Summary: This sermon looks at someone who is a criticizer, a person with a judgmental attitude and a critical spirit.
Two taxidermists stopped before a window where an owl was on display. Immediately they criticized the way the owl was mounted. They noted that the eyes were not natural, nor the wings proportionate to its head, and its feathers were not neatly arranged, and its feet needed improvement. When they had finished their criticisms, the owl turned its head and winked at them.
Someone once said that the art of being wise is knowing what to overlook, and that fits our teaching; that judgment and criticism says a lot more about who we are than it does about those who we are judging or criticizing.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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? 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? 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.” (Matthew 7:1-5 NKJV)
Just for a kick, let’s look at the Message’s paraphrase version.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matthew 7:1-5 MSG)
Before we get overly critical of others for their critical attitude, we must understand that criticizing and judging others is a sin that we all struggle with.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best-known movie role is “The Terminator.” He plays a machine from the future that is sent back to the past, first to kill, and then later to protect an important personage in humanity’s struggle against the machines of the future.
In our passage Jesus is talking about another type of terminator that we’ll call, “The Criticizer.” The Criticizer is deadly and causes great harm, not only to the individuals they judge and criticize, but to the church, which is a representative of Jesus here on earth.
Jesus is dealing with the judgmental attitude and critical spirit that exist within the church that He’s the head of. So serious is criticism and judgmentalism within the church that Jesus pulls no punches; that they will be judged in the same way they judge others.
These criticizers are self-righteous, spiritual blind, self-deceived, and lack Christ-like love. As such they are hypocrites and abuse the gospel of grace they say they proclaim.
It might be advantageous; therefore, for us to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying as Jesus speaks to “The Criticizer.”
There is a fine line, however, in this whole judging thing, because Jesus never says that we’re not going to judge. In Matthew gospel Jesus talks about how we can rightly judge someone who is false by the way they live their life.
“You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16 NKJV)
In John’s gospel Jesus said that we are to judge righteously.
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul tells us that in matters pertaining to the church we are to judge, because we’re going to be expected to judge the angels.
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NKJV)
The type of judgment Jesus is speaking about in our passage, however, is condemning, censorious, and faultfinding. It is a criticism of others with no comparable self-criticism or self-correction of our own shortcoming, faults, and sins.
Why are we so judgmental and critical?
• First it helps boost our own crumbling self-image. When we point out someone else’s faults, we seem to be a little better in our own eyes. The Bible says that we better be careful lest we go on an ego trip, because pride always comes before a fall.
• Next we enjoy criticism because of our own sinful nature that takes pleasure in hearing and sharing other people’s shortcomings, which is why gossip is so popular.