Don't Judge Me - Matthew 7:1-6
You can’t judge me! Don’t be judgmental! Or famously, “only God can judge me!” You’ve probably said something like this or had someone say it to you before.
This passage is famous. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Our culture hates the Scriptures but loves this verse. Generally, it’s used to defend our actions or words. We use it as immunity to do whatever you want because after all, “you can’t judge me!” But is that really getting to the heart of what we just read?Is Jesus really giving you and me license to do whatever we want judgment free?
Clearly not! Jesus was rarely gentle with his words especially with the Pharisees: he called them a blind guides and white washed tombs just to name a few.
That’s pretty judgmental, right?
Could it be that our understanding of this passage needs to be corrected? After all, it should be our desire to truly and fully understand the words of Jesus.
Jesus isn’t saying you can’t judge other people because that would deny what he says elsewhere in Scripture.
He’s referring to something a little different in this passage: Jesus is condemning our desire to harshly and mercilessly evaluate the people around us. That is very different from prohibiting judgment altogether.
It’s human nature to believe you’re better than someone else. You and I enjoy thinking: I manage my money better than him, my children are better behaved than her’s, I’m easier to get along with than them. If I had his job I’d do a much better than him.
Whenever we give ourselves the judgment seat - everyone falls short and we come out on top. Why is that Well, it’s empowering to think you’re better than other people.
The truth is we’re unfairly critical and we’re hypocrites to varying degrees. Have you ever heard someone make that criticism of the church before? That we’re overly critical hypocrites? Stereotypes are usually unfair, but sometimes tucked inside them is an nugget of truth.
Even though we’re all deeply flawed, sinful people we should resist an overly critical spirit, and a hypocritical spirit. Rather we should embrace a spirit of charity and grace. You can see this outline on page six of your worship guide.
Christians should fight a critical spirit (vv. 1-2)
Do you enjoy being an unfair judge?
Our passage begins famously with “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
We’ve already decided that this verse isn’t prohibiting judgment altogether. If that was the case, then Jesus would have broken this rule many times with public condemnation of the Pharisees.
The obvious question is: if this verse isn’t prohibiting judgment how do we understand it?
Jesus isn’t condemning judgment outright, he’s condemning a critical, harsh, merciless, evaluation of others.
Frankly, that makes sense. The harsher -- the judge --, the harsher his judgment.
That’s why Jesus says in verse 2, For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Jesus is assuming you and I will make judgments. He’s not saying you should never judge, rather, he’s condemning the manner in which you and I tend to judge and evaluate others.
You and I have a tendency to be harsh and unfair.
Your level of criticism, judgmentalism, and harshness will be matched by those around you. Maybe not always to your face, but certainly behind your back.
The more critical you are the more open to criticism you become or, the harder you are on those around you, the harder people will be on you.
Really at the heart of criticism is finding the faults of others and exposing them. We all get some sort of sick pleasure out of discovering the vices and issues of other people.
He’s an angry person. She makes poor decisions. They’re bad parents. We all do this.
And it’s the exposing of faults and the harshness of our criticism that Jesus condemns.
Inevitably, we evaluate those around us harshly, but graciously judge ourselves. It’s some sort of coping mechanism.
We truly believe we can explain our faults and our sinful nature away --- my childhood, my job, the stress I’m under, my relationships, but this guy over here has NO excuses!
We really want want to believe we’re better than those around us and fault finding, judgmentalism, and criticism are tools we use to convince ourselves that we’re right.
Have you ever gotten off on the wrong foot with someone and prematurely determined you didn’t like him only to find out later they really weren’t that bad?
In the movie Remember the Titans, the two defensive players Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell couldn’t stand each other.
Their school had recently integrated and all the players on the football team were feeling each out. Initially, Julius and Gerry couldn’t stay each other, but by the end of the movie they were best friends.
Our criticisms will often rush us into conclusions. We’ll determine we don’t like someone before we even get to know them.
It’s not fair. It’s not gracious. Do you point out the faults in someone’s life in order to help him or to make yourself feel like your better?
Remember, the measure you use will be used on you. If your harsh, you can expect harshness in return. On the flipside, if you’re gracious people will tend to be gracious with you.
The bottom line is, if you look hard enough into the life of anyone you’ll find their sins, their struggles, and their issues.
So, the question is: do you evaluate people from a position of self-righteousness or humility? When we evaluate others from a position of humility we fight against the temptation to be hypocritical.
Christians should fight a hypocritical spirit (vv. 3-6)
I think verses 3-5 are just as popular as verses 1 and 2. Look at verses 3-5 with me. Jesus says,
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.
Obviously, this passage about the log and speck deal with the correction of a hypocrite. Notice a few things about these verses. First, Jesus doesn’t deny the existence of the speck or it’s need to be removed.
I think this is important because, often when this passage is quoted the implication is “you judgment is incorrect because of the log.” The log nullifies the existence of the speck.
And so, what we’re led to believe that because we’re all sinners, you and I cannot hold one another accountable.
Everything cancels each other out. My sin nullifies your sin and therefore we’re supposed to just pretend like none of it exists.
That is so wrong and not what this is saying at all. We can and should help our brother or sister remove the speck.
But how do we do it?
By first, humbly removing the log in our own eye. You and I need to evaluate ourselves before we go correct our brother or sister. We need to evaluate our own struggles in the area that we’re about to correct in someone else.
You and I shouldn’t ignore the existence of hypocrisy in our lives. We shouldn’t make excuses for it. Rather you and I should do our best to remove it before you approach your brother about the speck.
When you acknowledge the hypocrisy, the inconsistencies, your sinfulness, your own brokenness -- not excusing it or accepting it -- but by pursuing holiness and righteousness through the work of the Holy Spirit -- your able to see yourself more clearly.
The more clearly your able to see yourself the more humbly you’ll correct someone else. But our natural desire is to ignore our own serious faults while making a big deal out of the trivial faults of others.
Don’t jump into pronouncing judgments. Remove the log from your own eye. Humble yourself and approach your brother with charity.
Whenever you correct someone in love and humility often they’re willing to listen. My sister went to Liberty University and when she was there - there was a pretty big sword fighting club.
She tells a fantastic story about how one day she was walking to class and there was a kid skateboarding down the sidewalk. And the skateboarder, I think fell or something and this other kid thought it was hilarious.
My sister is just watching this whole thing unfold.
Apparently, the kid laughing at the skateboarder had a fake, cardboard sword strapped to his back like he was William Wallace or something.
So ironic, so hypocritical, so funny.
The truth is, we’re all hypocrites to varying degrees. By definition if you don’t live in perfect accord with what you believe, then you’re a hypocrite.
So, we’re all hypocrites. But we shouldn’t be okay with that. In fact, if you’re a Christian, you should strive to be more Christ-like. We should strive after godliness and holiness.
We should examine ourselves, fight the hypocrisy in our lives, and correct others in love.
Christians should embrace and encourage a charitable spirit (v. 6)
Implications of verses 1-5
Whenever we read something like verses 1-5 something should stand out. Jesus is telling us don’t correct a brother in haste without examining yourself.
By way of implication, Jesus is saying that our evaluations of others should err on the side of graciousness, love and charity.
Typically when you examine yourself, and humble yourself, you’ll end up being more gracious and charitable in your evaluations and judgments.
Why do you want to correct your brother or sister? Is it because they truly sinned? Or do you want to humiliate them in order to boost your own ego?
Self-examination has a way of de-escalating ourselves.
We read verses one through five and they make sense but then we hit verse 6.
What do we make of verse 6? What in the world is Jesus talking about? And how does it relate to verses 1-5?
“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.” Up and to verse 6 Jesus is telling us to be fair and gracious in our judgments of other people - but verse 6 is a warning.
He’s saying, “be fair, be gracious, be humble in your evaluations, but don’t be naive.”
There are those that hate the gospel. There are those that will hate you for your faith and we shouldn’t simply turn a blind eye to it.
In many ways, Jesus is calling us to discriminate in verse six. The word, “discriminate” is extremely loaded and negative for obvious reasons, but I’m using this provocative word because I want your attention.
Obviously, Jesus isn’t encouraging discrimination based on race or socioeconomic status. Rather, he’s encouraging spiritual discrimination.
Here’s what I mean: If an individual consistently rejects the gospel that may mean we need to move on. That may sound harsh, but reality is, we’re finite people, with finite time and we need to give all people an opportunity to respond to the gospel and rejection is a response.
I don’t think Jesus is talking about folks that will listen with interest to the gospel and not respond. He’s talking about those that vehemently reject the good news of Jesus Christ.
The truth is that there are some people that hate the good news of Jesus Christ and they want to take that pearl of the gospel and trample on it.
Jesus certainly isn’t saying that some people can’t be saved. Or that there are some sins that are so heinous a person cannot be saved.
No, Jesus is referring to those that have heard the gospel, understood it, and rejected it.
What we’re talking about is a difficult wisdom issue - how do Christians make the best use of our energy in personal evangelism?
You and I have to make difficult evaluations. We have to make hard judgments.
Christians must be mindful of their witness and how they spend their time. You and I need to exercise wisdom in the activities we participate in.
How often do you see those that claim to be Christians engaging in activities that totally contradict what they claim to believe? Some naively believe their Christian witness cannot be affected by their words or actions.
If you cast pearls before swine either you don’t value the pearls or you don’t understand the nature of pigs.
If you claim to be a Christian and you regularly find yourself at parties where everyone is either drunk or high -- there’s a major disconnect there.
A life of debauchery is inconsistent with Christianity. If claim to be a Christian and you enjoy hanging out with folks that mock the faith -- something isn’t adding up.
Ephesians 3 says that the mystery of the gospel has been revealed to us. The gospel message that we’ve tucked in our hearts is this beautiful pearl.
And pearls simply don’t belong in the mud with dogs and pigs.
There’s a certain level of judgement that we must make. Christians must make judgments and exercise wisdom in determining what activities, places, people will impact your witness.
Refusing to be naive in your judgments of other people doesn’t mean you’re uncharitable. It simply means you’re exercising wisdom.
At the same time, your desire to not be taken advantage of shouldn’t always be your primary motivation. We should embrace and encourage a charitable spirit.
Maybe I’m too literal in my thinking but whenever I think about a charitable spirit, I think about giving to the homeless. As Christians we’re called to give to the needy.
But a lot of folks don’t give cash to the homeless because they don’t want to finance their addiction that keeping them homeless. So instead they’ll get food for them.
Does that mean they’re uncharitable? Of course not!
Clearly, they’re being charitable, but they’re not being naive. They’re embracing a charitable spirit but they’re not ignorant to how people are.
The words of Christ that we’ve read this morning encourage a charitable spirit. That certainly is the implication. If we’re not to be harsh and hypocritical in our judgments of others, well, that means we should be charitable with them.
But, our charitable spirit should be coupled with a strong dose of reality. We shouldn’t be ignorant. We shouldn’t be naive. So much of the Christian life is this crazy balancing act. We’re supposed to be charitable but not ignorant.
We’re all fallen sinful people and therefore we should expect that to a certain degree.
Really consider the irony of what we’ve read this morning as a whole.
The perfect judge, Jesus Christ, subjected himself to the most unfair trial. But he had to put himself through it in order to fully display the grace of God. Doesn’t that sound backward?
Jesus was judged unfairly. But his judgment was necessary so he could fully display the grace of God.
Christians should be the first to give grace because they’re the recipients of grace.
So if Christians aren’t prohibited from judging, but rather, are called to evaluate others graciously what’s our criteria? Is there a grid we should use to make sure we’re being fair in our judgments?
You and I should know the Scriptures well enough to see through false teachers. We should be able to spot other believers by their fruit. Specifically, the fruit of the spirit outlined in Galatians 5. You and I should be able to correct a brother or sister using Matthew 18 as our model.
The bottom line is this: you and I should view everyone and everything through a biblical lens.
And the same biblical lens we use to look at others through, is the same biblical lens you should look at yourself through. This “Judge not” passage is not immunity for your actions rather exposes the culpability of your actions.
And anything less is unfair.