Judging Like Jesus | Matthew 7:1-6;12 (Mville)
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 7:1–7:6
Good Morning! It’s the Sunday after Easter and the tomb is still empty and Jesus is still as alive as He was last week. We are continuing our series in the Book of Matthew, looking at Jesus the promised Savior-King of God’s people. Jesus has begun His public ministry and has drawn a large crowd to hear his preaching of the gospel of repentance meaning turning from sin to the kingdom of God. So we are in the middle of this Message of the King. We spent several weeks looking at how the law to love God and love people, while appearing simple, has deep implications over all aspects of our lives. Last week we saw how we can be anxious about our own lives and this week we see what happens when we are too concerned with the lives of others. In this section we have likely the most famous and oft quoted verses, by Christians and non-Christians alike, in the entire Bible; which is also one of the most misapplied and misunderstood. We have a well-known teaching on blind hypocrisy, a verse you likely did know Jesus said because of its obscurity and perceived offensiveness, and Jesus version of the universal “golden rule.”
Matthew 7:1-6,12 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 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? 4 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? 5 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. 6 “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.
12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
“Don’t Judge!” v1-2
We live in a culture, in a time, place, and people who have made a claim that everyone has an unfettered right to do whatever they want or feel. This means key concepts like what is right and wrong or good and evil are not firm timeless truths that stand alone and apply universally to all people. Instead, right and wrong are fluid ideas that change over time and place and are ultimately decided by personal desires, intellect, experience, of individuals and groups. This has changed the definition of societal progress from how can we more effectively live out what is universally right, while reducing universally wrong; to how can we have more individual freedom to pursue our personal right while casting off any restrains particularly if those limits define what we individual feel is right, as not right but rather wrong. It’s time to see what I can do to test the limits and break through, No right no wrong, no rules for me, I am free! Let it go! –Frozen
When new individual or societal “rights/goods” begin to contrast with the clear commands and standards God lays out in scripture and the church, the people of God, attempt to remain faithful and push back against or shine light on attitudes, behaviors, or beliefs Gods word says are NOT right or good but are in fact unwise, or even wrong and sinful, it is not always or often meet with a warm welcome reception. Rather the response is usually charges of hatred or intolerance which is wildly inconsistent with a worldview that says we all define our own right, our greatest value is tolerance. Because “your right” says “my right” is “wrong” you are being judgmental. There is no greater wrong then to be judgmental, so I judge your “judgmentalism” and find you guilty of the great crime of intolerance, your sentence is you are no longer welcome as an acceptable participant mainstream society or popular culture. Your intolerance will NOT be tolerated! Nearly every time Christians are charged with intolerance, either by Christians or non, what verse is used as the great universal truth to convict of us our sin? Judge not, that you be not judged. “I hate everything the bible says about my life not measuring up to God’s standard, but I love the verse that says you are sinning by calling out my sin.” This is a complete misunderstanding and misapplication of what Jesus is trying to teaching on judgment. Jesus is NOT instructing us to throw out clear teaching and instruction on right and wrong, never confront individuals with sin, or call out societal wrongs. On the contrary we are repeatedly called in scripture to use our best critical thinking and discernment as we navigate this world, in fact 5 verses later is a clear call to do just that, another way of saying discernment is to use good “judgment.” The judgment Jesus is talking about here is like a legal sentencing that includes condemnation. Judgment from the sense of condemnation is different than judgment in the sense of discernment or critical thinking. When the world or unbeliever says “don’t Judge!” they are usually saying don’t use any critical thinking or discernment to determine if how or why I live my life in anyway seems illogical, inconsistent, harmful to self and/or others, or especially do not determine it to be WRONG.
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
Jesus is concerned we will believe and act in such a way that we on our own have the authority to judge others. Others have entered our court room, where we are judge, jury, and executioner and we have condemned them to our wrath or God’s. It is dangerous to assume you have the authority to judge others if you are not acting under your own authority and are not submitting to God’s authority. This is happens in the church when we are hasty to judge brother and sisters and our judgment/discernment cross over to condemnation or punishment. We are instructed not to condemn, but we are also instructed to forgive. Forgiveness means a sin has actually been committed. Jesus isn’t saying don’t judge because there is no sin to judge. John Stott – This “Is not a requirement to be blind, but rather a plea to be generous.” Jesus also wants us to be reminded we are not the ultimate judge, He is. God is THE judge in all things and eternal things in particular. We don't have authority to judge and sentence condemnation, but Jesus does.
John 5:22-24 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Judgment belongs to Jesus, so does forgiveness, and he gives it. Christians are defined by God’s forgiveness of our sin by Jesus work on the cross. We have been granted mercy by God and have the least right to be overly harsh and condemning to those around us. John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” We have a vision problem because of our own sin, so we don’t judge rightly. We are quick and hasty judges who don’t deliberate and are not impartial. Our judgment does not matter as much as God’s judgment. We act rashly and arbitrarily, God does not, He always acts justly and appropriately. Jesus is warning us not to make a consistent practice of judging because it possible as harshly critical as we can be towards others that criticism and condemnation can easily be turned back against us. We will get back as much as we give out when it comes to judgment. Jesus is simply reinforcing the idea he said back in chapter 6 when he says if we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us. Jesus is giving us a model for how to deal with sin in a Gospel Community, start with you.
Plank vs Speck v3-5
Jesus was a carpenter from Galilee; he was greatly acquainted with working in the wood shop with his adopted dad Joseph. They didn’t have safety goggles back then, so when you’re heads down working through life in a messy broken world you are bound to get stuff in your eye. Because of this our vision, our discernment/judgment can become wrapped, limited, by specks of sawdust being kicked up. Sometimes there are grievously worse sins that can completely blind and paralyze us. These are planks in our eyes. Planks are big (ceiling or roofing beam) and debilitating. They keep you from moving and keep you from effectively helping others at all. A speck on the other hand can be painful it can make life more difficult and make us less efficient or effective but ultimately we can still function moving forward and helping others. Jesus isn’t saying everyone who passes any form of judgment is a worse sinner then whomever there are judging but he is saying what you see in other may often be of dramatically less importance/impact then the sin God sees in you. Yes there is a problem in your brother’s eye, yes they have issues that are painful and irritating to them and those around them you can easily see, point out, and think you can help with but the problem is we are more critical with others then we are with ourselves. (I met with a young guy complaining his girlfriend isn’t pressing into the church or reading her bible enough when he’s leading them into sexual sin) We are experts in the sin of others and complete novices when it comes to our own sin. We have a total ignorance of self when it comes to our own sin. Our judgment is always subjective based on how it impacts us. (When I am on the centennial trail think differently based what I am doing at the time.)
When you have a plank in your eye it makes you blind to see the experience and pain others are going through; you are even blind to see how your sin is affecting others. You actually can't see, all you can do feel is your own pain. You have no vision for others at all because you’re down one eye and the others is covered with blood so EVERYTHING you see is through the lens of your own sin, pain, and brokenness. You cannot remain with a plank in your eye because you’ll be unable to move and eventually you will bleed out and die. Jesus doesn’t say just cut down the log to a more manageable size, or sand it down and put a nice eye patch over it, he says TAKE IT OUT! “Hey this is just naturally who I am,” planks and specks are things that are natural but don’t belong in the body, particularly in a body bought by Christ on the cross.
We need to have clear, unimpaired vision to be able to perform delicate procedures on others. Yes don’t be a hypocrite, but also know we are all supposed to help one another out. (My kids put a sticker on my back that said kick me and dozens of people saw me didn’t say anything, that is not loving!)
How do you handle it when someone points out a speck in your eye? Do you graciously thank them for bringing it to your attention so it can be dealt with? Or do you bite back so hard and so quickly they don’t think for a second they could ever tell you about a bloody 2x4 in your head for fear of your reaction? Who do you let speak it to your life? Is it only people who affirm what you already think, feel, perceive? Who can or does challenge you on a regular basis? Do you seek them out or do you avoid them?
I had to have a plank of fear, self-pity, envy, and pride shown to me early this week by the elders, godly Christians brothers who love me. Listen, it wasn’t easy at the time but enduring the temporary discomfort of having your sin pointed out, asking forgiveness, and repenting is far better than letting a plank remain. Repenting, turning from our sin towards God is not a one-time occurrence; it is a regular even daily rhythm. Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. We may have to remove planks from our eyes more than once; the planks will just be made of different types of wood as different types of sin hit us in different ways in different times. We also don’t try to remove planks on our own, they are heavy and we are weakened.
Gal 2:18 8 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
Do not try to rebuild on your own and try to heal yourself, it will only lead to miss managed scars because you were blind to the problem in the first place you don’t have perfect vision during the healing process. We need healing that can only come in community. Gospel community means we don't worry about being ashamed about our 2x4s or our specs and we don't hope others have worse planks then we do. Gospel community means helping one another deal with obstacles that keep us from living as the new creations God has made us in Christ. We see things in others they don’t see in themselves. With vision restored we are then able to more clearly discern the sin and challenges in our brothers’ life and be able to effectively help. Jesus doesn't say so you can remove brothers’ plank, he says then we can remove the brothers’ speck. The point is, Jesus says the speck is worth removing. God want’s all the specs and planks removed because He knows they cause us pain, prevent us from seeing clearly, and keep us from actively living out the mission he has called us to.
Gal 6:1-3 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. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Brothers are in the same family. Don't hold non-family members to the same standards as the family.
Pearls for Pigs v6
Don’t judge those who shouldn’t be judged harshly. Jesus transitions to warning us on being too harsh with our brothers and sisters in Christ and hypocritical with ourselves, to being too lax in giving what is holy and valuable to dogs and swine who seek to misuse and destroy what is from God and attack the people of God. Jesus says “do not give” this is not a suggestion; Jesus is giving clear instructions here. Holy means set apart, or pure. Pure things and pearls of value are not fit for those who have contempt for the things of God and only seek to trample them. They will turn and attack you, they have hostility and there are times and people it is necessary disengage with. For those who have rejected the gospel, or are hostel to the teachings of Jesus and the bible there is little value in constantly engaging with them at that level. Deciding when and who to no longer discuss the things of God is requires a great level of judgment or discernment.
It’s not easy. You can win an argument and lose a person. You can also just stop arguing, love people the way we are called to, pray for them, and wait. That is the hardest because we’re then relying on God and His Holy Spirit to convict of sin and convert their heart to worshipers of Jesus. Leave people with no doubt about the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins. But know many will reject it or be hardened too it. Love, preach, engage, with all and then dust your feet off.
Matthew 10:11 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town
Let there be no question we are called to be discerning even as we are engaging people with the good news of the gospel. Jesus modeled this. He preached to large crowds, taught to smaller groups of people interested in hearing the gospel, he was exceedingly generous with his time and his words but when he was brought before the wicked puppet king Herod on the day of his crucifixion Jesus knew Herod only wanted to see the side show of Jesus healing and miracles and was not interested in bending his knee to the carpenter from galilee so Jesus simply said nothing. No call to repentance, no “let me show you who’s really king”, not a word. Constantly giving the pearls of the gospel and godly wisdom to those who seek to abuse them is of no value, it will only seek to discourage you from engaging with those of softer heart and embolden those of hostility. We can’t assume if we become “better” or live as more faithful followers of Jesus that we will be more universally liked by those who don’t know/love Jesus. In fact often in can be the opposite, Jesus was faithful, loved perfectly, was without sin, and he was still murdered by those who did not worship him as God. Unrestrained pigs trample, unkempt dogs attack. Jesus says use judgment. We are also called to love people the way we want to be loved, without regard to them being loving to us.
Golden Rule v 12
This applies greatly with how we engage with our brothers and sisters a guideline for HOW we address the sin and brokenness in others. It is out of love for people we engage with their sin, it is for love of God and his glory and holiness that we would seek to help a brother and sister in Christ towards greater growths in holiness or righteousness. There is no room for selfishness in right discernment and active love of others. We are to focus on others, but our focus is not of judgment and condemnation “what we would hate to have happen to us” but is to be with gentleness, love, forgiveness, and restoration because that is what we wanted done to us.
Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Jesus takes a well-known and popular Jewish proverb (and other ancient philosophies/religions) “golden rule” which was always stated in the negative form. “Do not do to others what you do not want done to you.” Or “what you hate, do not do to anyone”. and gives it a remix. Jesus was the first known to state the golden rule in a positive form. “Whatever you wish others would do to you, do also to them.” This is not an insignificant change. Jesus is showing God’s character and how we as God’s children and citizens of His kingdom are supposed to respond to others. Jesus is also showing the beauty of the gospel. Religion says restrain the amount of bad you do and the evil you do to others. Irreligion says there is no bad, just whatever restrains you from pursuing what you believe is good. The gospel shows God doesn’t just wish to restrain evil and God’s love is incredibly active. God’s love is a love that initiates with us as unlovable sinners and makes us both turn from wrong/evil/sin and leads us to pursue a love that initiates with others even while they are less than loveable. Jesus tells his people they are to be active in how they fulfill the “Law and Prophets” to love God and love people. This is not a suggestion Jesus says this is what it looks like to be a citizen of the kingdom, followers of Jesus WILL do this. Not of our own power but because of His.
1 John 4:10 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
More in The King Has Come | Matthew
May 11, 2014Jesus the Rock | Matthew 7:24-29 (Mville)
May 11, 2014Jesus is (Scary) Gracious | Matthew 7.15-23 (Snoh)
May 4, 2014Kingdom Admission | Matthew 7:13-23 (Mville)