Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV)
1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Jesus' words about judging may be the most-often-misquoted text from the Bible. People frequently apply it as if it were a flat command against all moral judgment, quoting verse one alone and out of context. In fact, people use it to judge what they consider a judgmental attitude on the part of another. Jesus, however, gave these words as one negative application of the Golden Rule. That is, we should not treat others as we do not want to be treated. We should seek to measure ourselves and others by the same standards
First of all using verse one alone is false, YOU WILL BE JUDGED!
"And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hell delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire; this is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." Rev. 20:12-15
The Greek word "krino" usually translated "Judge" means to pick out, prefer, approve or select. An unbelieving friend first introduced me to the term "cafeteria Christian", to mean those who pick and choose what parts of the Bible they will accept and reject. Of course when we condemn one sin and wink at another we bring great discredit on the church. Instead we must learn to judge righteously.
- Be Advised: not a command, but a guideline
1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.
Nobody wants to be judged, but yet we all are guilty of being judgmental. Jesus condemns in this passage the pick-and-choose judgment of the self-righteous; and makes that clear to everyone who takes the time to read past verse one. We are called to judge many things: 2
Timothy 2 tells us to rightly divide the word of truth; 1 John 4 tells us not to believe every spirit or every messenger, but to test them and judge what is true. A pastor as the shepherd must guard the flock from wolves in sheep's clothing, even teachers are required to grade their students and account for their actions (Hebrews 13:17). Jesus advises us that our judgment must be consistent.
- Be Aware: there is a flip side to judging others
2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
When we judge others, we are setting the table for how we would like to be judged in return. When we judge quickly and with harshness, we will be judged in the same way. When we judge with grace and love, we will likewise be judged accordingly. Measure for measure.
Jesus is laying the ground work for what he is going to mention in a few verse later in the passage. This is the negative application of the Golden rule(vs.12): In other words: Judge unto others the way you would want to be judged.
When we judge others we should take in consideration how we would like to be judged ourselves. In essence, this thought should be our primary motive when called upon to judge… If it was me, how would I want to be judged?
- Be Attentive: take inventory of yourself, there is something that needs tending.
3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
First we should notice the question in vs. 3 - Why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye? This needs to be answered as soon as we look at someone. Why do I even care? Why do I need to form an opinion about what I see in others? Why does their sin make me feel what I feel, to go and cast judgment? Getting to the root of this issue will help us move to the next question.
Did I consider the plank in my own eye? Our response is usually "What Plank? What problem? I don't have a problem!" Listen to verse 4 in the NLT "How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?"
When we look at others and see a speck… Jesus is saying that it should trigger something in us to first look and evaluate ourselves. This is incredibly important, if we don't do this we are simply showing favoritism to ourselves. It is as if we are saying "I am not in need of correcting my problems, but I do need to fix others." On the other hand, if we do this first and take care of our plank, not only will we be better off but also so would they.
- Be Appropriate: first thing first
5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Fill in the blank: That church is full of a bunch of _________________! (hypocrites) Is it true that most of our culture writes Christians off as a bunch of hypocrites? Why? Could it be because Christians have completely botched the spirit of this passage for far too long? Are Christians more willing to point out the problems in others rather than themselves? Are we more willing to point out the problems in the world rather than our own homes? The problems at our work rather than our attitudes and behavior? The problems with our children rather than our ability to parent properly?
The simple truth of the matter is that the world, our culture, and communities have witnessed first-hand us in the church being self-righteous and irresponsible.
First: Fix me. Deal with me not them, I need to look in the mirror and make adjustments. Fix what is wrong with me. Correct me. Repair and resolve me. You may say "But how will this fix their speck"? It's not about them, it's about you.
Second: Wait to see clearly. (step #1 may take a while to take effect). What should we do during this time? Pray for them? Serve/minister to them (w/o motive)?
Third: then go to a brother, and remove the speck from your brother's eye, help them. When I am willing to fix me first, then I am able and empowered to lovingly talk with them.
We are not supposed to hypocritically judge each other, but we are supposed to love each other and help remove the speck of dust out of our brother's (brother: implies a relationship, not necessarily a genetic relationship, but one that is spiritual and founded on love). Take note of the placement of the instruction to "remove a speck" in this passage. Of the 5 verses/sentences, it is the last one, and it is only half of the last sentence. Jesus is putting emphasis on the first 4 ½ verses and desires us to do the same before we begin speck removing in others.
Is there a perfect Christian in the room? No, so we do need someone to help us get the speck out, this is an action that is needed in the Christian community. But first, and most importantly, look in the mirror so we can see clearly. When we go to a brother for "speck removal" consider the following passages:
Galatians 6:1 (NLT)
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
James 5:19-20 (NLT)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back,
20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
When it comes to casting judgment the goal is always restoration… and this should be reflected in our spirit when we go to a brother.
"Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself" - Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.
The flip side: If you think you are the one being judged, before you resist the judgment, consider for a moment that maybe you are being confronted by someone who loves you. Maybe they have been where you are and they do have your best interest at hand.
No matter how many times you hear "Don't judge me" this passage will never be a call to become permissive, passive and uncaring about the sin that destroys so many lives. This is a call to humility, repentance, and compassion. Judge yourself because Jesus will judge you. Judge yourself so that you can repent. Judge yourself so that you can see clearly help others.
There is no doubt we live in a morally permissive culture; and if Satan can have his way the church will fall silent on the subject of sin and let the world go to Hell. Sadly too many of us won't judge others because we are unwilling to go through the pain of first judging ourselves.
I do not endorse a legalism that turns personal conviction, or personal preference into moral law. But if we live righteousness, and virtuous lives then we will learn to judge with the wisdom and compassion that Jesus showed.
The modern world wants us to accept everyone just the way they are. A friend of mine posted a picture on-line of a church sign where they bragged of being an "open and accepting congregation". I replied that " I openly accept that God is right, and men need to repent". I regularly tell people that Jesus loves you just the way you are; but he loves you too much to leave you that way. "While we were still sinners Christ died for us", but never so that we would stay sinners.
1 Thessalonians 5:22-24
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.
Whereas the Lord's Prayer says "forgive us as we forgive", so this one says "judge us as we judge".
The judgment that comports to the righteous of Christ is humble, consistent, compassionate, and blameless. May we all learn to judge like that.