[This was originally from a study that I did a couple of years ago of the Gospel of Matthew]
You are in a supermarket and all of a sudden you hear a mother berating her child rather harshly. You think to yourself, "Wow! That mom needs to learn to be a little more patient with her child. She should not be talking to him that way." At that exact moment you remember an incident in your not too distant past, where you lost it in the store due to lack of sleep and the insistence of a child that would not take "no" for an answer. You just wanted desperately to leave her crying in the store and you remember the looks of disgust from your fellow shoppers and you remember thinking, "If only they could spend an hour in my shoes they would understand." And yet here you are having walked in your shoes and you don't understand. You sit in judgment of another woman in the exact same circumstance, having learned nothing from your own experience.
This type of judgmental is common, we all do it and we even see it in the Bible. The Lord sent Nathan to David in order to rebuke him for having Uriah killed and taking his wife. When Nathan told David of a rich man who stole a poor man's one and only lamb, David was ready to condemn the rich man to death. It's a good thing that God didn't judge David in the harsh manner he judged another, God allowed David to repent and live. God is more merciful than David was.
What does Jesus mean by judging? The type of judgment Jesus is talking about here is the harsh judgment we have towards others. Judgment that lacks mercy, humility and love. We see this in the parallel passage in Luke:
Luke 6:36-37 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgivenWhat Jesus is saying here is that we have to be aware of our lack of love before we approach those that are in need of help. We have to realize that we sinners and should not seat in judgment of others; every single Christian is a beggar who has been given bread and we are just telling other beggars where to go to eat. We have nothing to sit in judgment about -- we are not all that!
We have to judge the actions of others but we are called not to be harsh or judgmental:
John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."
1 Cor. 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
Philip. 3:2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
And in this chapter Jesus says that we are not to throw our pearls before swine, for us to do this, there would have to be some judgment on our part as to who is a swine.
So, yes there is a place for judgment but it has to be down with love, compassion and mercy and with self-awareness:
1 Cor. 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fallHendriksen says "To be discriminating and critical is necessary; to be hypercritical is wrong."
Our judgment of our brothers and sisters has a serious impact on the church. Usually when we are being judgmental, we are actually acting out of ignorance of the context of the other's actions. We may think someone is sinning when they are not. The mother in the supermarket is a perfect example of this. Another is a situation I run into a lot. Since I am bold in my statement of the truth claims of the Bible, that I state unequivocally that there is one truth and that it can be known, I have been labeled arrogant, boastful, opinionated and prideful. And while these things are generally apt descriptions of my nature, they are not apt descriptions of my attitude when it comes to the word of God. I am not being arrogant to state that the word of God is true and that the doctrines that I teach from it are also true, I am being the exact opposite. I am actually being humble because I am not promoting my own opinion but the view of Scripture itself. I am submitting myself to not only what the Bible says but the testimony to the theology of God's word by His church.
I am not making up a view of God that is independent from Scripture or the witness of the church but is in keeping with both. This is the essence of humility. And when I defend it against the attacks of others, I am defending it out of its own witness of itself and out of love of God and His word. I do this in humility as well because when I defend it I do not use my own words or arguments but the words of God Himself and his church.
Those who would argue against our knowing the truth of God ndemonstrate the very characteristic that they condemn in me. They view the deity of Christ as truth, they view the salvific nature of His work as truth, they view the doctrine of the Trinity as truth and yet all of these doctrines have been in dispute throughout church history. Others would judge them in the same light as they have judged me.
The problem that arises when I am viewed in this light is that my witness to GodÂs word is impaired because what I have to say is now considered tainted by what has been judged as an arrogant attitude. I may be speaking truth but no one is listening. Judgment has broken the line of communication between us. In this example, I hope that you can see that the judgment of others can cause serious problems in the body.
But what if the charge were true and I was being arrogant, then the loving Christian thing to do would be to point it out in love and humility. With the complete understanding that you have probably been guilty of pride, arrogance and boasting some time in your life.
Why is the sin of another considered a spec and your sin is considered a log? Because the little tiny sin that another has committed is nothing compared to your self-righteous attitude. If you are without sin cast the first stone. And yet you sit in judgment of the actions of others.
A self-righteous and judgmental attitude is the worst. Look how harshly Jesus dealt with the Pharisees. Whatever the sin of the person that we judge it is nothing compared to our own lack of love and compassion. How can we, who have received so much love and mercy look at others without love and mercy? How can we be so thankless for the mercy that has been given to us.
Psalm 31:23Jesus' word for those who would judge others without realizing their own sin, is hypocrite!
Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
Those who sit in judgment of others should be aware that they are being judged judgmental by others. We know those who judge us, we are aware that you hold us in contempt. And we wind up judging you because of it. By the measure that you judge, you are being judged by others. Not only that but your lack of mercy will be judged by God.
How do we take this log out of our eye? I hope that those who had a log in their eye had it removed by the Holy Spirit as you submitted to His illuminating this truth in your heart, showing you your sin and giving you the power and the desire to want to take the log out. To look at others in the light of Christ's love, compassion and mercy. If I had thought of Christ's love and mercy in the supermarket, I would not have judged that mom as harshly as I did. And I would not judge those who would judge me.