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Jesus’ Judgments on Judging!

The balance and beauty of the teaching of Jesus Christ continues to amaze me. Unlike so many of the messages that daily bombard our ears and seek entry into our hearts, the teaching of Jesus never goes to a fanatical extreme or emphasizes one facet of a truth to the neglect or distortion of another. One passage that clearly illustrates this balance is found in Matthew 7:1-6. The six verses skillfully and succinctly address a subject where so many go to one extreme or the other - the subject of judging. The verses read as follows: 1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. 6 Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Those six short verses contain Jesus' judgements on judging. They are concise and clear and conclusive. We can only briefly consider them here.

"Judge not, that you be not judged." Frequently quoted, these words are often used in an attempt to say something completely out of sync with the tone of the rest of the passage! The passage is not an "escape" clause that justifies and legitimizes any and every kind of belief, behavior, relationship or lifestyle, no matter how immoral. The judging Jesus judges in the passage is clear. He rebukes hyper-critics who search and dig for even the minutest amount of dirt in other people's lives, or, to use Jesus' metaphor, eyes. They are bent on finding in their brother or sister's eye a "mote" or, as the New King James Version says, "a speck." Here's where the balance in the passage becomes clear. Jesus did not say a "speck" in a person's eye is a little thing or that it should be ignored. His beef is not with those who seek to help others deal with a "speck" in the eye. His criticism is aimed at critics who find it so easy to "look at the speck in your brother's eye" but who "do not consider the plank in your own eye." Their sense of propriety and fairness is all out of whack! These speck-inspectors and eye-gougers poke around recklessly in other people's eyes, even while a "plank" the size of a log or floor joist is sticking out of their own eye/life. Talk about "the pot calling the kettle black!" The Lord's directive is clear — first get the "planks" (read "big" sins) out of your own life, and then you can see more clearly to help others with their "speck-sized" sins (see Galatians 6:1-2). It's not judging per se Jesus condemns or forbids. Re-read verse 6 above. The gospel of truth is a holy pearl in our hands — and Jesus clearly expects us to be able to recognize the "dogs and hogs" who would devalue and destroy it and us if given the opportunity. On one hand Jesus judges speck-hunters who are hyper-critical and hypocritical. On the other hand He judges those who are unwilling to judge between a pig and pearl. Those are Jesus' judgments about judging. Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ