Summary: First in two-part series on judging, this message based on Matthew 7:1-5.
Judging - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
July 10, 2005
Have you ever had someone say to you, "Stop being so judgmental"? I have, a number of times, and generally a not-so-pleasant conversation begins.
Jesus commanded his followers to impact the world for him, and that involves telling others what Jesus and the rest of the Bible says about things.
Few issues create as much furor in our society today than the issue of judging. If you want to get someone mad at you real quick, just say that you think they are wrong about something they’ve said or done, or about an opinion or belief they have.
When you do that, you instantly become accused of being judgmental and intolerant.
Steve Martin said, "Never judge a man unless you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Then you’ll be a mile away and you have his shoes."
Dare to share your opinion about saying, and you’re faced with, "Who are you to judge? Remember, Jesus said, "Don’t judge lest you be judged." And they’re right - Jesus did say that. But they’re also wrong in the insinuation that Jesus was condemning the entire concept of judging.
So today we’re going to look at these words of Jesus, along with what else he said when he spoke them, so we can get an idea of what Jesus was really talking about here.
Our passage is Matthew 7:1-5. I invite you to read along with me in your Bibles. If you don’t have a Bible or weren’t able to bring yours, you can use the Bibles in the seats in front of you. And this passage is found on page 685 of those Bibles.
"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.
What is Jesus addressing, especially in verse 1? Is he saying that we should never judge?
No. He’s addressing the haughty and hypocritical attitude of those who think they’ve got it all together spiritually and who look down on others.
Again, as we read through the Sermon on the Mount, we find that one of the keystones is Jesus’ distaste for hypocrisy.
He rips the religious leaders of his time for saying one thing and doing another, and for displaying their religion for the sake of applause.
He’s not saying, "don’t judge at all." He’s saying, be careful when you judge."
So in trying to sort out what judging is all about and how to avoid looking like the hypocrites Jesus is discussing, I want us to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly about judging.
But before we do that, let’s pray.
The Good: Knowing the facts about judging.
People are real fond of quoting verse 1 -
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged."
And if that verse meant what most people think it means, ripped from its context like it is, then they would have a point.
But as I mentioned a bit ago, this verse doesn’t stand alone. And it’s not everything there is to consider about judging people.
So let’s look at some facts about judging in the hopes that we can answer those who accuse us of judging unjustly, and also to help us avoid the attitude Jesus is condemning in this passage.
Some facts about judging: First...
1. Not all judging is bad.
This flies in the face of everything our society is trying to tell us about judging. But this is so important to grasp and understand. And to help us do that, I want to direct your attention to the words of Jesus in John 7:24 -
"Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."
Here Jesus says something that on the surface seems like a contradiction to our passage in Matthew. But is it, really? Nope. In our passage in Matthew, Jesus is addressing the underlying attitude of hypocrisy and a critical spirit. In John, Jesus is discussing the shallowness of people’s judging, based on faulty data.
The Bible tells us all over the place that we are to people of good judgment, based on the principles of Scripture, not the principles of society. I’ll be discussing this a bit later.