Sermon on the Mount
“The Non-Christian’s Favorite Bible Verse!”
Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. 3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
First, I want to get out of the way the idea that Jesus taught us to never judge, which is the way our non-Christian culture has interpreted what we just read.
Dolly Parton, who has 7 Grammys, said: “But as far as the Christians, if people want to pass judgment [on gays], they’re already sinning. The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing.”
Is that a true statement? Or is it a typical misinterpretation of what Jesus actually taught?
As for judging in general, if we’re honest we would have to admit that it is impossible “not” to form an opinion and pass a judgment about something that we know is evil or wrong.
Everybody judges. Those that love the verse the most use it to judge the person they’re telling not to judge!
The fact is, Scripture calls us to judge things that are wrong, dangerous, deceptive, and not of or from God.
1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
And in John’s gospel Jesus talks about the wrong and right kind of judgment:
John 7:24 “Do not judge by appearance [superficially and arrogantly], but judge fairly and righteously.”
ILLUS: As a kid I learned early on the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes.
Because the ability to tell the difference between the 2 can save your very life!
For instance, the Coral snake and King snake look very much alike at first glance.
They both have very pretty black, red and yellow rings. But the King snake is completely harmless, while the Coral snake is a deadly venomous member of the cobra family.
Both can be encountered in America! So how can you tell the difference? Because you have to make a judgment, and fast!
The snake’s ring pattern is the key. If red and yellow rings are touching, it is a venomous coral snake every time. Also, the coral snake’s head is black.
The scarlet king snake’s head is mostly red. And on a king snake red never touches yellow, on the Coral snake it always does.
There’s an old saying that helps to remember the difference—Red touches yellow, kills a fellow. Red touches black, friend of Jack.
This little fact about snakes illustrates what true spiritual discernment and judgment are about.
Just as the coral and king snakes look so much alike at first glance and only minor differences separate them, your spiritual life can hang on judging subtle differences between what is right and ALMOST right.
Hence, 1 John 4:1 warns us to hone our discernment skills and practice the right kind of judgment!
DISCERNMENT is not always the ability to tell obvious differences between true and false. It is the ability to tell the difference between true and almost true, biblical and almost biblical, what is of God and almost of God!
Discerning the difference can save your life!
It was Jesus Himself that taught us to judge the fruit of ministers and professing prophets:
Matt 7:16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?”
We are to judge the fruit, meaning the content and results of ministries that come our way:
-Have their followers born the fruit of the Spirit?
-Is their message Biblical?
-Did Paul, Peter, James, John, or Jude teach what they’re teaching in the epistles?
-Are they “rightly dividing the word of truth?”
-Is their life moral, upright, and Christ honoring?
How will we know these things without passing a judgment?
To not operate in the right kind of judgment can quickly land you in big trouble!
So Jesus does call us to judge, just be sure it’s in fairness and righteousness!
So in verse 1 he’s simply warning against the wrong kind of judgment.
So back to Matthew 7, next in verse 2 Jesus teaches the law of return regarding the right or wrong kind of judgment:
7:2 “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
This is a fact of life!
If you are a harsh, unmerciful, condemning person, always judging others without the facts and believing the worst of them, both God and the world will return that back to you!
We’ve seen earlier in the Beatitudes that Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
James writes, “12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free (the gospel). 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”—2:12-13
And this is what leads into Jesus’s following description of the wrong kind of judgment:
7:3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
This is an almost humorous illustration of a hypocrite.
The one passing judgment on another has even worse sins or faults of their own!
The Greek word for speck is splinter, and log refers to a beam of timber!
This person is focusing on the minor faults in another while they themselves have much greater faults.
And the picture Jesus draws is of the hypocrite being totally unable to help another with their problems because their own stuff has blinded their eye!
They can’t see well enough to remove a splinter from their brother’s eye!
So Jesus asks:
7:4 “How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”
This reminds me of Paul’s words to the Galatians regarding a fallen brother:
Gal 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
The word “considering” is from the word σκοπέω—to look at closely.
It means we’re to make sure the same thing or worse is not in us before seeking to judge another.
Paul talks about this very thing regarding the Jews of his day:
Romans 2:1-3,21-23 “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. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”
Vs.21-22 “You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who say “Don’t pray to idols” and then make money your god instead?
Then Jesus ends his talk on the wrong kind of judging with a strong word:
7:5 “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Get your own life right, and not only will it bless you, it will make you an able minister for those in need!