Judging (Matthew 7:1-6; Luke 6:37-42)

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2007-12-18 11:32.

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Judgmental individuals, those who are quick to censure or condemn, place themselves in line for the same treatment. Therefore, wise are all who heed Jesus’ admonition, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” The “measure” or standard of judgment the censorious person uses is the very one by which others will judge him. (Matthew 7:1, 2; Luke 6:37)

Those who listened to Jesus’ teaching about judgment would have considered a fellow Israelite to be a “brother.” The Greek term kárphos designates a particle of wood, chaff, or straw, and can apply to a speck or a splinter, whereas the word dokós designates a beam or a heavy piece of timber. Addressing those who were inclined to be judgmental, Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but do not notice the beam in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get rid of the speck from your eye,’ when, see! [there is] a beam in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3, 4; Luke 6:41, 42)

Censorious individuals are quick to notice the minor flaws of others but to overlook their own faults, which, by comparison, may actually be more like a beam than a speck. With their vision or personal judgment obscured, they are in no position to help a brother in overcoming a flaw. On account of their own serious failings, they would likely cause great harm in their attempt to do so.

Jesus referred to the seriously flawed judgmental person as a “hypocrite.” (Matthew 7:5; Luke 6:42) Censorious individuals adopt a double standard, minimizing their own faults and exaggerating those of others. They may even condemn certain traits in others but consider them desirable in their own case. For example, they may call someone else hypercritical for making certain expressions but view themselves as having keen discernment for reacting similarly in comparable situations.

Endeavoring to free oneself of undesirable traits is extremely difficult. Bad habits are not easily replaced by good ones. So, the one with the serious fault comparable to a beam needed to rid himself first of his own obstacle in order to see clearly. Then he would be in a far better position to act with compassionate insight in an effort to aid his brother to get rid of a “speck.” (Matthew 7:5; Luke 6:42)

There are times, however, when judgments do have to be rendered regarding others and when a failure to do so would be harmful. “Do not give the sacred thing to dogs nor cast your pearls before pigs,” said Jesus. There are individuals who have no appreciation for sacred things or spiritual treasures. Attempts to share with them precious thoughts about God and his lofty ways would be comparable to an Israelite’s throwing meat from a holy communion sacrifice to dogs or valuable pearls to swine. Pigs would only trample upon the pearls and may then turn around and injure the one who foolishly threw the gems in front of them. Similarly, unappreciative persons would commonly resort to ridicule and make light of what was truly noble, trampling upon it. They may even flare up in anger and injure the one who failed to use discernment. (Matthew 7:6)


In Luke 6:37 and 38, there is an expansion of the thought about giving and receiving. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged, and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Release [as when forgiving the transgressions of others or freeing them from the obligation to repay a debt], and you will be released [or pardoned]. Give, and it will be given to you.” The degree to which the generous giver would receive is likened to having a good measure of grain poured into the upper fold of a garment and then having the entire amount pressed down and shaken. Thus the amount would be the largest quantity possible, reaching the point of running over. “With the measure with which you measure, it will be measured back to you.”

The words of Luke 6:39 and 40 do not have a parallel in Matthew’s account. A blind man cannot serve as a reliable guide for another blind person. Unable to see a pit in the path, both he and the one he was leading would fall into it. Likewise, those presuming to be guides for others, trying to correct their faults, can bring harm to themselves and those whom they are endeavoring to set straight. The person being instructed will become like the one providing the teaching. Therefore, discernment is needed in determining whose teaching one would be willing to accept. Those who choose God’s Son as their trustworthy instructor are truly wise, for his teaching would always prove to be dependable and would never lead to a ruinous fall.