This may be one of those passages that prevents us from confronting a sinning brother, so let’s seek to understand it. Here is a question to get us started: “What is Jesus calling for in this passage?” no judgment? self-judgment? fair judgment? divine judgment?
The religious leaders were guilty of exercising a false judgment about themselves, other people, and even the Lord. Their false righteousness helped to encourage their false judgment. It may be why Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with a discussion on judgment. There really are three judgments:
- Our judgment of ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5)
- Our judgment of others (Matthew 7:6-20)
- Our judgment by God (Matthew 7:21-29)
Our passage today brings us to the first section, judgment of ourselves. This is the first principle for a reason. Jesus did not forbid that we judge others, but we are to first judge ourselves. This involves careful discrimination and discernment. Christian love is not blind (Philippians 1:9-10). The person who believes all that he hears and accepts everyone who claims to be spiritual will experience confusion and suffer spiritual loss.
- We will be judged (Matthew 7:1) – the tense of the verb indicates a one-time final judgement. when we judge ourselves, we are preparing ourselves for that final judgment when we face God. The Pharisees played God as they condemned other people; and they never considered that God would one day judge them.
- We are being judged (Matthew 7:2) – this parallel passage in Luke 6:37-38 is helpful here. Not only will God judge us at the end, but people are being judged right now. We will receive from people exactly what we give. The kind of judgment and the measure of judgment come right back to us. We reap that which we sow.
- We must see clearly to help others (Matthew 7:3-5) – the purpose of self-judgment is so that we are able to serve others. When we don’t judge ourselves, we hurt those to who we should minister. The Pharisees judged others to make themselves look good (Luke 18:9-14), but Christians should judge themselves so they can help others look good.
The eye is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, which Jesus used on a few occasions to make a point (like Matthew 6:22-23). We must exercise love and tenderness when we seek to help other people (Ephesians 4:15). There are two extremes to avoid in this spiritual self-examination:
- The deception of a shallow examination: we can be so sure of ourselves that we fail to examine our hearts honestly and thoroughly. The quick glance is not helpful (James 1:22-25).
- The debilitation of a perpetual autopsy: we can get unbalanced as we focus too much on ourselves, which leads to discouragement and defeat. Jesus forgives and restores, and Satan is the accuser (Revelation 12:10) and loves to condemn God’s people. Ask God to remove those things that blind us. When we KNOW of our sins and attempt to help others… that is called hypocrisy. That is the condemnation of Jesus.
We must exercise discernment because not everyone is a sheep, there are some wolves out there. We cannot let the wolves pull the wool over our eyes.
The reason we must judge (Matthew 7:6) – it is a privilege to handle the holy things of God, and he has entrusted his Word to us (2 Corinthians 4:7). No priest with throw meat from the altar to the street dog, or give pearls to a pig. So, while we are commanded to take the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), we cannot cheapen the gospel by a ministry that lacks discernment.
- Even Jesus refused to talk with Herod (Luke 23:9)
- Even Paul refused to argue with people who resisted the Word (Acts 13:44-49)
The reason for judgment: it is not that we might condemn others, but that we might be able to minister to them. Jesus always dealt with people according to the needs; there was no memorized presentation he used for everyone.
- Nicodemus – he talked about new birth.
- The woman at the well – he talked about living water.
- When the religious leaders tried to trap him – he remained silent (Matthew 21:23-27).
This is one of the most debilitating verses in the Bible, because if we say anything about someone else, they throw this verse back in our face, “Judge not, lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1-6). This is an issue that has confused many people.
- On one hand, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).
- On the other hand, the Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil.
- How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?
Christians are often accused of “judging” whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, “Do not judge.”
- There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment (John 7:24).
- When Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. Matthew 7:2-5 says, “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.”
- What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others.
In Matthew 7:2-5, Jesus warns against judging someone else for his sin when you yourself are sinning even worse. That is the kind of judging Jesus commanded us not to do.
- If a believer sees another believer sinning, it is his Christian duty to lovingly and respectfully confront the person with his sin (Matthew 18:15-17).
- This is not judging, but rather pointing out the truth in hope—and with the ultimate goal—of bringing repentance in the other person (James 5:20) and restoration to the fellowship.
- We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We are to proclaim what God’s Word says about sin. 2 Timothy 4:2 instructs us, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.”
- We are to “judge” sin, but always with the goal of presenting the solution for sin and its consequences—the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
- According to Matthew 7:6, let’s also assess a person’s heart before we share the pearl of great price.