Summary: This is part of the Sermon on the Mount series dealing with what Jesus said about not judging.
Sermon on the Mount
“The Case of Judging”
While waiting for a plane a woman entered a gift shop to buy herself a magazine. While she was there she also bought a package of cookies. She then sat down to wait for her plane.
A gentleman came and sat one seat away. He soon opened a package of cookies that was in the seat between them and took out one and began to eat it.
Shocked that this stranger would do such a thing she immediately reached over and took one and ate it. Not saying anything the man then took another cookie and ate it. This prompted the woman to do so as well.
This scenario continued to play itself out until there was only one cookie left. The man then picked up the cookie and broke it in two, giving her half. He then stood up and walked away.
By now the woman was completely beside herself, but before she could do anything they announced that boarding would begin. After boarding she was still upset until she reached in her purse and found a package of cookies.
With this in mind let’s look at tonight’s passage.
Read Matthew 7:1-5
When Jesus said, “Judge not,” it’s important to understand what He meant.
This is not a prohibition against all judging, nor is it against rightfully discerning between right and wrong or making critical assessment.
Instead it’s a prohibition against being God’s censors. A censor was a magistrate who had the job of supervising the morals of the community. In that position they were to find other people’s faults and be harsh in their criticism of them. If someone fell short of their expectations then they would be censored or condemned.
Today we’d call these people faultfinders. These are people who always seek out other people’s faults becoming both negative and destructive in their critique. These are people who always put the worst twist on every situation.
This type of person reminds me of a minor league baseball coach who became so enraged with his center fielder’s play that he benched him. After ridiculing his play the coach took his position.
The first ball that was hit towards him was a grounder that took a bad hop and hit him in the mouth and he began to bleed. Then next ball was a high fly that he lost in the sun and hit him on the forehead. The third ball that came his direction was a hard line drive that he missed of the end of his glove and hit him in the eye.
Angrily he threw down his glove and ran back to the dug out. He grabbed the center fielder and said, “You idiot! You’ve got center field so messed up that even I can’t do a thing with it.”
A censorious person is someone who claims both the competence and authority to sit in judgment. When we do this we cast ourselves as lord and masters and those we’re judging as our servants.
The Apostle Paul saw this danger and effectively deals with it.
“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 NKJV)
Paul makes it clear that God is the Lord, our Master and Judge, and it’s before Him that we must stand. In fact being a servant of God, Paul didn’t even want to judge himself, because he knew that it was the Lord who would bring to light hidden things.
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NKJV)
We must be careful then not to judge someone else, because we do not know what goes on inside them, nor to we know what they have been through, or for that matter, what they’re going through.
The following poem illustrates this.
Pray don’t find fault with the man who limps or stumbles along the road,
Unless you have worn the shoes he wears or struggled beneath his load.
There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt, though hidden away from view,
Or the burden he bears, placed on your back might cause you to stumble too.
Don’t sneer at the man who’s down today unless you have felt the blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame that only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows that were his if dealt to you,
In the selfsame way, at the selfsame time, might cause you to stagger too.
Don’t be too harsh with the man who sins or pelt him with word or stone,