Did you understand what you read?
- Why should we not judge another person?
- Does this mean we cannot correct a person who is sinning? Why or Why not?
- What do the speck (mote) and the plank (log) represent in Jesus' illustration?
- What are the pearls we should not cast before swine?
Matthew 7:1 is often quoted by people accused of doing wrong. They believe that no one has the right to point out the sin in their life. Only God can tell them how to live. If this is true, then why did Paul instruct the Corinthians to judge disputes between brethren in I Corinthians 6:1-5? Obviously, there are some judgments that are wrong and some that are right. This lesson will attempt to explain which is which.
Some people will twist law to suit their own purposes. In Chicago, there was a law against operating a business in your home. The intent of the law was to prevent the proliferation of sweatshops. One man who was angry with his neighbor used it to get his neighbors evicted from their apartment. His neighbor wrote books during the evening. We can twist God's law when we falsely accuse a brother of wrongdoing (James 4:11-12). Assume that brother Bob is living righteously before God. Along comes brother Sam, falsely claiming that Bob has sinned - not because he violated some command of God, but because Sam didn't like the way Bob did something. "I can't quote you book, chapter, and verse. But I know sin when I see it." We now have a conflict. Sam claims Bob is in the wrong, but the scriptures show that he is living righteously. In an indirect way, Sam is claiming that the Bible is incomplete. It left out the sin that Bob supposedly had committed. As a result, Sam is standing in judgment of the law. This is the wrong kind of judging that Job's friends made. They assumed that Job sinned because of the evil things that had befallen him. The Jews of Jesus' time also did this in Matthew 15:1-9. By putting their traditions on an equal footing with God's law, they nullified the law.
Another way we ought not to judge is when we don't have all the facts. Too often a brother is accused of having a "bad attitude" when he refuses to go along the actions of others. How can we possibly know that a person's attitude is bad? Can we peer into his mind or see into his heart? I Corinthians 4:1-7 tells us that we live our lives for God - not for other men and not for ourselves. Only God can determine the motives of a person's actions. Until God reveals his decision at judgment day, we have no right to prejudge a brother's motives. Right or wrong should only be determined on the evidence of what a person did and not the supposition of why that person did it. Read Romans 14:1-23.
Too many people determine the spiritual condition of people they meet by incidental things. Do we decide that a person is not spiritually minded by the way they dress when they come to services? Read James 2:1-13. Consider the false conclusions that the Pharisees leaped to when they saw Jesus associating with sinners in Matthew 9:10-13. Giving preferential treatment for our friends is another way we can show biased judgment. Paul warned Timothy not to show any partiality in I Timothy 5:21.
Sometimes we act as if there are two standards; one standard for us and another for everyone else. The Jews had this problem. Paul warns in Romans 2:1 that the Jews and the Gentiles will one day face the same judge. The Jews will receive the same sentence as the Gentiles. Neither the Jews nor the Gentiles lived in accordance with God's expectations. A person cannot judge fairly when they are blinded by sin as pointed out in Matthew 7:1-5.
Jesus is not forbidding all judgments. He is warning us to be careful to judge fairly. Judge another person's actions or statements in the context of the situation. Base your judgment purely on what the Bible says is right or wrong. I Corinthians 5 is a good example of fair and accurate judgment. Care must be taken at all times because we can be lead astray ourselves (Galatians 6:1-10). When the Bereans faced a new teaching by Paul, they determine the correctness of what he said by the scriptures (Acts 17:11). We must not allow ourselves to create another false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). Finally, remember mercy. God has promised to treat us as we have treated others.
- Is it wrong to judge a person?
- Can you think of a time when Jesus' statement in Matthew 7:6 came true? Has it happened more than once?
- Lucy believes that putting up a Christmas tree is wrong because of the false belief many people in the world associate with it. Sally doesn't see anything wrong with having some decorations in the house during a holiday. Who is right?