Jul 16, 2012
Let’s say a man at your church leaves his loving wife and children and moves in with a girlfriend.
How should you respond?
Jesus says — do not judge him (Matt 7:1).
What does that mean?
You could think it means you should not make a moral judgment about whether his action was right or wrong.
But that can’t be what Jesus meant — because four verses later Jesus wants us to notice the speck of sin in his eye and remove it —
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. (Matt 7:5)
So Jesus doesn’t want us to say — “hey, if having a speck in your eye works for you, who am I to judge?”
No. He wants us to make the moral judgment — based on Scripture — that this is a dangerous speck of sin in his eye.
So what DOES “do not judge” mean?
The Greek word “judge” can mean to make moral judgments — where we say that something is right or wrong.
But it can also mean to make condemning, despising judgments — where we say that we are superior and someone else is inferior.
You can see this condemning, despising meaning in Rom 14:10 —
Why do you judge your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother?
Paul says we should not judge our brother. And the second sentence shows that he means we should not despise him — look down on him — or see ourselves as superior and him as inferior.
So the Greek word “judge” can mean making a moral judgment — but it can also mean making a condemmning, despising judgment.
Back to Matthew 7
So think again about this man who left his wife and children.
When Jesus says “do not judge,” he does not mean “don’t make a moral judgment.”
No, the Bible says this man has sinned — he’s got a dangerous speck of sin in his eye.
What Jesus does mean is “don’t make a condemning, despising judgment” — don’t despise him, look down on him, see yourself as superior to him.
So how can I tell if I am making a condemning, despising judgment?
Here are some clues. I am making a condemning, despising judgment if —
- I feel superior to him, look down on him, think I am better than him.
- I say things like “‘I’d never leave my wife.”
- I’m not weeping over him, longing for him to repent and be restored.
- I feel pleasure in thinking about what he did (because it makes me feel superior)
- I feel pleasure in talking to others about what he did (same reason)
Is anyone immune from this? I’m not.
So we have to ask —
How can we obey this?
Jesus gives a powerful reason to motivate us —
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
If I respond to this man’s sin with condemning and despising judgment — then God will use that same standard with me — God will respond to my sin with condemning and despising judgment.
It doesn’t get more serious than that.
Why so serious?
Jesus explains in v.3 —
Why do you see the speck [of sin] that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log [of sin] that is in your own eye?
If I condemn and despise this brother for his sin of leaving his wife, that shows I have forgotten about my own sin.
Why? Because if I remembered my own sin, the punishment I deserve from God, and what He did in punishing His own Son in my place — I would be so humbled and grateful that I could not condemn and despise anyone.
So — if I am condemning and despising someone — that shows I am not living in the shadow of the Cross.
And if I persist in this without changing — that would show I have never lived in the shadow of the Cross — I have never been saved — which is why God would despise and condemn me.
So what should I do?
How should I respond to this man who left his wife?
First — make the moral judgment based on Scripture that he has a dangerous speck of sin in his eye.
Second — remove the log of sin from your own eye. Own up to your sinfulness. Repent of any unconfessed sin. Receive fresh assurance of forgiveness through trusting Jesus Christ. And be so humbled by your sin and God’s grace that instead of condemning and despising this man — you love and care for him.
Third — remove the speck of sin from your brother’s eye. Go to him humbly. Share from God’s Word the seriousness of sin and the offer of grace in Christ. Plead with him to repent. Show him God’s promises of help and heart-satisfaction. Offer to stand with him. Pray with and for him.
- You will be free from your log
- Your brother will feel only love from you
- Your brother will have every reason to be restored to Christ
How have you experienced this?
I’d love to hear your thoughts — leave a comment below. Thanks!
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And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —
"Put on Humility." Ok -- but HOW?
Can A Believer Lose Salvation?
How to Obey God -- Self-Pushing or Spirit-Empowering?
(Picture from everystockphoto by creationc.)