Saturday, August 1, 2015

Matthew 7:1-6 Judging Others

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Jesus now moves on to a personal character issue. He says flatly that we are not to judge others. The reason for this is that we will be judged by the same standard we apply to others. We have sinned. Our neighbors and friends have sinned. If we condemn them without first acknowledging our own sin, our penalty will be just as severe.

Jesus illustrates this point with a humorous story about two people that have something in their eyes. You can't very well help your friend take a speck of sawdust out of his eye when you have a 2x4 in your own eye. Or, put another way, you cannot condemn your neighbor for flaunting his wealth when your heart is filled with envy and covetousness. 

We need to tend to our own spiritual problems rather than point to the failures of others. Once we acknowledge those failures before the Great Judge, then maybe we can use what we have learned from the experience to help (not judge) our failing brother or sister rather than condemn them.

God has little patience for hypocritical, judgmental people, but at the same time, I think He wants us to use an enlightened discernment about others. there are those in this world on whom words of warning and judgement would be wasted. Even offering an opinion about their behavior might be dangerous. We need to steer clear of these people because they are not in a place where a call to righteousness would have any value to them. This is what Jesus is talking about in verse 6. You can't give a new car to a 4 year old to drive and you should not waste scripture on a reprobate mind. Neither makes sense and both could be dangerous. We have to wait until God has made them ready and receptive. 

-So what do you think was going on in the Judaism of Christ's time that He felt He needed to address this issue of judging others?

It's what has always gone on among human and even among God's people. They were judging each other. In Judea, the religious leadership regularly passed judgement on others using their interpretation of God's laws. However, their interpretation and practice of God's law was, as Jesus pointed out time and time again, a sin itself. They were no more righteous then the people they condemned, except in their own minds.

-What was the result of the self-righteous attitudes of the religious leadership?

Rank and file sinners were barred from their only source of help and salvation.  They were separated from God by the rule keepers. There was no place for them to turn.

-What did Jesus' illustration about eyes and bits of wood say to His listeners?

We all have sin in our lives. Some have a lot and some not so much, but it all separates us from God if we let it. Pointing out a brother's sin does nothing for the sin in our own lives. Instead, we should all look to clearing our own spiritual vision by removing the sin from our own lives and then helping - not judging - our brothers and sisters with their sin problems.

-Have you ever noticed, after reading the gospels, just how comfortable sinners were in Jesus' presence? Why do you think this is the case?

He did not judge them. He helped them. He helped them see for themselves what their problems were and He had compassion on them and He forgave them.    

-Have you sen the opposite pattern in the gospels where the religious people were very uncomfortable in Jesus' presence? Why do you think this was the case?

He convicted them of their abject failure to keep their own rules, let alone God's law. See Luke 7:36-50 and John 8:1-11 for examples of this. These are amazing examples of how, without judging, Jesus led people to see their own sin. The sinners in the story were glad for God's grace. Those that considered themselves religious, sort of slunk away in horror.

-So what about today? Do you think unbelieving sinners would feel comfortable with us today as they did with Jesus?

If you are honest, can you really say yes to that question?

-Has the Church become a fortress to protect the "pure" and keep out sin? Should it not be more like a hospital, admitting the diseased and injured in search of a cure or healing?

These are worrisome questions. We do not want to become like our world's culture, but we do want to welcome them in when they are ready and not beat them up for their former lives. We want them to know they have a place with us in His kingdom if that is what they want. We must not put up barriers of prejudgment.

-So is there ever a time or place for judgement of others?

Check out Romans 2:1-4. Read about the situation in Corinth in I Corinthians 5. Then see the best policy about the matter in I Thessalonians 5:14-24.

If we avoid sin, we will likely NOT be judged by anyone - God or man. Barring that, I think we have to immediately throw ourselves on the mercy of God's court. Grace is available. Men may not be so generous, but God will take up for us if repentance is in evidence.

Bottom line...don't judge others. Just don't. It does not help them or you.

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