’t make moral judgments and call sin, sin. So what did Jesus mean, if not a blanket statement against judging? Well, I think two things for sure: our judgments must be righteous, and our judgments must not be hypocritical.
John 7:24 says, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with a righteous judgment.” In our Matthew text, when Jesus says “by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”, he’s essentially saying this: As Christians, we know the judgment applied to us. It is a righteous one. So when/if we make judgments on others we need to remember we’re held to that same standard, along with the same elements of mercy and forgiveness afforded to us. (Luke 6:36, 37)
Again in our Matthew text, when Jesus says “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” it’s clear he’s referring to hypocritical judgment. Mostly because in verse 5, he calls this person a hypocrite, but then instructs them to correct that hypocrisy and take the speck out (judge) of your brother’s eye! Paul echos this in Romans 2:1-3 when he says, “…do you suppose that when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” This isn’t a negation of all judging. In fact, it’s a call TO judge, but to do so rightly. Popular culture and nominal Christians who use this verse as a shield against all criticism have it exactly backwards. When someone calls you out on an error, whether egregious or minor, consider this wild possibility: maybe they’re right!
Our culture tells us that judging someone is equivocal to hating them. “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Sorry, but that flies in the face of scripture. Jesus tells the church in Laodocia, “those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19). Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Here’s a crazy possibility: Who would waste their breath to tell you they think you’ve done something wrong if they didn’t care about you? We’re so eager claim offense at the slightest thing, we’re missing opportunities of potentially valuable correction. The Bible says if we do that, we’re stupid.