Summary: A humorous picture - the plank of wood in the eye... Christians are often accused of being Judgmental. But the Lord Jesus teaches His people to say NO to Judgmentalism, YES to Humility, and YES to Restoring others.
Steve Martin once said, “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.” Now that isn’t the kind of attitude Jesus was talking about! But Jesus does paint a funny picture for us here in Matthew 7: A person walking around with a plank of wood in his eye, trying to take the speck out of others’ eyes. Yes, this is a picture of someone who has issues in his or her own life but condemns others for the issues they have.
Today we’re going to think about Judgmentalism, Humility and Restoration.
Jesus says Don’t judge. Paul repeats that message in his letters to the Roman and Corinthian churches. And James said it too. This is not just an add-on. This is central to God’s will for his people. Why is it then, that God’s people are so often accused of being judgemental? I think it’s because neither the world nor we have taken to heart what Jesus says here in these verses.
First, A Warning...
Don’t judge, or you too will be judged. To judge others is a dangerous thing! Only God is fit to judge. So if we judge others, we take the place that only God can take. That’s pride. That’s superiority. And that’s punished.
Secondly, A Clarification...
When Jesus says Don’t judge, let’s clarify what he isn’t saying. He isn’t saying, Don’t have any opinions. That’s impossible. We all have opinions about the things others say and do. John Stott puts it this way: “Jesus does not tell us to cease to be [human] (by suspending our critical powers which help to distinguish us from animals) but to renounce the presumptuous ambition to be God (by setting ourselves up as judges).” We’re still allowed to tell right from wrong when we see it!
In verses 3-5 we’re going to see that Jesus is condemning a different kind of judging; it’s the kind which isn’t really interested in the well-being of the other person at all. The type of judging where we look at something we think is wrong in a person and it makes us feel good! We say things like ‘I AM surprised that he did or didn’t do such and such... Or why is she doing that, wearing that, eating that? And it makes us good to have found this weak spot in the other person. It makes us feel bigger and better. But at the end of the day, we’re not really bothered about the person’s well being. We’re only interested in the good feeling we get when we have discovered their fault. And boy, does it feel good when we’ve found something wrong with them!
Jesus’ way is different. He says when you see a problem, a sin, or an issue in a person’s life go and repent. Yes you! v5, first take the plank out of your own eye.
In other words, first go to prayer. Sit down in God’s presence and they say Lord, I’ve seen such and such in Philip. But Lord, how am I doing in that area? Lord, I’m not better than Philip but I’m tempted to think that I am. I’ve got issues that you need to deal with in me that are probably far bigger than Philip’s issues. Lord, help me deal with my issues. Lord help me to grow.
You see, the thing is, maybe if I realized all Philip had been through in his life I would be amazed he’s as good as he is!
I remember going on a mission trip once. The assistant leader was a young lady - we’ll call her ’Ellen’. She was a real pain in the neck. Most of us soon got fed up with her. We thought she was pushy, bossy, slimy and rude. But on the last night of our mission trip we had a group time of telling each other our life story of how we came to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. When Ellen told her story we were rooted to our seats. She’d had a difficult upbringing, lots of heartache. But she’d come to know Jesus. Well, the ice melted, and we all realised why Ellen was like she was. And a miracle happened: we started to like her. You see we had judged Ellen. We had formed opinions about her without knowing the full story. We had not been spiritual.
Will you turn with me to Galatians 6:1? (Read)
The spiritual person here is the one who’s taken the plank of wood out of their own eye; the humble person. Galatians 6:1 is just confirming what Jesus is saying here in Matthew.