Matthew 7:1-5 – Judgement
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 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? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” – Matthew 7:1-5NLT
It was a hot, Saturday afternoon in Colorado. My husband and I had taken our cat to the vet to be spayed, and we were burning the time it would take by going on a short hike. We’d decided to drive up to Red Rocks, only to discover as we arrived there was a reggae festival going on all that day. A quick discussion and we decided to hike there anyway, enjoying a short drive past a pack of men dancing on top of a motorhome and numerous other people milling about their cars, swapping beers and listening to music.
We found a parking spot relatively quickly and hopped out to put on some sunscreen. The sunscreen was in the trunk of our car. In the time it took us to get out of our little Honda and trek back to the trunk, a man walked up to us to share with us his “good news”. What followed was a two-hour conversation on theology and belief from two very different worldviews. This young man was a Hare Krishna, but he hadn’t always been one. He had grown up in a Christian home, but had left Christianity because, in his words, Christians were “too judgemental” and he hadn’t been able to stand it anymore.
If you’ve been a Christian in the west for any length of time, this accusation is not an unfamiliar one. In fact, according to a Barna study, 87% of 16-29 year olds view Christians as judgmental. Admittedly, this study was published in 2007, but this perception does not seem to have changed much. In fact, one of the Bible verses I’ve seen quoted the most by people who are not Christian is straight from Matthew 7:1ESV, “Judge not.”
But what is Jesus really getting at here in Matthew 7:1-5? Perhaps He is calling us all, once again, to recognize and ask forgiveness for our own sin. In Matthew 7, Jesus is dealing with the Pharisees, who spent most of the time criticizing the sins and shortcomings of everyone except themselves. Jesus eventually became so frustrated with the Pharisee’s self-righteousness (viewing themselves as perfect) that He called them “whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity” (Matthew 23:27NLT). The Pharisees were so busy finding fault in everyone else, they never took a good long look in the mirror at what needed change in their own hearts.
What would the church look like if we all looked inside first, before casting an external eye on others to find their failings? What if we honestly recognized all the ways we come short and turned to Jesus for forgiveness and reassurance? What kind of heart would we have, then, when we saw brokenness and sin in the lives of our fellow believers? How would our approach to them change? Would we not be more compassionate? Wouldn’t our motives be more about the eternal well-being of our fellow brothers and sisters, instead about “winning” or “making a point” or “proving them wrong”?
This passage is not calling us to have no sense of discernment of right and wrong, for in 1 Corinthians 5:12bNLT, Paul in fact states, “it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.” Rather, our judgement should be like Jesus, who, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11NLT).
- Have you ever felt judged? How did that impact your relationship with that person and what they stood for?
- Why is it so much easier to see fault in others than in ourselves?
- Has anyone ever held you accountable for something in a way that actually helped you grow? What about that interaction was different from “judgement”?
- Challenge for the Week: Ask the Holy Spirit for self-awareness of when you are being judgmental toward others. Every time you catch yourself in a spiral of judgement, pray to God for eyes to see that person or situation through the eyes of Jesus.