A follower of Rocky’s Ramblings asked me to share some thoughts on this topic some time back, and I thought it was particularly appropriate to our current national situation, so I’m re-sharing. At the outset, we need to recognize that this theme actually contains two statements: ‘who am I to judge’ and ‘I walk imperfectly. I’m going to separate the two and then pull them back together at the end.
The first part of that statement sounds like the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” At first glance, Jesus seems to be admonishing us to go about living our lives, turning a blind eye to the spiritual needs of others. After all, would that not require that we judge them as needing spiritual help? Is Jesus absolving us of any responsibility for lives falling apart around us – to ‘live and let live’ lest we be guilty of judging? To answer that question, we must understand that ‘to live and let live’, is more accurately ‘to live and let die’…the very opposite of our Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Yes, Jesus does tell us here to ‘not judge’. But, He was not telling us to simply allow immeasurable mayhem and false teaching to go unchecked – in the spiritual or political realm, in our churches or families. Clearly, Jesus has a deeper message about judging, which requires that we dig deeper to find it.
Jesus continues in the very next verse with, “For in the way (emphasis added) you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2) Drop down a few verses to Matthew 7:6, and see that Jesus, in the same lesson, admonishes us not to give what is holy to dogs and not to throw pearls before swine. I don’t think he’s talking about tossing valuable jewelry to the family pets or livestock. So, clearly, we must be able to discern (make a judgment call) as to what or who He is calling dogs and the swine. Hop on over to John 7:24, also the words of Jesus, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” So, Jesus teaches us to ‘judge not’ AND to ‘judge rightly’. So, it is clearly not as simple as saying that we should never make ‘judgments.’ There are good Biblical reasons to use good discernment – to make judgment calls -at some level.
The second part of that theme, ‘…when I myself walk imperfectly’, sounds a lot like Matthew 7:4, again, the words of Jesus Christ, “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?” At first glimpse it seems to agree with the ‘judge not’ doctrine that we just tagged as wrongly applied. But, here’s a quandry: if we are not to judge, and we are to live and let live (die), then what allows us to judge ourselves as walking imperfectly? What does that even mean? But, that’s a much bigger question, and one for another day.
Let’s go back to Matthew 7:4 and look to the very next verse, “You hypocrite, 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.” Should we NOT help our brother with the speck in his eye? Notice that Jesus says, FIRST take the log out of your own eye, THEN you can see to take the speck from your brother’s eye. What Jesus was actually telling us all through Matthew 7:1-8 is that we SHOULD be working toward helping our brother with their spiritual needs. But, that begins by cleaning up our own lives, lest we deal with our brother’s as hypocrites.
As Christians, we are to live our lives in accordance to what we say we believe. In fact, Peter admonishes us by referring back to Leviticus, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16) If we are not striving to do so, we are rightly indicted of hypocrisy when trying to ‘remove the speck’ from our brother’s eye and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with nonbelievers. From this perspective, we should take this theme as a challenge to live our lives so that we have proper standing to say, as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
by Rocky Rockwell, RockysRamblings.com