Matthew 7:1-11 (ESV)
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 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? 4 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? 5 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. 6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
In this section, Jesus teaches about making judgments and begins with a statement that has been misused by many. He says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” If no extra explanation were given, we might believe the error that many opponents of Christianity have concluded: Christians should not judge. But as we read the passage in context, we see that Jesus does provide clarification. It’s not that we shouldn’t judge. It’s that we shouldn’t judge wrongly. So, how do we judge wrongly? Three key truths about wrong judging emerge from verses 1-3. First, we should not be people who are habitually critical or harsh. Second, we need to realize that those we judge are probably judging us in return. And finally, we must guard against practicing the very things we are condemning in others. Jesus taught that the point of judgment is to “get the speck out of our brother’s eye” or to help a brother deal with sin in his life. But to get that “speck” or splinter out, we need to be aware of the potential “log” or wooden beam in our own eye. At the same time, we can’t try to beat wisdom into someone who really has no interest in the things of God. When the gospel is blatantly rejected, we need to move on.
What Jesus said about the speck and the log is actually pretty funny. Can you imagine someone struggling to get a small splinter out of another person’s eye with a giant beam stuck in her own? How strange we must look to God when we jump all over one another without dealing with the sin in our own lives. Christian judgment should be loving, kind, honest, and purposeful. Remember, Jesus was not saying that we should never judge, but when we do, as we should, we need to be incredibly careful to judge rightly. What about you? Are you a critical person? Do others know you as a fault-finder? When you judge people, are you aware of the fact that they may be judging you for the very same thing you are pointing out in them? And when you judge, are repentance and reconciliation your goals? Jesus doesn’t tell us to just leave the speck there. Let’s help our sister get that splinter out of her eye! But let’s make certain that when we judge, we do it in a way that is pleasing to God.