Thanks to Tupac Amaru Shakur, we have an entire generation of people who use this single phrase to justify their poor behavior and bad decisions: “ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME.” To be sure, no one likes a judgmental person. By definition, someone who is judgmental is one who is excessively critical, offering opinions where none were asked or needed. To subjugated to the small, narrow view of one who has no flexibility to see things another way is nerve wrecking. However, there has to be some balance.
Jesus talks about being judgmental in Matthew 7, and his approach to the topic is very balanced:
1. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (Verse 1)
Most people will stop the discussion at this verse, taking it completely out of context. Jesus is not encouraging us not to have an opinion. Judgement means coming to a conclusion based on the information presented. In our legal system, judges and juries do this everyday, as do you and I. We would set ourselves up for failure, distress and aggravation if we didn’t observe things and come to some conclusions. I believe The Message Bible puts this statement in its proper context by saying, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment.“
Jesus is teaching us, that even though you may have an opinion on the matter, don’t use that freedom to pick people apart. Sin and wrong doing should be identified and addressed; but being excessively opinionated exposes you.
2. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Verse 2)
Whether it is right or wrong is of no consequence, but people will usually treat you the way you treat them. If you continually disregard people and their feelings, it will be difficult for you to find compassion. If you have no capacity for tolerance, it will be next to impossible for you to receive patience. Be mindful that your critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.
3. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye. Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?” (Verse 3 -4)
Now here is the meat of the argument. Jesus wants you to question the merit of your judgment. Is it possible that your judgement is unfair? People have a knack for putting their mouths on other people’s situation, while totally ignoring their own. If you are in a similar or worse situation, you really have no place correcting someone else. How can you give grief about someone drinking, and you’re sloppy drunk?
4. “… first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Verse 5b)
We, no matter what state we’re in, should be more concerned about correcting ourselves than we are about correcting others. Jesus is teaching us that we should correct ourselves, so then we can judge righteously. Too often, we judge others through the lens of our own experience. But let me be clear, your perspective is not truth, nor is your opinion absolute. Sometimes people need to be reminded that the sun didn’t need anyone’s permission to rise. Everything is not about you and how you see things, because your vision can be skewed. You may not even be qualified to judge.
5. “You hypocrite …” (Verse 5a)
(I changed the order for greater emphasis) Being a hypocrite means playing to the crowd, and putting on a show. If you have the need to address someone else’s flaws, make sure you do in love. Never put on the mask of hypocrisy, thinking that everyone is oblivious to the “log in your eye”.
1 Corinthians 4:5 teaches us to judge nothing too quickly. You may not have the whole story. Your view may be inaccurately skewed because your own experiences. And if you feel the need to share your opinion, do it in love, and leave the final judgement to God. Having the right to do something, does always make it right to do.
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