“Be Extra Careful How You Judge” (Pt. 2)
The majority of us would not like to be judged by the same standards by which we judge other people. The Apostle Paul called for extreme caution when he wrote to the Romans in 2:1 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” It is very hard to avoid a double standard; however, simply realizing tendencies to which we are prone allows us to guard our thoughts and actions in judgment.
We all want other people, and especially God, to judge us with mercy and compassion. All too often we do not exercise the same mercy and compassion in our judgments of others. Commentator Daniel Doriani writes “Since we all violate the standards that we use to measure others, we are all liable to God’s judgment. But if we hope to receive mercy from God, we ought to show mercy.” (Daniel M. Doriani; The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of the Kingdom; 189) The simple question for all to answer is “How do I really see others?” Do I see people as hurting individuals in need of God? Do I see them as lost souls in need of forgiveness and salvation? Or, do I see them like the Pharisees, and other religious leaders, saw them in their day. We have a very insightful occurrence in the Gospels when a Pharisee and tax collector were both at the temple to pray. The tax collector beat on his breasts and cried out “Lord have mercy on me a sinner!” while the Pharisee piously thanked the Lord that he was so much better than the lowly tax collector and went on to list all the “self-righteous” things that he had done! We read this account and it seems almost funny to the point of absurdity; however, Jesus sees much of what we do as foolishly absurd also. We are walking bundles of contradictions when it comes to right and wrong! A man named George Waelis Koch wrote “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.” Commentator Charles Allen adds “Don’t look for the faults as you go through life, and even when you find them, it’s wise and kind to be somewhat blind, and look for the virtues behind them.” (Charles L. Allen; The Sermon on the Mount; 150-51)
In Matthew 7:3-5 Jesus explains how many were concerned about a speck of dust in someone else’s eye while there was a “plank” in their own eye. He was telling them they were hypocrites and did not even know it! Are we really any better than the legalistic religious leaders in Jesus’ day? Do we engage in the same sorts of behavior as they? If you hate half-truths and lies in others but turn around and tell half-truths and lies you are being a hypocrite. If you hate gossip when others are gossiping but you repeat gossip yourself you are being a hypocrite. If you hate people breaking commitments, but then you break your commitments you are being a hypocrite. If you condemn theft yet you are not completely honest when it comes to your own finances you are being a hypocrite. Do you hate careless remarks when others make them but think nothing of it when you make them? If so, you are a hypocrite.
In Matthew 7:5 Jesus, in fact, bluntly calls them “hypocrites!” He tells them to get their “stuff” together first and remove the “plank” from their own eye and then they will be able to see clearly to help their brother or sister remove the “speck” from their own eye. Jesus is saying to them the “plank” in your eye is obstructing your vision and you cannot properly see to assist others. If you love your brother or sister, as you should, you will judge righteously, but if you only love yourself, you will naturally judge harshly.
The problem often is that people only love themselves. Yet, Jesus tells everyone “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We would not want anyone to know that we are self-centered but the cold hard truth is that everything always seems to be about us! Many can condemn everyone and everything around them as inferior, inadequate, and insignificant, but strangely believe what they say, do, and think is vitally important. This is not how Jesus wanted us to live. As Christians there is a better way to live. We must not be the center of our own universe. Jesus must be at the center! If He is at the center, we will see other people as we see ourselves.
Some believers need an extractor to get the plank taken out of their own eyes so that they can see clearly to help a fellow man with his problems and difficulties. We are fellow strugglers all striving to make it through life and find hope and salvation. The Great Commission Jesus gave could be stated this way “Go out and tell others about the hope that you have found.” Doing what is right, judging all things righteously, and practicing forgiveness, is strong evidence for possessing a heart that has been changed by the power of the Gospel.
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor