Judge Not, But Use Judgment
April 18, 2021 | Jeff Crotts
Passage: Matthew 7:1-6
Spring is here and so I was reminded of the humor section in the A.D.N. quoting tourists:
- A tourist standing on the dock with a fisherman.
- Tourist says, “We’re so far north, how far above sea level are we?”
- Fisherman replied, looking down at the water, “Oh about 10 feet.”
Sometimes it is hard not to be a little critical.
A young man grew up under a critical mother who unmercifully criticized every girlfriend.
- The young man at wits end wanted to bring home a girlfriend to be a prospective wife.
- His best friend counseled: “Find someone who is just like your mother, then she will have to approve.”
- The young man did just that finding her clone.
- Looked like his mother, same gait, talked like her, and she even thought like his mother. It was amazing!
- So, he took her by the home and then the next time he saw his friend, he asked “How his mother liked the girl?”
- The young man replied, “It went great with Mom, but my Father couldn’t stand her!”
Joking aside, being judgmental is a very serious sin.
When I attended seminary, I had a class called, Discipleship Lab.
- Most students were American, but some were international students, one of whom was Yerigan.
- Yerigan, from Germany was a very good student but without a full mastery of the English language, especially nuance and colloquialisms.
- Our professor went around our table of 10, asking us to use “one word” to describe ourselves.
- One young man said, passionate.
- Another said, relational.
- Others gave standard answers but when it came to Yerigan, he said with a heavy German accent, “I am critical.”
We all stared, wondering what we just heard.
- Usually, critical means judgmental; weighing everything people are doing.
- Our professor, wisely assessed what Yerigan truly meant.
- This was not a confession but an affirmation of a gift.
- Our professor counseled Yerigan to clarify that what he meant to say was, “I am a critical thinker” or “precise.”
Illustrates the difference between being critical verses discerning.
- Being critical is dangerously divisive to community.
- Being discerning is vital for unifying a community.
- Critical people exploit weaknesses tearing people down.
- Discerning people build others up and tie people together.
- Critical people are negative, while discerning people brim with optimism.
Do not misunderstand me to say that a discerning person is optimistic over sin.
- Discernment recognizes and deals with sin through confrontation.
- Seeing solutions based in the work of Christ.
- Optimism, unifies contra to ignoring sin.
- Critical people likewise recognize sin within a Christian community.
- Instead of moving toward a grace-filled solution.
- Critical people focus on what it is going wrong as an end unto itself.
- Critical people enjoy this kind of dead-end street. Staying in a tailspin.
Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount is rounding the homestretch as he moves into Matthew 7:1.
- This final chapter in his sermon strikes a serious chord.
ESV Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.
- The word “judge” [krino] can be applied in a bad way or good way depending on the context of it is being used.
- Here it is applied in a bad way.
- Jesus is giving the warning of warnings.
- The command, “Judge not” simply means never take the position of Lord (as if you could) condemning someone.
- Seeing sins but avoiding ascending the pedestal of self-righteous.
- Jesus’ reason to avoid this at all costs is “…that you be not judged.”
- Jesus’ warning means that giving over to being critical places your heart in danger of God’s judgment!
- Not merely temporal or moral.
- Not merely bad outcomes or bad days because you are living a negative life.
- This statement tests your heart condition and its spiritual trajectory.
- Christians are caught up short in your heart when judgmental.
- You might fall short but come to repent of it.
Over the years, Judy has cast our home as a place of reconciliation. Never perfect, but a place where we make things right. Committed to this, always!
If anyone falls into a spat, there will be intervention.
“I am not just speaking of the kids!”
- Someone whispers something mean to another, exploiting weakness as only a family member can do, isolating the other, tucked away hurting in the corner.
- Regularly, Judy is the one who will wisely step in and confront whoever is being critical, successfully bringing about repentance.
- But at this point the process is not over.
- She will then turn to the other, appealing to the one who was hurt to forgive the other.
- The attention now has moved from the first, who had done damage to the second who had been damaged.
- The first, having softened and now to the second still needing to soften.
- The first, now owning their sin, seeking forgiveness, while the second, still feeling hurt, still hardening the heart, and now needing to likewise soften.
- Judy appeals to the second, saying true Christians forgive others based on the fact that they have been forgiven of so much by the Lord Jesus.
A true Christian will not stay critical, and hardened against someone who has sinned against them.
- Why? Simply because a true Christian will over and over again, come to see the reality of grace.
- Jesus’ grace has showered over all our sins!
- Especially, the sin of being critical.
- At this, the second invariably melts and forgives the first.
- Now the process is complete.
- Remembering Jesus.
True Christians know they will not ultimately be judged (cf. Rom. 8:1 “no condemnation”) being reassured by this very (over the over again) process.
- False Christians, sadly stay hardened, denying to themselves this process and thereby denying grace.
- What should be at work their hearts toward others.
The warnings Jesus gave in Matthew 7:1 should not be understated.
This section builds on the theme of practicing the Law of God.
- The Law was never based in rule-keeping for self-righteousness but God’s means to reach the heart.
- The opposite of the Prodigal’s brother hardened heart who rebuffed grace.
- This is the same rebuke to the Pharisees (cf. Luke 15:11-32).
- Jesus’ model prayer from Matthew 6:12 serves to bookend this truth.
ESV Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
- Along with, Matthew 7:12, The Golden Rule, capturing this same truth.
ESV Matthew 7:12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Introduction complete: My goal is to differentiate between Judging and Using Judgment - Taking inventory on your spiritual trajectory.
Prop: Judging verses Judgment
1. Judging (vv. 1-5)
Judgmental people thrive on being critical, what Jesus condemns.
- Jesus is addressing a mixed crowd, of believers and Pharisees.
- Offering Truth while conducting a showdown.
- The warning of “being judged” is applicable to both believers and non-believers.
- Bible describes future judgement for both.
- Two judgment scenes, the Bema seat, and the Great White throne.
The Bema seat judgement for believers, described in 1 Corinthians 3. Judgment that is terrifying but survivable.
ESV 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
ESV 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
ESV Romans 14:12-13 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
ESV James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
“How does this work, since Christians are under ‘no condemnation’ status?”
ESV Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Let me clarify, by comparing A Court of Grace with A Court of Consequence?
God’s Court of Grace could be compared to an experience I had when I just turned 16.
- When I was 16 years old, I found myself standing before a judge.
- It was my first 90 days of getting my driver’s license.
- My parents allowed me to drive our family’s brand-new Ford Mustang to High School.
- I was parked in a neighborhood and jammed in three teenaged friends to give rides home.
- One offered, “So, what can this thing do?”
- I started the car, floored it, and was immediately pulled over by a police officer.
- Cited for reckless driving!
- My Dad escorted me to my court appearance.
- Other kids were there from my school, equally busted.
- We all had been busted the same day and there was no joking around.
- Suddenly, it was my turn, and I was standing before the bench and the judge.
- My throat was dry, and the long dark robed man appeared ten feet high.
- I felt myself begin to shrink.
- I was guilty and my father explained that I had already been placed on restriction.
- After asking me a few indicting questions and understanding that I had not gotten away with this at home.
- The judge lessoned the violation and fee.
- In other words, I was extended grace.
Certainly, Heaven’s Court of Grace, will be this bad and worse, terrifying but survivable.
- In Heaven, believers will all stand before God as Judge.
- Will face sins, feel the weight of our sins, feel loss.
- But not bear the penalty of our sins.
- Instead, our sins will be met with grace.
Unbelievers on the day of judgment attend a very different court appearance.
- What I am calling God’s Court of Consequence.
- Unbelievers will not experience the same treatment.
- They who come under the resurrection of death.
ESV John 5:29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
- When unbelievers die, like believers, they likewise experience a resurrection.
- Fit with a physical body not for eternal life but eternal judgment.
- The first resurrection to life, over against the second resurrection to death.
- This scene comes after the 1,000 year reign of Christ.
ESV Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
In Matthew 7:21-23, we see the verbal exchange between unbelievers and the Lord.
- What this Court sounds like.
“Which judgment will you fall under?”
- “Which court scenario will be yours?”
- Scripture commits that you will be in court.
- In verse 2, Jesus answers this question for you.
ESV Matthew 7:2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
The principle of “measures” for “measures” is throughout Scripture.
- Again, Lex Talionis, “An eye for an eye”
- Offering damning judgments means you should expect to be judged accordingly.
- Being caught up short, by the Holy Spirit by grace means you should expect grace accordingly.
- Measures of heaven act as down payments for heaven future.
The principle is that simple but begs, “How do I diagnose where I truly am?”
Verses 3-5 create a diagnostic for your heart.
- People have made verses 3-5 into a procedure rather than a test.
- Missing Jesus’ point.
- Why verses 3 and 4 begin with rhetorical questions.
- “Why do you see the speck…?”
- “Or how can you say to your brother…”
- Both questions, asking you to ask yourself, “Am I being judgmental?”
The first question, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (v. 3).
- The big concept is diagnosing your own spiritual blindness.
- If you have ever had a bug fly in your eye, you know something very small still renders you blind.
- “Speck” a good term could be “straw” or a “chip.”
- Until flushed out, your vision is off.
The scenario is someone reaching out to a “brother.”
- Working “brother to brother” in the context of a relationship.
- You “see the speck” with “good intentions” want to remove it.
- You want to help a “brother” out!
- But there is serious comedy here because “you do not see the log that is in your own eye” (v. 3).
- “Log” [dokas] is a “beam of timber.”
- Like the support beams of our gymnasium
- This comparison between the two is meant to be shocking.
- A beam in your eye means you have something the size of a Mac Truck impeding your judgment.
- You believe you are helpful, but you are not.
- You have not first dealt with a gigantically larger sin.
- Larger than whatever you are trying to point out.
- A beam in your eye means you have something the size of a Mac Truck impeding your judgment.
An unaddressed “beam” reminds me of the scene from the three stooges where Curly has the ladder over his head, to trying to get to his project, and while spinning into position, knocks over paint cans, scaffolding, Moe, and Larry, and everything else around him. A disaster!
Verse 4 digs Jesus’ point in deeper with a follow-on question, “Or how can you say…” (v. 4).
- Jesus’ tone must be incredulous.
- It is impossible to say, “to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your eye?”
- Realize, when a “beam of timber” impedes your ability to see, you are rendered incapable of seeing what could possibly be impeding someone else vision.
- You cannot see around your own issues!
“What is this ‘beam of timber’ sin?”
Verse 5 names it. “You hypocrite.”
- A hypocrite is someone blinded by self-righteousness.
- In a word, the sin is pride.
- Think of the comparison between Satan and God.
- Satan lifted himself up believing himself to be better than God.
- “I will ascend, I will, I will” which is blindness beyond blindness
(cf. Isaiah 14:12-17 – five “I wills”).
- This was the Pharisees blindness against the tax-gatherer.
ESV Luke 18:11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
People cloak judgmentalism in vain Christianized terms. Holier than thou attitude.
- Rants about the latest heresies while possibly, not actually being saved.
- Being divisive is dangerous calling for swift decisive action.
ESV Titus 3:10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him
“If this is you…?”
- If a hypocrite, own it, and repent.
- It looks like verse 5.
- “…first take the log out of your own eye” (v. 5).
Remember, how you respond is the dividing line between how you will be judged.
- Believers, own hypocrisy, act, and avoid damning judgement.
- Unbelievers are blind and stay blind, condemn themselves.
The “log” is “hypocrisy” making repentance: “turning on yourself” before anything else.
- Look in the mirror and admit, “I am full of myself” and I need God.
- Self-awareness not only puts you right.
- It puts you in the place to help someone else.
- The opposite of being critical.
The only righteous reason to focus on someone else’s sin, is to help them out of it.
- To “…take the speck out” (v. 5). This is the second step.
ESV Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
- Someone’s foot is caught in a trap and they will stay stuck until someone helps pry it
- People need people who will first deal with their pride!
- Coming in a spirit of restoration.
Verse 6 moves from judging to judgment.
2. Judgment (v. 6)
I am using the term “judgment” as a synonym for discernment.
Verse 6 is Jesus taking a sharp turn in his train of thought.
- This command is to discern, not whether someone is in sin, nor whether you need to first deal with you sin before addressing it.
- This is whether it is wise to address someone’s sin or to just leave it alone.
- We do not always know what to do when someone needs help.
- The issue could be one of timing.
Verse 6 assumes the “log” has been addressed.
- Someone sees with clarity someone else’s sin but must NOW discern whether it wise to address it.
- Using Judgment with Truth.
There are New Testament examples where believers are called to us judgement.
- Especially within the church.
- 1 Corinthians 5, 6, 10, and 11 call for Christians to use “judgment.”
ESV 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?13 God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."
ESV 1 Corinthians 6:1-6 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
ESV 1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.
ESV 1 Corinthians 11:13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?
A few verses later in Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says we will know people by their fruits.
- Discernment is real and necessary but must still be used with caution.
- We admonish but not without discernment.
- Are they receptive?
- A believer?
- In a dangerously hardened state.
Jesus issues a final caution in this section, when dealing with people’s sin.
- Something may backfire on you when not careful.
Jesus uses “dogs” to make the point that moving towards sin may create an unpredictable situation.
- Desperate people are often dangerous; having nothing to lose.
- “Dogs” are not household, domesticated, and tame and predictable when handled.
- Jesus meant wild dogs or pack animals.
- Ungroomed, hungry, desperate animals akin to wolves or hyenas.
- This is like dealing with a Moose in the yard.
How do you know someone is domesticated “in the church family?”
Or the opposite?
- Implied is the difference between being blind with pride verses having eyes of discernment.
- Spiritual judgment, knowing when to move toward someone.
- Or, when to stay away.
Jewish law summoned families to bring an animal for sins.
- Some meat would remain on the altar while leftover meat might be eaten by the priest or family.
- The portion considered “holy” was set-apart to God.
- You would not take God’s portion and chuck to the dogs.
- Abhorrent to the Jews.
- The dogs were the scavenging Ravens of that culture and day.
- Compared to going over to the offering box and grabbing bills offered, crumpling them up and throwing them away in the dumpster.
- Or using offering money to paper your dog pen.
Jesus makes the same point with perhaps the most detestable animal according to Old Testament law.
- A pig was unclean to eat and touch.
- Ancient history records Greek rulers who demoralized the Jews by committing what was called the abomination desolation.
In 168 BC, the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem and captured the city. He marched into the Jewish temple, erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus, and sacrificed a pig on the altar of incense. This provoked a revolt in Judea as the Jews fought to remove Antiochus’ sacrilege from the temple. Under the leadership of the Maccabees, the Jews drove Antiochus and his army out, and the Jews gained control of their land for about one hundred years until Pompey, an acclaimed Roman general, captured the Holy Land and brought it under Roman rule.
Still, in Jesus’ context, pigs were not for ceremonial use nor a food source (farm animals) but instead as a pack of wild boar.
- This is the scenario of being ambushed.
You are walking along and find yourself in a life-threatening situation where you believe to survive the threat your only recourse is to reach in your pocket and throw a sack full of pearls in front of the pigs, as if they will recognize these precious jewels and leave you for them!
- Ludicrous right?
- No more ludicrous than reasoning with someone with your Bible who is contemptuous angry and out to get you and what you believe.
- Throwing pearls at a mad pack of wild pigs means they will “trample them underfoot and turn and attack you” (v. 6).
- You lose everything. Personal wealth and maybe your life.
Often the most discerning thing you can do is to say nothing at all!
- You know the truth.
- See what is wrong and instead of trying to pry them open with God’s Word, you say nothing.
- Jesus, when reviled against, did not answer them.
ESV 1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
This final warning ties back to Jesus’ initial warning about the heart.
- Both warnings are meant to protect your heart from hardening.
- Being judged as a believer or unbeliever.
- Neither fall into judgmentalism, tearing people apart while playing the hypocrite!
- Nor, lacking judgement, wielding the Word of God like a child with a toy.
- Dangerously hardening others, while hardening yourself.
“What will it take to remove this beam lodged inside my own eye?”
- One beam will be defeated by Two beams that created the Cross!
- Turning to these Two beams dismantles your One beam called PRIDE.
- See, the Two-beamed solution.
- Christ dealt the blow against pride.
- It brings our personal judgments under God’s care, while there is still time for you on earth.
If you are in Christ, though your day in court will still come.
You will stand before a Judge, but not without a sure Defense and Advocate named Jesus Christ.