Patrick Mitchell • 04.23.23
How much judging have you already done today? It’s not a religious problem or a Christian problem; it’s a human problem. We do it so often that we’ve become desensitized to it. We watch divisiveness grow because we let our judgments of an outside characteristic dictate our assumptions of the inside characteristics. Jesus goes to the issue of the heart as it relates to judgment.
Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
What is the first thing you think of when it comes to Jesus & judging? Divine judgment. Romans 14:10 “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” This is a reality for everybody.
Our human judging doesn’t go this far. We tend to be a bit analytical and wildly subjective to our moods, experiences, and environments. We dismiss, demonize, categorize, distance, and marginalize people.
Matthew 7:2 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus says that the judgment will come back to us. Luke 6:36-37 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” What kind of standard would you want God to judge you against? Do you use that standard towards others? If we have the desire to reflect God’s heart to the world, we approach every person with the same grace we have been given.
Matthew 7: 3-5 “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.”
This is the pot calling the kettle black. This is those living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Jesus reveals the parameters of righteous judging while also rebuking the posture of self-righteousness.
Who Christians Judge: Jesus uses the word “brother” repeatedly. This is your fellow believer. Christians judging is limited to judging Christians. People and souls outside of the church are off-limits. There are examples of this in the New Testament: Paul and the Church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13. “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” The church is looked on with skepticism and suspicion. When we relate to non-Christians as judgmental, vindictive, and pushy, we lose the ear of those who desperately need to hear the gospel.
How Christians Judge: You would have to be extremely close to someone to get a speck out of their eye. That’s an up close and personal situation. There has to be a trusting relationship already established. This means that judging from a distance is off-limits, including a digital distance. There has never been a successful splinter removal from a Tweet or an Instagram comment. What does the watching world think when they see Christians tearing people apart online with digital courage that we would never have face-to-face? It takes a lot more effort to get to know someone and understand their story. It’s hard to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
When Christians Judge: Matthew 7:5 “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Put down the magnifying glass and pick up a mirror. Just as judgment is a human problem so is hypocrisy. To shut down self-righteousness, we have to open up self-awareness. Be open to accountability regularly. Judge your own judgments. What is the source? Is it helpful? Is it self-serving? Is it driven by insecurity, shame, fear, or jealousy?
The goal of judging is restoration, not condemnation or demonization. Galatians 6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”