Matthew 7: 1-5
I don’t know if you realize it or not but this passage and especially verse 1 is one of the most unique passages in all the Bible.
- When it comes to atheists, and unbelievers, and lukewarm Christians, of all the verses in the Bible this is the only one they have memorized.
- How many times have you heard it?
- A man is cheating on his wife… as a concerned friend you talk to him and tell him that he is wrong for doing so… and the response you receives is: “Judge not lest ye be judged.”
Some use this passage to justify not making any judgments at all when it comes to people and their character, and their conduct.
And some say this forbids a Christian from ever sitting on a jury in a court of law.
- Is that what Jesus is saying here?
- Is He telling us not to make any judgments about people at all?
- What is Jesus saying here?
Well, to help us understand what Jesus is saying here we must go back to Matthew 5:20.
- In Matthew 5:20 Jesus says: 20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness
surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of
- All the way through this discourse, from the beginning of chapter 5 to the end of chapter 7 there seems to be an underlying theme that says that “God’s people…followers of Christ…kingdom people…are to be different from the world…and what the world ..and specifically we are to be different from the scribes and Pharisees.”
- We are to have a “righteousness” that exceeds theirs.
So, what were the scribes and Pharisees doing? Turn to Luke 7:36:
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. And He entered the Pharisee’s house, and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
The Pharisees, in their self-righteous arrogance, said there are people who are “sinners” and then there are us Pharisees.
- They didn’t see themselves as being sinners…or at least they didn’t see themselves as having the same faults as others.
Look at Luke 18: 9: And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
- Here it is right there…this is exactly what Jesus is referring too in Matthew 7:1.
- Looking at yourself as being “righteous… and viewing others with contempt.”
Look at the rest of this starting in verse 10:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12’l fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get’
Do you see the attitude that these Pharisee’s had? They were arrogant… and were self-righteously over critical of others.
- And they were always going around pointing out the faults of others and never seeing their own.
So when Jesus says in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest you be judged”, He is not talking about making sound judgments about open and obvious sin.
- In fact, in 1 Cor. 5:1-7 Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for not making a judgment and rebuking a brother in sin.
- And in verse 11 of that same chapter the apostle Paul says “not to associate with and brother who is immoral.”
- And in verse 12 Paul says that we are “to judge those who within the church but not those who are outside.”
- Some judgments have to be made.
- So Jesus is not talking about and forbidding making some sound judgments about sin…and the necessity to reprove a brother or sister in Christ.
Jesus is not forbidding making some judgments in reference to what some were teaching and whether they were a false teacher or not. 1 John 4:1-3.
And He is not forbidding making some judgments about what someone believes and doesn’t believe in reference to salvation; Acts 19:1-7.
- I can take what the Bible says and get a good idea of where someone stands in their beliefs; how else will I know if they need to be taught a more “perfect” way.
He is not forbidding making a judgment in reference to a person’s moral character and whether we should or shouldn’t be their companion.
- In 1 Corinthians 15:33 we are told that “bad company corrupts good morals.”
- We have to make judgments about whether someone is bad company.
He is not forbidding sitting in a courtroom as a juror.
When Jesus says, “Judge not lest you be judged”, He is not saying that you are not to make any judgments at all!
- He is talking about having a “holier than thou”, critical attitude in which you view others with contempt and condemn them because they do not meet your standard.
Now, in reference to this attitude of looking at others with contempt…It is like the story of the newspaper reporter that was doing a story about the laziness that existed in the South.
- And one day he drove by a field and out in the field was a man sitting in a chair hoeing weeds.
- Boy, this had to be the ultimate in laziness…so the reporter turned his car around and went back.
- And what he saw this time changed his entire outlook.
- He saw that the pant legs of the farmer that he saw hung loose…that he had not legs.
- So what he initially thought was laziness turned out be courage.
You cannot always see other people’s motives.
- You cannot see what is in their minds.
- We cannot know all the facts.
- We cannot fully know a person’s circumstances and situation.
- We cannot know the temptations he faces…the environment he lives in.
- We cannot know his health situation.
- And yet, we sometimes take our limited knowledge…and sometimes we take our limited view of things…and we want to harshly judge others.
Before we make judgments about someone we need to get all the facts; don’t work off of assumptions, half-truths, and hear say.
The point is, sometimes what we see is not what is…and what is sometimes is something only God can see and know…
- And when we start harshly judging other people we are basically saying, “I can see as God sees.”
- We put ourselves on the same level as God…and that is a dangerous thing to do.
- In fact, that will bring judgment from God on us and that may be the primary concern.
- The concern may not be so much for those you criticize but for yourself because when we judge and condemn we put ourselves on the same level as God.
Look at this found in Rom 14:3-4
3 Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another?
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
We can’t know everything in everyone else’s heart.
- We can’t know their motives…only God can do that…and we need to leave the judging and condemning to God.
In fact, look at the warning in Matthew 7:
2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
How would you like for God to judge you the way you judge others?
- If you require perfection from others do you want God to require perfection from you?
- If you judge others harshly with no mercy and grace…do you want God to judge you harshly with no mercy and grace?
Look at vs. 3: “And why do you look at 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,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
Do you see the word “look”?
- In the Greek that word means “to gaze, to keep looking at something.”
- Jesus is speaking here of a person who is so busy looking at someone else’s faults that he can’t see his own.
- And the truth of the matter is…the other guy may have faults…but they aren’t near as bad as the guy who is being judgmental and critical.
Several years ago several of us went out to play golf (Eldon…first tee). .
Before you judge someone else…look at your own life!
- We can be so busy looking at someone else’s faults and judging them that we fail to look at ourselves…and make the corrections that we need to make.
- Don’t get so busy judging others that you can’t see what is amiss in your own life.
Now verse 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.”
- Let me ask you this…if you had something in your eye and you couldn’t get it out…but I could…would you want me to just leave it there?
- No, you would want me to help wouldn’t you?
Jesus is not forbidding correcting a brother or a sister who is involved in sin…or whose life is not what it should be.
- As brothers in Christ we are to help…instruct…and possibly even rebuke.
What Jesus is condemning here is being critical of another without being critical of ourselves.
- Judging another without first judging ourselves.
Let’s say that I approach a brother, I have two grown children and neither has remained faithful, and I arrogantly approach a brother and criticize him because his children are not attending services, how affective am I going to be in helping that brother?
- If I approach him and say, “Brother, as a father whose children have drifted away from Christ, whose children are caught up in denominational teachings, let me talk to you about your children”…which of these two approaches will have the better chance of success?
If we see our situation first…we might be a little bit slower in criticizing and condemning someone else.
- When we see our own short comings then we will not approach a brother in judgment…instead we will approach him as a fellow sinner…trying to help.
Jesus is saying, if you want to help your brother with his sin you have to take the huge plank if self-righteousness out of your own eye…because it is then and only then that you can truly see to help your brother.
- As long as we have a self-righteous attitude we will not help a brother…we will only criticize and judge.
Jesus is not telling us that we are not to make any judgments of people at all.
- Sometimes we must make some judgments for the sake of safety and well-being both physically and spiritually.
- Sometimes we must make some judgments for the well-being of others.
- Jesus is not telling us that we can’t sit on a jury.
- What Jesus is telling us is having a “holier than thou”, self-righteous critical attitude that sees others with contempt and condemnation is wrong.
- That kind of attitude will draw no one to Christ.
- Over the years that kind of attitude has driven people away from our assemblies.
- And we are not in the driving away business…we are in the “bring them to Christ” business.
- We are to save if we can…and not condemn.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023