As I have been writing this “series” if you will, I have been forced to make some changes in my own thought-life. Passing judgment is something that is almost instinctual to me. It feels so natural. It comes so easy. It’s east to look at someone and determine what I think about a person by what they look like, how they dress, or how they talk and act. However, just because it is so easy that doesn’t make it right, right?
I guess the things we really need to observe are the comments Jesus makes about passing judging others. He says in the Sermon on the Mount,
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.3 “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? 4 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? 5 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” (Matt. 7:1-5, NIV).
All I can say is “ouch.”
Jesus tells us that if we judge someone, we are going to be judged. A really good understanding of the Greek reveals that Christ is saying, “Don’t let judgmentalism become a part of your lifestyle” or “don’t get into the habit of being judgmental.” The reason you should run from a judgmental spirit is that such an attitude directly affects how others, including God, respond to our inadequacies.
In verses 3-5, Jesus says that we should examine ourselves before we start examining and faultfinding others. Now, this statement is not prohibiting any critical thought of others, but don’t take that as a license to kill. Actually, I think Jesus wants us to be receptive and sensitive to the faults of others (18:15-18), Also, the next verse tells us that we need to be really discerning to those who lack receptivity to the Gospel (7:8).
As Jack Cottrell says,
“What Jesus condemns is a censorious judgmentalism which is preoccupied with faultfinding in others while refusing to honestly assess the enormity of one’s own failures. The graphic illustration contrasting a speck of sawdust with a plank (dokov”, dokos, “beam of wood” BAGD, p. 203) intentionally exaggerates the absurdity of pointing out the minor flaws of another, while at the same time ignoring the far more serious shortcomings in one’s own life. Furthermore, Jesus insists that only by an awareness of personal failures can one adequately assess and properly treat the spiritual wounds of others. Jesus calls his followers to a scrupulous self-judgment as a prerequisite to the unimpaired vision necessary for helping others.” (College Press NIV Commentary).
So what should the conclusion be in the matter of passing judgment? Some will take this passage to me it is wrong to say anything to anyone about anything. I don’t believe that is what Jesus is saying here. If someone is doing something that hurts someone, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we have the obligation to step up and say something. What He is warning us about is that we need to check our faults, failures, and lives before we begin to try and “fix” other people’s. The ultimate reality is that God will decide who gets into Heaven and who goes to Hell. That is never our place. If we’re gut honest, we realize that we have enough faults, failures, and sins that should keep us from focusing on the flaws of others.
Also, God has laid out a way to talk to one another in Matthew 18:15-17 when the time does come to speak to a brother or sister about something. We should go to them and them alone at first and 99.9% if the time a peaceable solution will be found. Jesus does lay out how the process continues if that doesn’t work, and we should strive to follow it. Next time you feel like passing judgment ask yourself, “Am I doing the same thing?” “Is this a salvation issue?” and “Do I have the right to make the judgment?” Just something to think about. – Scott