Context Of Judging

Therefore, Jesus doesn't forbid all moral judgment or accountability. Rather, he forbids harsh, prideful, and hypocritical judgment that condemns others outright without first evaluating one’s own spiritual condition and commitment to forsake sin.
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Scripture: Matthew 7:1-6 NIV

As we continue with our series, “Kingdom of Heaven”, we will now talk about the time when Jesus teaches about judging others.

It is found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where He teaches what it means to live faithfully as a committed follower of God, one who pursues holiness out of reverence for Him. he's proclaiming a high moral standard that's in keeping with what it means to measure as a citizen of the kingdom of God.

In other words, people who repent and place their faith and trust in Jesus alone for his or her salvation become “children of God,” are adopted into God’s kingdom. Believers who live in this kingdom are called to live differently, and Jesus is explaining what that appears like in a very practical sense. His words aren't hard to grasp as he sets up a powerful moral ethic that reflects what it means to love God with all of your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

“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.” Matthew 7:1-6 NIV

When we say “Don’t judge.”

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

It is a phrase that has been used a lot of times during argumentative conversations or in defensive moments when someone is confronted about their behavior: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” These famous words from Jesus are recited by many but profoundly misunderstood. It is arguable that Matthew 7:1 is by far the foremost frequently misapplied verse within the entire Bible, used and abused by both Christians and non-Christians. Those who mishandle this verse often use it as a “shield for sin,” a barrier to keep others at bay, allowing them to justify living as they please with none regard for moral boundaries or accountability. Their objections sound like this: “Aren’t we all sinners? What gives us the right to make moral judgments about someone else? Isn’t that God’s job?”.

In the beginning of the verses, Jesus tells us to examine our own motives and conduct instead of judging others. The traits that bother us in others are often the habits we dislike in ourselves. Our untamed bad habits and behavior patterns are the very ones that we most want to change in others.

Question: Do you find it easy to magnify other’s faults while excusing your own?

Romans 14:13 (NIV) said, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

In Romans 2:1 (NIV), “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

In that sermon, Jesus’ intent wasn't so that the verse can’t be used to substantiate unrestrained moral freedom, autonomy, and independence. He wasn't advocating a hands-off approach to moral accountability, refusing to permit anyone to create moral judgments in any sense. It totally isn’t, but rather, He was explicitly rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who were quick to work out the sins of others but were blind and unwilling to carry themselves accountable to the identical standard they were imposing on everyone else.

It’s for hypocrites!

In verses 3-5, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus was looking right at the Pharisees when he said this. repeatedly throughout the Gospels, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their blatant hypocrisy and impossible man-made standards. They were notorious for condemning the shortcomings of others when all the while they were those who stood condemned because they were doing the exact same things.

His teaching about judging is against the sort of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others all the way down to build oneself up. it's not a blanket statement against all critical thinking, but a call to be discerning instead of negative. Notice that Jesus says the hypocrite are the one with the larger problem. Why? Because their sin wasn't merely similar to a speck of dust; it absolutely was more sort of a wooden plank.

In John 8:7-9 (NIV), “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.”

What this means is that the greater judgment is reserved for the one who has purposefully overlooked his own mammoth sin while pointing out the smaller sins of others. Jesus emphatically says this must change, so he gives two commands:

- Stop judging others in a hypocritical way; and
- Get the sin you’re judging to others out of your own life.

Yet let’s be clear. Jesus is not suggesting that we have no right to make moral judgments about human behavior, and he is certainly not suggesting we have no right to hold others accountable. He doesn’t condemn mutual accountability and moral responsibility and the need to address sin in the church—he addresses hypocrisy.

But it makes little sense to approach a Christian brother or sister about their specific sin if you are committing the very same sin and are unwilling to address it or break free from it.

Unfortunately, much damage has been brought to the reputation of the church by Christians who say one thing and do another. This is often to not say we will ever be perfect, but it's of utmost importance that we live lives of consistency and integrity so as to safeguard the name of Christ, whom we represent, as well as the reputation of His church.

The truth of the matter is, we should always all be grieved about sin in our lives. And after we see it, we should always address it, confessing it and forsaking it out of reverence for God. it's only if we are consistently doing this ourselves that we are qualified and ready to address the sins within the lives of our brothers and sisters within the church, which we must do as well.

The Bible makes it clear that it's our duty to spur each other on to live lives that please God. First, our lives should give evidence that we've truly repented of our sin and received Christ by faith. Then from time to time, as necessary, we also are called to mutually correct, rebuke, and encourage each other in love.

Again, nobody will reach perfection during this life, but together we are to wage war against and forsake the sin that results from living in our fallen flesh. We are to “take off the old life,” so to speak, and “put on the new,” growing in holiness out of reverence for God. But the fact is we can’t accomplish this without the assistance of the indwelling holy spirit and the mutual encouragement and accountability of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We can’t do that alone; we need each other!

Discern Who to Teach

In verse 6, Jesus went on to talk about dogs and pigs. Now what could He mean by that? according to God’s law in Deuteronomy 14:8, “The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. you are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses” - (chew the cud - one of the marks of cleanliness, in the sense of fitness for food, regurgitates, ruminating). in the old testament, anyone who touched an unclean animal became “ceremonially unclean” and could not go to the temple to worship until the uncleanliness was removed. Now this doesn't mean that we are like pigs in a literal sense, but in here Jesus is telling us that we should not entrust holy teachings to unholy or unclean people. it's futile to try to teach holy concepts to people that don’t want to listen and will only tear apart what we say. Proverbs 23:9 (NLT) says, “Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.”

Still, we should always not stop giving and sharing God’s Word to unbelievers, but we must always be wise and discerning in what we teach to whom.

To end, since we've been commissioned to proclaim a message of repentance and faith to those outside the church who must hear the good news, certainly we need to proclaim the same message of repentance and faith to those inside the church.

Therefore, Jesus doesn't forbid all moral judgment or accountability. Rather, he forbids harsh, prideful, and hypocritical judgment that condemns others outright without first evaluating one’s own spiritual condition and commitment to forsake sin.

Sources: Tyndale Life Application Study Bible (NIV),