Remove the Board
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 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.
Let me begin with a hypothetical. Imagine you’re at a wedding where people are usually dressed nicely, you’re wearing a suit and tie, or a nice dress. Point being, that you’re dressed nicely for the event. Now imagine that at this wedding reception, you see someone wearing dirty clothes, maybe jeans and a t-shirt. What are your first thought upon seeing this person? I can tell you from experience of being in a nice restaurant or even at a wedding, my first thoughts are usually,” Why are they dressed like that?” or “Do they know where they are?”
Matthew 7 opens with Jesus saying, “Judge not, that you be not judged for with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
As we go down the passage, Jesus tells a humorous story of two brothers working presumably as carpenters and one brother says to the other, Hey, you got a speck of dust in your eye! The response was then from the other brother saying, have you seen the big old two by four in your own eye?
So what is Jesus saying? Are we not to judge others?
I’d like to break this up into two pieces. When we are not supposed to judge and when we are supposed to judge.
The first question you need you need to ask yourself when you recognize you’re judging someone else is, “Is this coming from a place of pride?” During issues of pride-filled judgement, we start to set ourselves on a pedestal and to wrongly interpret what could be happening in someone’s life. The other side of our pride-filled judgement is that it comes from a place where we believe that we know better than the other person we are judging.
The second question we need to ask ourselves when judging is, “Is this coming from a place of insecurity?” If we are being real with ourselves, we are frequently critical of others. We can see that in our television all the time! My favorite example is a tone deaf person, watching American Idol, passing judgment on contestants from their couch. What Jesus wanted us to learn from this is that we are not to hypocritically judge others. Get past your hubris or insecurities, and don’t judge others blindly, flippantly, self-righteously, or ignorantly.
Now, back to the beginning analogy, the guy under dressed at the wedding. If we were to judge him, would we be judging him out of the fact that I’m dressed up nicely or that I feel under dressed as well? And if we answer those questions, can I honestly judge him since I don’t know his heart, his life, or his story?
Now that we have worked through when not to judge someone, let’s tackle the second half of this - When should we judge someone?
Christians are called to come along side each other to sharpen and to point out areas to grow in. We are never to stop growing and sometimes God uses other people to spur us on or help when we have stumbled even if we don’t necessarily see it. But this is done through the Spirit with Christ like love and understanding. Because only God knows the heart, we cannot pass judgments on motive and intention.