Judging others is wrong I am told. I hear this and I think perhaps I cannot decide what a person has just done is wrong. This passage doesn’t mean I if I see a bad behavior or hear an unkind word or witness a crime, I can’t think it wrong. What I cannot do is make a decision about that person’s value, define them, label them, or decide their eternal condition based on something I see or hear about them. People can change and will if they meet Jesus. And for those who have met Jesus, we are works in progress. Just because I did or said something stupid this morning doesn’t mean I am always or will always be stupid.
Primarily Jesus is addressing the tendency to elevate myself by judging others. ‘I must be a better or more valuable person because I don’t do that.’ In this case the plank is pride. Often judging others is an expression of pride where I compare my strengths to another’s weakness. My efforts are not to be emphasized on correcting others or comparing my strengths to their weaknesses. My efforts are to be concentrated on allowing God to transform me and others. This transformation occurs by focusing on him, by striving to remove barriers that prevent him from working through me. If I am concentrating on my relationship with him, I don’t have time to point out the weaknesses of others; I am too busy confessing and exposing my own weaknesses.
The Second Aspect of Judging Others
There is a second aspect of judging others where I essentially say, ‘well that’s just how you are.’ This is not what God wants me to be about. He wants me to have a vision for people that will allow them to become the people he intends. Judging others or categorizing them creates barriers to his plan and discourages those he wants to make into better people.
My mother who was an electrical engineer said I was bad at math, that I had no aptitude for it. She still believes this. Now I was bad at math because I was lazy with it and didn’t care much for it. She never said that if I would work at it, I could be better. If I were to argue this difference with her, she would say ‘see I was right.’ She judged me as being bad a math.
Religious people are often the worst for judging others as Jesus directed this message at them. Everyone must realize Romans 3:23 ‘ for all have sinned,’ and thus there is only one Judge and one Hope.
The world is not divided into black and white. All are black with sin. Jesus is the only one who is white and without sin. The only difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is one is forgiven and the other continues to hold onto their sins thinking they can fix their condition themselves with their own efforts. Both are sinners. One has a hope. The other has a hope available, but refuses it and is deluded in thinking there is a self directed alternative.
Who are the dogs? The swine? In context, this probably refers to me if I persist in judging others or continue to believe I am superior. If I think like this I am truly unteachable like the Pharisees throughout the gospels. This passage might also refer to the fool referred to in Psalm 14:1, ‘ The fool says in his heart, “ there is no God.’’
When I catch myself in a mode of judging others, Oswald Chambers gives me a useful tool in the March 26 writing of My Utmost for His Highest. “ Say to yourself. ‘ That woman or that man is perfect in Christ Jesus! That friend or that relative is perfect in Christ Jesus!”
Read Matthew 7:1-6
- Where and when am I most likely to be in a mode of judging others? While driving? At work? In my home? At church?
- When I catch myself judging others, what am I thinking about myself?
- Are these thoughts about myself who I am in Christ?
- How does God show me that he isn’t finished with my life yet, that he still has work to do in me?
- Have I had thoughts that I am a pretty good person, that I’m not so bad, that I’m better than most people? How do these thoughts effect the work of God in my life?
- Where does my goodness come from?
- What makes me good?
- Can I do most things right, look good on the outside, and still be far away from God? How?
- What is the plank that needs removing from my eye?
Passage for Meditation
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2
Father, too frequently I quickly enter a mode of judging others and am slow to understand and love. Help me to realize that without you my condition is completely hopeless and I am not qualified to approach you without Jesus. Who am I to compare what is easy for me to what is difficult for another? Forgive me for judging others. Help me to confess my sins and allow you to transform me. Motivate me to share your solution with others who struggle. Help me to point to you as the solution and not to list of rules or a particular church or a particular teacher. Forgive me for my pride and help me see it and help me remove it. Help me to stop pretending to have all the answers and turn to you the one who does.