“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘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? 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.” – Luke 6:37-32.
There is a story of a bishop who was embarking on a transatlantic voyage. When on board, he discovered he was sharing the cabin with another passenger. After going to his cabin, the bishop went to the purser’s desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that he normally didn’t take that type of precaution, but after meeting his cabin mate, he grew concerned that the other man appeared to be untrustworthy. The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, ’It’s all right, bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!’“
The verse about not judging lest you be judged, is probably the most misquoted and taken out of context verse in the Bible. I have talked about it and have heard it talked about on multiple occasions. Often it is used to stop a conversation. Somebody will say “Judge not, lest you be judged,” and the conversation generally stops because who wants to be labeled judgmental? This series is intended to help us to learn and understand the Bible.
Let’s look at the big picture of Matthew 7:1-5. Those verses are not saying not to “judge” things, but it is saying not to do it hypocritically. There are many examples in the Bible where we are even called to judge things. Jesus even tells us how we are to judge things in John 7:24, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” We are to first “judge” ourselves. We are to examine ourselves to make sure that we aren’t doing the very thing that we are admonishing someone else to not do.
Jesus’ point here isn’t to say that we always have the same problem we see in others, just that we tend to see in others what we have in ourselves. In this passage, Jesus warns of the human tendency to judge based on our own faults and flaws. This warning is one that should be considered before any assumption about another’s behavior or intentions. Instead, the passage asserts that we should always examine ourselves first to see if the splinter we see is actually affixed to our own eye—and only if our eye is clean can we trust our judgment enough to begin the process of helping remove the offense from anyone else. This is an incredibly important point, both emphasizing the importance of good judgment and the steps necessary to acquire it.
- What are some ways that we have a tendency to judge others? What are some general perceptions of what it means to judge others?
- According to Jesus, why are we often unfit to be judges (Matthew 7:3-4)? Are we ever fit to be judges?
- Some have assumed that Jesus was forbidding all judgment. How would you respond to this suggestion? What kind of judgment does He have in mind?
- Jesus refers to our relationship to believers (brothers and sisters). What steps must we take to truly help a brother or sister?