First Mennonite Church
June 15, 2014
Jesus Says: Do Not Judge
Text: Matthew 7: 1-6
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “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? 4 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? 5 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.
6 “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.
Sometimes people refuse to be corrected by quoting Jesus: Do not judge. So therefore the question, is Jesus prohibiting all and any kind of passing judgment? If that’s the case, all the people who are law-breakers would be freely walking on our streets. Parents would not have the authority to correct and discipline their children. Christians would not have the freedom to distinguish erroneous teaching from orthodoxy. If all forms of judgment are banned in this commandment, the world would be chaotic; upholding morality would be difficult, if not impossible.
If all forms of judgment and discrimination are banned by the commandment: do not judge, then how can we Christians offer mutual support, guidance and correction? How can we distinguish and offer correction when our fellow members are not walking the right path? How can we practice the following biblical instructions?
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over?” Matthew 18:15-17.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
The commandment not to judge others would be not only confusing, but sort of contradictory to other biblical instructions had Jesus not also given further explanation immediately after this command. To illustrate his point regarding his prohibition of judging, Jesus used a hyperbole involving an extreme example to show the point. And so Jesus posed the following situation: “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 (vv.3-5).
It is important to take notice of three major points regarding the act of judging Jesus is prohibiting. First it is not directed to the judicial system. It is directed to the community of Jesus’ followers. Secondly, what Jesus gives as an explanation of the command is actually a command on how to do the judging. That itself is sort of a contradiction. The hyperbole of the plank in the eye is intended to raise self-awareness regarding the moral conditions of the one who wants to point out that something is wrong in another. Jesus wanted to emphasize the importance of self-examination before we offer correction to others. The third is that correction should be offered upon noticing that something is not right. Jesus implies that within the community of his followers readiness to offer correction should be a natural characteristic.
By nature, we are ready to see the speck in others’ eyes. Whether this readiness to see the speck in others’ eyes is an unconscious way to divert the attention away from us because of the possibility of having a “plank” stuck in our eye or simply because we as humans crave to feel good and self-righteous, nonetheless, such is often the case.
It seems that Jesus was not against helping others to remove the speck in their eyes. In fact, he seems to be encouraging his followers to do just that. The problem arises when we fail to realize that we have a “plank” in our own eye. So the question, how is your sight?
If we are to care for one another in church community to the point of helping each other to see well, we need to have good sight ourselves. It is, therefore, very important that we do not have a log stuck in our eye. It will make us blind to the truth and real situation of others. Our judgment of others can be biased because we cannot see the whole picture. Not only can it be that we cannot see the whole picture, but that we have an even bigger problem. Romans 2:3 says, “So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on others and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” The Apostle Paul warns that anytime we want to correct others we better make sure that we are not doing the same things. We need to judge righteously. As Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). This verse relates well with the popular saying: “Do not judge a book by its cover.”
We sometimes criticize others unfairly. We don’t know all their circumstances, nor their motives. Only God, who is aware of all the facts, is able to judge people righteously. John Wesley told of a man he had little respect for because Wesley considered him to be stingy and covetous. One day when this person contributed only a small gift to a worthy charity, Wesley openly criticized him.
After the incident, the man went to Wesley privately and told him he had been living on parsnips and water for several weeks. He explained that before his conversion, he had run up many bills. Now, by skimping on everything and buying nothing for himself he was paying off his creditors one by one. “Christ has made me an honest man,” he said, “and so with all these debts to pay, I can give only a small offerings above my tithe. I must settle up with my worldly neighbors and show them what the grace of God can do in the heart of a man who was once dishonest.” Wesley then apologized to the man and asked his forgiveness (Judging, sermonillustrations.com, Friday, June 13, 2014).
Judging others also damages the spirit of those who are judged. This is even more so when these are children. Many members in our society have their spirit broken because they only heard harsh criticism when they were young. Most often unhappy people who have difficulty making friends or who are jealous of others for having friends are victim themselves of abuse, lies, and negative criticism. Many in our society who believe they are worth nothing is because they were fed with that negative message by parents, teachers, or friends. That is why in Matthew 18, verse 6, Jesus sternly warns against becoming stumbling blocks to the little one.
Not too long ago, someone said to me, after he could not fix something inside his house: “My dad always told me I was good for nothing.”
One last reason we should not judge others is because only God is worthy of judging. He is the only one who knows more than what the appearance shows. He knows the heart. But not only that, God is also merciful. Before God judges us, He offers us his grace to repent. Before he renders a sentence, he offers us forgiveness.
Let us, therefore, be aware of our own weaknesses at the time we offer to correct another. Let us encourage one another instead of critiquing one another. Not judging others does not mean we will agree with the practices, belief, or ideas of others.
Richard Mouw, former president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, tells of the following incident in his book Uncommon Decency:
At a recent gathering of seminary professors, one teacher reported that at his school the most damaging charge one student can lodge against another is that the person is being “judgmental.” He found this pattern very upsetting. “You can’t get a good argument going in class anymore,” he said. “As soon as somebody takes a stand on any important issue, someone else says that the person is being judgmental. And that’s it. End of discussion. Everyone is intimidated!” Many of the other professors nodded knowingly. There seemed to be a consensus that the fear of being judgmental has taken on epidemic proportions.
Is the call for civility just another way of spreading this epidemic? If so, then I’m against civility. But I really don’t think that this is what being civil is all about. Christian civility does not commit us to a relativistic perspective. Being civil doesn’t mean that we cannot criticize what goes on around us. Civility doesn’t require us to approve of what other people believe and do. It is one thing to insist that other people have the right to express their basic convictions; it is another thing to say that they are right in doing so. Civility requires us to live by the first of these principles. But it does not commit us to the second formula. To say that all beliefs and values deserve to be treated as if they were on a par is to endorse relativism — a perspective that is incompatible with Christian faith and practice. Christian civility does not mean refusing to make judgments about what is good and true. For one thing, it really isn’t possible to be completely nonjudgmental. Even telling someone else that she is being judgmental is a rather judgmental thing to do!
Jesus says,“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.
 Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, InterVarsity Press, (2010, p. 20)
I don’t know why and do regret that your final two paragraphs have disappeared and that my computer won’t let me retype them in their proper place. My only suggestion for them is for you to be sure there is a space after “Jesus says, and after “judged.”
Somewhere down here add your name as is your practice?