Mayor Gerardo Balmori
The Salvation Army
As Jesus looked at the religious situation of his day, he saw that judging others had become a
great religious problem. The Pharisees and scribes sat
in the place of the critic. They were quick to pass judgment on those who didn’t live up to their
I. Don’t Judge (Matthew 7:1-2)
When Jesus was in the house of Simon the Pharisee and the sinful woman anointed his feet,
Simon said, "This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is
who is touching him, for she is a sinner." (Luke 7:39). The Pharisees, in their self-righteous
arrogance, had created a special class of people called "sinners," as if they themselves were not
Whenever we make a judgment, we do so based on what we have seen and sometimes that’s not
enough to provide the whole picture. Human judgment is limited to the information which we
put into it and sometimes that isn’t enough to make an accurate judgment.
The Indians had their way of saying this: "Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his
But that goes to show the limits of what we sometimes see in other people. God once made the
point that "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel
16:7). That’s why I don’t have the right to sit in judgment on someone else’s motives, because I
don’t know what they are. Only the Lord knows all.
II. Searching for Specks (Matthew 7:3-5)
There’s another problem with “Pharisee righteousness”. Not only was it overly critical, but it was
also hypocritical. It was two-faced. We like to look at people with bifocals. We use the bottom
part to see ourselves, and it has kind of a rosy tint to it. We tend to look past any shortcomings.
But the top part we use to look at others. And that’s the hypocrisy Jesus was denouncing.
It’s like the parable in Luke 18 where a goes to the temple to pray. The Pharisee looks through
the top part of his bifocals and says, "Oh my! I’m glad I’m not like that scumbag out there." And
then he looks through the bottom part and says to God, "You are just so blessed to have me on
your side." That’s the kind of judging Jesus condemned.
We’re not qualified to sit in judgment on others because it’s impossible to
be impartial -- we’re influenced by our own imperfections. Jesus here uses the graphic example
of a plank of wood and a speck of dust.
Even though we are unqualified, we still judge. And we often do so for selfish reasons; it makes
us feel better. If we have a problem with sin in our own lives, it takes a little pressure off to point
the finger at others for a while. It makes our sin seem not so bad after all. But, Jesus warns us
that we’ve got to clean up our own act before we tamper with the lives of others.
When I spend my time pointing my finger at your sin, my attention is distracted from my own
sins, and that’s the real danger of judging. We’re all sinners, and we’re to work together as a
family to overcome our sins. But ultimately, the only sins over which I have control are my own,
and those are the ones that should command my greatest attention.
But it’s important for us to notice that he didn’t stop there. He didn’t instruct us to stay out of
other people’s business. Rather, he gave us the responsibility of helping our brother: "First
remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of
your brother’s eye." (7:5).
What’s the loving, Christian thing to do when someone comes to you and he’s got a speck in his
eye? Turn and walk away? No! Do you say, "Oh, no. I could never take that speck out of your eye.
I’ve had specks in my eye before"? Of course not! He’s got something in his eye and he needs it
Or suppose a child comes to you with a splinter in his finger. He’s crying, "Please take this
splinter out!" What’s the Christian thing to do? Leave the splinter there? No! You take the
splinter out. So Jesus was saying there is a place for some discernment in people’s lives. If you
see brothers or sisters who have specks in their eyes, you need to help them take it out!
But first you take out the two-by-four of self-righteousness out of your own eye. Paul put it this
way, ""Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in
a spirit of gentleness." (Galatians 6:1).
You who are spiritual -- not self-righteous, but spiritual -- those of you who have the evidence of
the fruit of the Spirit in your life, you go restore him. Matthew 7 shouldn’t interfere with the
responsibility we have to go to somebody in loving confrontation.
So what is the message of Matthew 7:1-6? I think it’s a warning for us to avoid the extremes of
judgment. We need to be careful not to become harshly judgmental, looking for faults, taking the
opportunity to look down on others from our position of self-righteousness.
But neither are we to overlook sin. We need to be able to recognize sin for what it is. Any attempt
to overlook or justify sin on any grounds is itself sinful.
We’ve seen the teachings of Jesus; let’s notice his example. In John 8, Jesus is confronted by a
mob pushing before it a woman that was caught in the act of adultery. The mob tried to use her,
as if she were a thing, in order to trap Jesus. The Jewish law said she must die. Roman law said
that she couldn’t be killed without their permission. There was never any doubt about her guilt,
nor was there any doubt as to the seriousness of her action.
So what did Jesus do when confronted by this sinner? First, he refused to look down on her. He
wouldn’t allow the mob to treat her as a thing. Rather he forced the mob to consider their own
sin. But, second, he didn’t justify her behavior. He wouldn’t refer to her action as anything other
than sin. He forgave her and challenged her to stop sinning. That’s what we need to do.