General Idea: The best way to cover your own sins and wrongdoings is to attack someone who is good, and righteous, because it will throw the dogs off their tracks, taking the attention off you and placing it elsewhere. In addition, a righteous person will not defend himself, as he/she is rooted in Christ, and not in the world. The best way to attack someone is to judge him/her! However, if you are rooted in Christ, such tactics should nauseate you in disgust. A Christian must exercise discernment as well as kindness, and not follow the evil desires of the Will and the world. This is not merely a theory; it is a mandate from our Lord!
It is characteristic of our fallen, human, sinful nature to see the faults in others, but, more often than not, those very faults we point out in others are those we have too! We have to be willing to look at, ourselves, our flaws, and the things we all need to improve on, and place our focus there. Our responsibility is to grow in character, not point out faults in others unless it is done through the relationship of a mentor, and with the disposition of the Fruits of the Spirit. For good relationships to be built, we have to be willing and able to treat others in the same manner we want to be treated.
1. Judge not! There are different types of judgment. One involves being discerning, not allowing harm to come to you or others from those who cause harm. And, along with that, comes sensitivity to potential trouble, attempting to prevent the bad actions of others. This is a service, which, ideally, the church, as well as law enforcement and community involvement, is supposed to do.
a. There is also the judgment/discernment of evaluating the spiritual and mental health of others. But, what Jesus is referring to here is condemning the faults in others to cover up our own faults--especially the ones we refuse to see in ourselves. He also is condemning the practice of verbally attacking others, which will only bring condemnation on us. The imagery that Jesus uses is the market place measuring scale. When we judge, the false, hypocritical, and self-righteous attitude is put on the scales, and counts against us, calling down God's judgment on us (Prov. 19:17; Matt. 5:7; 6:14-15).
i. Consider how severe the penalty for false judgments were in the OT (Ex. 23:6-8; Duet. 16:18-20; 18:19-21).
ii. "Judge not, that you be not judged" is a popular saying in western society, often spoken when someone is pointing out the faults of another, or if one feels someone else is judging him. The secular impression is that we should never make moral judgments in others.
b. However, that is not what Jesus implies. We are to judge right and wrong in some things, such as sin versus virtue (James 4:11-12). There are times when we are called to judge as we exercise church discipline. This is correcting one who teaches in error, and if he/she does not heed the correcting, he/she must step down. Church leaders are called to exercise discerning judgment as to the moral or spiritual condition of the people under their care. This is always done in the character of the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
2. Speck and plank in the eye refers to the need for eye surgery. In the Greek, it is a word play, using hyperbole speech-exaggeration for emphasis that is both shocking and humorous. This means we must correct our own faults by removing the beam from our own eye; then we will able to see, discern, and help others who are not dealing with their faults (Gal. 6:1-2).
a. Many prophets also used hyperbole speech, such as word plays, graphic speeches, and humor to communicate God's message (Micah 1; Jer. 1:11-12)
i. In Jesus' time, they would cut an incision onto the eye and drain the fluid to help, but all this did was make the situation much worse. And so it is when we judge wrongly!
ii. It is wrong for anyone to focus their attention on the speck in his brother's eye, while his/her own eye is occupied with the same, or another fault (Psalm 18:25-26; Rom. 2:1)!
b. We are called to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24; 1 Cor 5:9-13; Gal. 6:1; 1 John 4:1). We are to be discerning, and not allow immorality and false teachings to emerge from the Church, or allow such things to attack the Church from the outside. It is just as the U.S. military is commissioned to protect citizens from enemies, both foreign and domestic!
i. The Lord is also condemning judging in the spirit of self-righteousness and condemnation, without mercy or love (Luke 6:36-37; James 2:13).
ii. We need to realize our sinful nature and how much Christ forgave us, less for with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. The implication is that we will be judged by the same standards we use to judge another!
iii. The ultimate judgment is to come! So, are you preparing yourself for that day when the Lord will judge you (John 12:48; 2 Cor. 5:10)?
c. When we judge by attacking others, or by putting them down, we are refusing to forgive (Mat. 6:14-15)! If you are unwilling to see the faults in yourself and be in the process of resolving them, then you have no right to help others by critiquing them! If you think you have no faults, you are deluding yourself, lying to God and others (Rom. 2:17-24). We have to be humble and accept correction to be used by God (Prov. 15:31).
d. The right way to help someone with faults is to go to them privately with constructive criticism in love, and offer gentle, humble criticism and help that would lift them up (Matt. 10: 12-15; Acts 13:42-46; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).
i. If we were to remain silent when people teach false doctrine or behave wrongly, we would allow reproach, that is, false impressions to come upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, causing Him to be misrepresented.
ii. Remember the need for prayer!
iii. Remember the need for love!
e. Refuse to compare yourself with others!
f. Do you try to control the Spirit or does the Spirit control you? Which way do you think pleases God and your attitude will be the proof test of how real and impacting your faith is!
g. Hypocrite (see Theological note below.) It is as impossible to be a Christian hypocrite, just as it is impossible to be half pregnant. Either you are, or you are not. The fruit will show your true colors.
3. What is holy refers to what belongs to Believers versus unbelievers.
a. If you look closely, Jesus did not perform any miracles or healings to unbelievers. In Acts, the Apostles did not continue to preach where they were not welcome, where people did not believe (Acts 10:14; 15:14; 13:44-51; 18:5-6; 28:17-28).
b. To the Dogs. When you see dogs in the Bible, it is not referring to Lassie, or the family pet. These are scavengers--the mangy, wild dogs that roamed the cities bothering people who would even grow and snarl at people who gave them food as well at those who ignored them. These dogs would sometimes terrorize people, and devourer children. These were considered to be the worst of the unclean animals, along with pigs (Prov. 11:22; 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22). When people are likened to these, it means they have no discernment or appreciation of what is valuable or important, and includes, as well, people who refuse to listen (Prov. 23:9).
Jesus tells us, simply put, DO NOT JUDGE! That means we are not to be critical or have a measuring stick to which we compare everyone else! A Christian who is critical and condescending is a terrible destructive force to the Kingdom of God, as they exhibit the direct opposite behavior of what a Christian should be.
It is the role of the Holy Spirit to give a critique, and He will work with you way before using you to work with someone else! Every wrong thought you may observe in others already exists in you, and if you are unwilling to deal with it, while pointing it out in others, you would be as Proverbs so eloquently puts it, A FOOL! The chief characteristic of a Christian should be humility! Remember, if God judged you correctly and righteously, you would go straight to Hell, as you deserve neither Grace, nor His love. But, because of His Grace, you have heaven-and Him--for eternity!
May God help keep us all from such judging and enable us to be more useful in helping others with their problems.
1. Are you more likely to trust people first until proven wrong or start by distrusting others until they prove themselves as trustworthy?
2. How often have you observed Christians covering up their sins and wrongdoings by attacking someone who is good and righteous? How does that make you feel? What does this say to the community?
3. Why do they do such despicable things? How can it be rationally argued as something a good Christian should do? (Keep in mind it is in the sinful, human nature, to rationale sin as OK)
4. Why would righteous persons not defend themselves? (Keep in mind how Jesus handled those who came against Him)
5. What is Jesus attacking in this passage?
6. When people, especially Christians, are being hypocritical, how do you feel and react about it? Should such tactics cause you to be nauseated and disgusted? Why, or why not?
7. How can you, as a Christian, exercise discernment/judgment alongside with kindness, and not follow the evil desires of the Will and the world?
8. Why do people see faults in others when, more often than not, the very faults they point out in others are the ones they have, too?
9. Are you willing to look at yourself, the flaws, and the things we all have that need improvement, and place your focus there? If not, what is in the way?
10. Why is it important that a Christian, especially a leader, knows the different types of judgments, and is able to exercise them correctly? What happens if he/she refuses to do so?
11. The secular impression of this passage is that we should never make moral judgments on others. Is this true? How is it not?
12. What would happen if we, as a Church, were to remain silent when people teach false doctrine or behave wrongly?
13. Our responsibility is to grow in our character and not point out faults in others unless it is done as a mentor, and with the disposition of the Fruits of the Spirit. So, what would your proper response be to sizing others up, and finding a balance between not judging, yet protecting your family and the people of God?
14. What are some of the specks and planks that have been in your eye? Do you need eye surgery--faults that need to be corrected?
15. Are you preparing yourself for the day when the Lord will judge you (John 12:48; 2 Cor. 5:10)?
16. How, and why, when we judge by attacking others, or by putting them down, are we are refusing to forgive?
17. Why is it impossible to be a Christian hypocrite?
18. Why would a Christian, who is critical and condescending, be a terrible, destructive force to the Kingdom of God?
19. What can you do to have the attitude and mindset of humility, so you can accept correction, and be used by God (Prov. 15:31)?
20. What would be a good way for your church to train and encourage people in the right way to help someone with faults, so it is done privately, with constructive criticism, in love, and with the offer of gentle and humble assessment to help lift them up (Matt. 10: 12-15; Acts 13:42-46; 2 Tim. 2:24-26)?
When you ask someone, "Would you like to be a Christian?" you are in fact saying, "Would you like to be like me?" Therefore, we must be careful in our daily actions, words, and deeds and how we tell someone about the Lord. Remember, in Matthew 23, Jesus is warning us about misleading people.
Do not ever believe that our performances are realities. People will see right through us. We have bad days. We make mistakes. After all, we are human, and we cannot be perfect all the time. Our culture does not want us to be perfect, just genuine.
Pride is the destroyer of humbleness. Pride is the fruit of hypocrisy (or, should I say, the rotten vegetable?), and humbleness is the destroyer of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot exist in an environment filled with humility. This is because in our humility, we are glued to our Lord and not to ourselves. Godliness cannot exist in an atmosphere of pride!