In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed the issue of judgment. He said to His disciples: “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.” We must be extra cautious in how we understand this verse because it has been greatly misused over the years. Let us consider:
Stop Judging One Another
Jesus told His disciples, “Do not judge so that you won’t be judged.” The type of judgment Jesus is referring to is sinful because it comes from a position of perceived superiority. When Jesus says, “Do not judge”, He is telling us not to act as someone’s judge. Jesus does not call us to be critics who regularly make our criticisms heard. A critical spirit is deadly to spiritual maturity and to the local Church. Churches do not die because of external persecution. Churches die when its members “bite and devour one another [and]…are consumed by one another” (Gal 5:15). Criticism of the sermons (too long, too boring, too weak, etc.), criticism of the music (not enough hymns, not enough new songs, stand too long, etc.), criticism of the youth (too loud, weirdly dressed, etc.), criticism of the pastor (doesn’t do this enough, is too focused on that, etc.) and so on and so on destroys churches.
We must all refrain from a critical spirit that sits in judgment against anything and anyone that fails to meet a self-made standard. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” Jesus cautions us against judging because “with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” If your judgment is bitter, resentful, prideful, and unforgiving…you will receive the same judgment yourself. Therefore, we must refuse to set ourselves up as a judge and instead entrust all judgment to God. You must also attend to yourself before you start looking towards the faults and failings of others.
Share God’s Judgment with One Another
When Jesus told His disciples not to judge, He was telling them that God is the only Judge. Rather than criticizing one another for what we perceive as faults and failures, we must remind one another of God’s judgment. This is one reason why reading your Bible is very important. Christians must know what God tells us about how to “live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27). We need to know what God says is good and what is sinful. We need to know how to think, speak, and act as Christians. We need to know and obey what is pleasing to God. We need to know this for ourselves and we must share it with others. Paul Tripp says it well, “Jesus does not forbid the evaluation of others. He forbids the condemnation of others.” Jesus then gives two examples (specks and logs & pigs and dogs) of how we must judge properly.
Specks and Logs
Jesus calls us to reject hypocritical judging and be careful evaluators. Hypocritical judging is judgment based on our standards while careful judging is based on God’s standards. Jesus tells us to align our evaluation with God’s judgment. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log that is in your own eye?” In other words, “Why are you more focused on fixing other people than you are on being fixed yourself?” How can we be so fixated on the faults and problems of others (specks), when our faults and problems are worse (logs). You may not think your issues are worse than someone else’s, but the very fact that they pertain to you, should make them a higher priority for you. Paul Tripp once again said it well: “When you think you have this righteousness thing licked then you quit being concerned about you and you focus your concern on the sins of others. Sin causes me to be all too convinced of my righteousness and too focused on your sin.”
Jesus said, “Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” If a person can’t see a log in his own eye, He is not seeing clearly enough to help someone else remove a speck from their eye. We need to cleanse the logs from our eyes so that we can cleanse the specks out of others. Jesus wants us to pursue holiness first, then encourage others to holiness as well.
Pigs and Dogs
Jesus continued: “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.” In Jesus’ day, pigs were ceremonially unclean animals and dogs were not considered cute pets, but wild and unclean scavengers. This section is difficult to understand, but most likely Jesus is telling His followers that we must be bold and discerning with our gospel witness. We must share the gospel with everyone everywhere and be willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel. Having said that, when we encounter men and women who so utterly reject and ridicule the gospel message, we must make the judgment to turn away from them and speak no more with them. We must remember Jesus’ words: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (Matt 10:14). lt is important for us to be able to discern the pigs and the dogs for the sake of the gospel.
As Christians, we have to daily crucify self-interest. This is why Jesus tells us to remove the log from our eye before we go looking for a speck in someone else’s eye. This is why we must know what the Bible says and share it boldly. This is why we must treasure the gospel message as holy and precious. We are to love and care for one another, not criticize and judge one another. We must remember that as believers we may have genuine disagreements. Our disagreements should not cause us to judge or criticize. However, we must, in love, speak truthfully with one another. We are not given the right to judge.