Raise your hand if you want to be seen as judgmental. Any takers? Me neither.
But how many times have you been shut down by this little slogan–“Who Are You To Judge?” After all, didn’t Jesus say “Do not judge so that you will not be judged?” Hmmmm….that does sound like something from the Bible…
Yes, Jesus did say that. But most people have misunderstood the point that Jesus was trying to make there.
And if you’re able to master the context of this oft quoted but frequently misapplied passage then you will be ready to help your friends and family think more clearly about important spiritual and moral truths. And every step towards the truth is a really big deal!
Move Over John 3:16…
Many people today may know John 3:16 is in the Bible and has something to do with Jesus, but Matthew 7:1 has surpassed it as the most quoted Bible verse in our increasingly secular culture.
Let’s take a closer look at this famous passage found in Matthew 7. For the full context, we will examine verses 1-6:
“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.”
Is Jesus’ point here that we are not to say that what someone else is doing may be morally wrong or spiritually misguided? The short answer is clearly and unequivocally no. How do we know that? Because if so, then Jesus disobeyed his own command within only a paragraph!
Look at verse 5. Jesus calls people hypocrites. Gasp! Jesus was judgmental too? Actually, lets be more specific. Given this group’s behavior, he makes the informed judgment that they are hypocrites.
And in the next verse he makes another judgement that dogs don’t deserve what is sacred and pigs aren’t worthy of pearls. By the way, dogs and pigs represent people and their attitudes towards what is truly valuable–ouch.
So what is Jesus against?
thinking that you are morally or spiritually superior to someone else or earning God’s special favor by obeying the rules.
Jesus both assumes and illustrates in his life and teachings that making judgements is not only unavoidable but completely necessary and appropriate.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line: Jesus is for making judgments between good and evil, what is morally right and wrong, and what is true and what is false. What he was completely against was people using knowledge of the truth to beat people up with, belittle, or make themselves appear morally superior.
Once we look at the context of this passage, it becomes obvious that we need to grow in our ability to make judgments. But we need to be aware of our hearts ability to become self righteous. There is no room for arrogance in the Christian life.
The psalmist’s prayer is a good reminder to check our hearts:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
But we also need the moral courage to stand for truth in the midst of these common slogans and not buckle under the pressure of those who think God’s revealed truth is outdated.
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