Matthew 7:1-6 – Judging

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Do Not Worry

At the time Jesus spoke this part of the sermon, the Jewish religion had become nothing but self-righteousness and hypocrisy for a hundreds of years. 

  • Judgments were NOT made in the light of comparing “what is right according to God”. 
  • The religious rulers and Judaism in general, judged everyone else as “sinners” from a perch of hypocritical self-righteousness

They were nowhere close to Godly righteous judgment.

  • This is the context of Jesus statement.
  • It is harsh declaration about their “religion” and a condemnation of their hearts, just as most of the Sermon on the Mount is.
    • Jesus: “You do ‘this’ in your religion, but I say do ‘that’

As in all the other elements of the Sermon on the Mount, the perspective here is given in contrast to the view of the scribes and the Pharisees.

  • They were the existing religious influence of the time; and against the background of their perspective, the Lord presents the truth.
  • Their view of life was to be proud, and the Beatitudes were to be humble.
  • They were a part of the system (“world”); Christ said that we are to be salt and light to the system, not be part of it.

They had denied the Word of God and established their own traditions, rules and regulations; Christ reestablished the affirmation of His Word alone.

  • They believed only in an external morality; Christ brought about an internal morality.
  • They acted out their religious activities of giving, praying and fasting in a hypocritical, superficial way; and the Lord said it has to be from the heart.
  • They were preoccupied with money and possessions; and the Lord says you are not so to be, but with the kingdom.

Jesus, in contrasting Himself with the Pharisees, is unmasking the inadequacy of human religion, and reaffirming the fact that true religion comes only from God, not from any human standard of judging what is right or wrong.

“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.

In modern lingo it might be explained like this:

  • “When you judge right and wrong, don’t be a hypocrite! If you are a hypocrite, the God will judge you by your own self-righteous standard. This is how bad you are:  you criticize someone else for a tiny speck in their eye while you ignore the log sticking out of yours! Quit being a hypocrite… judge yourself first, get right with God, then you’ll be able to judge your brother in a Godly way and help them.”

·       It certainly far more than this shallow version from “The Message”: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment.

“The Bible Says DON’T JUDGE!”

Probably the most common reference to the Bible we hear today is “the Bible says don’t judge!”, pronounced very obviously by people who have no clue what the Bible actually says.

  1. This is a self-defeating statement because the declaration itself is a judgment
  2. The Bible does NOT say “don’t judge (the end)”; the context and the rest of the passage are never mentioned or considered
  3. It is a nonsensical statement because we must make judgments every day, all day long in order to exist in society.

What the world really means by this statement is “you are not allowed to think anything I’m doing is wrong, there are no absolute standards, and what’s more, you must approve of and celebrate any moral choice I make no matter how sinful”.

Christians are guilty too!

How often have you heard something like this from a professing Christian: “Yeah, he cheated on his wife, but who am I to judge? Hey, we’re all sinners, right? Like Jesus said, ‘Judge not, lest you be judged,’”

  • It’s not just the world who use this to excuse their sin or to avoid confronting sin!

Judging – Are Christians Supposed To Judge?

Christians, and good people in general from a civil viewpoint, are ABLE to judge RIGHTLY, by evaluating behavior, choices and results of good and evil because the divine moral law is written on our hearts by God.

  • Why are we able to able to “judge” Osama Bin Laden as “bad?” Or Jeffrey Dahmer or Hitler. Why? Actions, choices, results (fruit).
  • You don’t have to be Christian to judge that rapists are evil and molesting babies is wrong
  • Good civil people are able to judge what is good and healthy behavior, and they (as well as Christians) shouldn’t be hypocrites if they want others to listen to them
    • No one gripes at someone who “judges” a jerk who bullies a child, or a rapist as evil or a lazy drunk as a ne’er-do-well
    • But if a Christian judges behavior as “ungodly” when clearly compared to what God has declared as good and bad, they are “judgmental”
    • And today, NO ONE can claim any sexual behavior or immorality no matter how deviant or absurd or they are immediately labeled as “judgmental” which is code for “hateful, bigoted, intolerant, self-righteous”
    • It’s also telling that folks who holler “don’t judge” the most are actually the most judgmental, intolerant people in our culture.

Christians Judge Behavior Compared Against God’s Standard

While we do not judge the heart (this is God’s domain), the actions and words of a person betray the content of the heart.

  • Even still, we only pronounce judgment on the actions and the results of those actions, while leaving God to judge the STANDING of any given person in His eyes or their motives.
  • We are to judge immorality based on God’s declared morals
  • We are to judge false religion based on God’s declaration of truth

Wrong is wrong. Ungodliness is ungodliness. False religion is false religion.

  • We are called to judge it as such, and rightly judge PERSONS who promote and practice it.
  • We don’t judge their motives or souls; we judge their fruit, their choices, their action.
  • God judges the soul. 
    • That does not mean we are unable to generally assess if someone is saved because the “fruit” of your life gives evidence of that.
    • If we suspect someone is not saved based on the evidence of their life, it is not “judgmental” to confront them about it; it is LOVE to do so.

Christians should quit sugar coating the true nature of Godly judging and shriveling every time someone throws the “judgmental” label at them.

  • Too many people avoid the Truth because they have been brainwashed by this “the Bible says don’t judge” fallacy.
  • The Bible tells us to judge, but NOT to judge unrighteously or hypocritically.
  • In other words, you don’t judge with a standard you aren’t willing to apply to yourself (hypocrisy), and you don’t judge by any standard other than God’s (righteousness).
  • And the implication is, if we judge hypocritically of others, God will apply that same judgment to us
    • And while it is not the deeper meaning of the verse, YES, there is a sense that when you are hypocritical harsh judge, you reap what you sow and others are likely treat you the same way.

(Matthew 7:1-5) – “Judge not, that you be not judged. “

Interpreting this as “never judge” (by ignoring the rest of the passage) can only be accomplished by spiritual blindness or Biblical ignorance.

We make judgments all day long.

  • Even the so-called “tolerant and non-judgmental” routinely judge Christians in particular as “self-righteous, bigoted, intolerant extremists.”
  • Pretty amazing “judgment” for people who daily declare that we are never supposed to “judge” people!
  • Ironically, the most judgmental people encountered are always they ones who cry “don’t judge” the loudest.

Be discerning and respond in firm love, but don’t sugarcoat or be intimidated by the “judgmental” accusation.

  • “The Bible says don’t judge” is a straw man argument that causes Christians to tremble and it should not; sadly it too often does because of Bible-laziness
  • It is one of the weakest and most absurd accusations there is but it still causes many Christians to shrink and retreat

The Bible Says Judge!

As Christians we make judgments about what is right, what is wrong, what is edifying, what is pleasing to God NOT based on our own preferences, but based on God’s Word.

  • We “judge” everything by God’s standard found Scripture.  Christian or not, everyone makes judgments constantly.
  • We are not to be hypocrites, judge without compassion or understanding, and not judge based on our own standards rather than using God’s.

Again, the human experience is full of judging every day.

Every person JUDGES every day, all day long about everything from the mundane (“that guy shouldn’t run red lights”), to the social (“the death penalty is wrong”) to the eternal (“I don’t believe in God”). 

  • You are not CAPABLE of NOT judging. No one is.

Common sense tells us that we judge routinely and constantly every day:

  • We judge what is right, what is wrong;
  • what is good or bad;
  • what is better or best;
  • what is wicked or holy;
  • what is God’s will or not;
  • what is Truth, what is a lie;
  • what is important or trivial;
  • what is Christian or not.

We judge the probably of salvation, or the level of sanctification by observation the results of a persons life. Jesus said a “tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33).

  • When do the hidden sinful purposes of the heart reveal themselves? In a person’s explicitly sinful behavior.
  • That’s why Paul didn’t even have to be present to pass judgment on a man who engaged in sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5:3). And he explicitly instructed the Corinthian Christians to pass judgment on him too (1 Corinthians 5:12–13).

When we sin, our Christian brothers and sisters have an obligation to judge us.

  • They must not condemn us, but they must, out of love, call us to repent.
  • Such judgment is a grace, an expression of God’s kindness (Romans 2:4), and we only compound our sin if we take offense.

We are commanded to confront, rebuke, correct and lovingly redirect those who violate God’s law

·       We judge sinful behavior and enact steps of discipline
Matthew 18:15–17 (NKJV)  15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.   16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’   17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

·       We judge the qualifications of Elders and Deacons

·       Matt 7: 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. [We judge false teachers, some thing Pauls commands over and over]

·       Romans 14 says “don’t judge your brother” but that is talking about judging in matters of liberty; I shouldn’t judge another based on my personal convictions about matters of liberty (eating, feasts, etc.)

·       1 Corinthians 5, Paul commands the church “not to associate with sexually immoral people,” which to obey, requires making a judgment. He further writes, “Are you not to judge those inside (the church)? . . . ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.'”

o  So not only should Christians judge other believers, they should also discipline them based on those judgments.

·       Jesus says in John 7:24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

The Bible Says “Do NOT Judge… Wrongly”

In essence it boils down to this: if you do not judge rightly, God will use your unjust standard on YOU. How do you know how to judge “right”?

  • Like all things Christian, it comes back to knowing your Bible, prayer, sanctification (living a holy life) and spiritual discernment.

“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? [We are experts at seeing others faults while being oblivious to our own; in context, this was Jesus condemning the religious rulers for their flagrant hypocrisy; their sin was gigantic compared to the people they condemned] 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.

And in James:

James 4:11–12 ~Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? (NKJV; emphasis mine)

James engages in practical teaching about living the Christian life. 

  • He leads up to the statement in verse 11 having taught us about wisdom, not to play favorites, faith without action is a  dead faith, keep your tongue under control, rid yourself of pride and be humble. 
  • He continues with a direct command about not speaking evil of a fellow Christian (ie. “judging”).

Let’s break it down phrase by phrase:

·       Do not speak evil… Evil here is the idea of badmouthing, unfairly criticizing, being derogatory or slanderous.

·       … of one another… It works both ways. Golden Rule stuff.

·       …brethren. James is giving specific instructions to Christians. Yes, we shouldn’t go around speaking evil about ANYONE but James is emphasizing the brotherhood and family aspects of being part of God’s household.

·       He who speaks evil and judges his brother…
When you speak evil in this manner, you are putting yourself in God’s place, setting yourself up as the Judge of your Brother or Sister. Remember, we aren’t talking about confronting someone over sin or rebuking obvious wrong (as determined by  Scripture). We are talking about ______ (go look at the list in the first bullet).   That kind of evil speak is truly JUDGMENTAL, the kind of judging condemned repeatedly in Scripture.

·       … speaks evil of the law and judges the law.
When you speak evil of another Christian, you set yourself up as The Law thereby insulting and diminishing God’s Law. You are judging God’s Law to be inferior to your own personal law which apparently approves of your evil speaking… even though God’s law forbids it.

·       But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Again, if you set yourself up as judge by speaking evil of your brethren, you aren’t not obeying God’s law;  you are elevating yourself over God and Brother as judge.

·       There is one Lawgiver… And it ain’t YOU.

·       …who is able to save and to destroy.
God is both Judge and Forgiver. He alone can forgive (with regards to salvation) and show mercy to those who have broken His Law. Or punish those who do not repent. You have no right to be judge, lawgiver, or forgiver in the sense of taking God’s place. When you speak evil of another Christian, you are setting yourself up as the judge of them, applying your law to them, and executing your justice on them.

·       Who are you to judge another?
This is not rhetorical. Answer the question… who are YOU to judge, condemn and execute (their reputation, feelings, etc) another Christian based on your own version of justice and law? Have you not committed as many or more wrongs than any other Christian?

————————————————————-

Godly rebukes should never smack of badmouthing or slandering but be done with language and motives meant to restore the sinful.

One thing that is often ignored in the “judge not” discussion is that judgment also involves (in fact starts with) a declaration of what is good.

·       If we do not judge, we cannot praise anything any more than we can condemn it.  If we cannot judge what is GOOD then how can we praise someone for doing good? (if there is a way to evaluate good, then whatever is not good, is rightly judged to be “bad”)

·       Judgment involves making the distinction between good, bad, or indifferent, not simply declaring something to be bad.

Every DECISION we make implies a particular value judgment underlying it (right or wrong; good, better or best; God’s will or not, etc).

Any society actually following the “don’t judge” mantra would soon devolve into utter chaos.

In Matt 7 Jesus warns of the human tendency to judge based on our own faults and flaws (or are ignoring of them).

  • This warning is one that should be considered when we judge another.
  • We should always examine ourselves first to see if the splinter we see is actually affixed to our own eye—and only if our eye is clean can we trust our judgment enough to begin the process of helping remove the offense from anyone else.
  • This is an incredibly important point, both emphasizing the importance of good judgment and the steps necessary to acquire it.

We are not to make wrong, critical judgments of other people.

  • This is the one thing that marked the Pharisees relations with others: a judgmental, condemning attitude.
  • It belied their claim to be citizens of God’s kingdom.

If we are hypocritical critics, then it calls into question the authenticity of our salvation too. You can’t be that kind of person and in the next breath claim to be part of the Kingdom.