What You’ve Been Searching For
How Christians Should Judge
Why are Christians so judgmental? You’re judging me now for the shirt I’m wearing. I’m judging my cameraman for his man bun. Everybody’s judgy, judgy, judgy pants these days. Why are Christians so judgmental, or is that a bad thing, really? Let’s talk about it. This is Joel Fieri. This is What You’ve Been Searching For. Stay tuned.
We’re talking about the scariest verses in the Bible. If you caught last week’s podcast, you know I talked about in 1 Corinthians, the scary verses about taking communion, and if you take communion in the wrong way, you might get sick or even die. But if you caught that podcast, you also know that context is everything. In the context of that passage, we’re more concerned with how you are taking communion in relation to other people. Are you hogging the resources? Are you getting drunk while they go hungry? Do you see yourself as better than other Christians? That’s the real issue.
Here’s another verse that doesn’t necessarily scare Christians. Sometimes it does, but I think it intimidates us more than anything. I’m talking about Matthew 7, verses one through five, the “judging others” passage that’s often thrown back at us as Christians when we try and assert Christian morality.
In Matthew 7, Jesus is talking and he says, starting in verse one, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” We usually stop there, or at least the people that come at us with this verse usually stop there. But there’s much more. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged. And with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there’s a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite. First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Now, there’s a couple of different ways I want to look at this. First of all, as I mentioned, a lot of times we just stop with verse one, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” and that’s where we ended. In the same way also, as the verse goes on, we also tend to focus just on the “log in your own eye” issue. Say, “Don’t judge others, worry about yourself. Take care of your own sin and don’t be so judgmental of other people.” But that’s not what this verse is saying.
It actually has both aspects to it, but there’s one more aspect that people don’t like to focus on. What Jesus is saying here is, don’t be hypocritical in your judgment. Earlier in chapter 6, he was talking about all the things that we shouldn’t be hypocritical about when we come into the house of God. Our giving, or our praying, or our worshiping. We shouldn’t be hypocritical and think we’re doing it better than anyone else.
What he’s saying here is, don’t judge thinking you’re better than anyone else. Don’t use your standard. Don’t put yourself in the position of judging or being the judge of other people. Use God’s judgment. That’s born out as he goes on and talks about the log or the plank in your own eye.
In verse three, he says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there’s a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite. First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” That’s the part that’s usually left off.
The reason you take the plank out of your own eye is not to take care of your own sin, which in a way it is, but also, so you can help your brother with his sin. There is an aspect we need to be involved in the lives of our fellow Christians. One thing I see in scripture, when Jesus talks to his disciples, I think in a lot of instances, we take what he’s saying, what he’s telling his disciples to do with one another, and we should take that to the world, and that should be our dealings with the rest of the world. I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think that’s the case here.
I think he’s talking about judging and dealing with the sin in the lives of fellow Christians. We have permission, as long as we take the plank out of our own eye, to involve ourselves in the lives of our fellow believers, for whatever they might be disobedient in. In my own life, there’s been a couple of instances that stand out with this.
Years ago, before I got married, I was part of a group of single people. We all hung together, and one of our group was getting married. We all went to his wedding. During this wedding, one of the women in the group, that always had hung with us, had a bit of a drinking problem. She got very drunk during this wedding. After the wedding, she went walking towards her car to drive home. I mentioned to some of her girlfriends, I said, “Somebody needs to stop her. Somebody needs to take her keys and tell her she’s in no condition to drive home. She’s putting herself and other people at risk, and somebody needs to take her home.”
All her girlfriends looked at me and said, “No, we can’t do that, because we’ve done that before too. We’ve been drunk. We don’t want to judge her. We’re in no position to judge her.” No, first of all, you’re not judging her. You’re keeping her from doing something really foolish and dangerous. But on the other hand, I said, “You guys have taken that plank out of your own eyes. None of you has drinking problems.” As far as I knew, I’d never seen any of them with the same problem. I said, “You can do this. You can go up to her and tell her that she shouldn’t drive in that condition,” but they wouldn’t do it.
By the way, none of the guys in the group would do it either because during the wedding, this girl had made drunken passes at just about all of us. So we didn’t want to go anywhere near a car with her in it. I’d like to tell you that nothing happened, she didn’t get in a wreck or anything, so it’s not that this came to a really bad end because of our decision not to intervene. But it was a wrong decision. We let her drive home drunk just because we thought we would be too judgmental on her. We weren’t in a position to do that, when we really were.
The second example is years later, after I got married, my wife and I were leaders of a small group at our former church. It was hosted by another couple, it was a group full of couples, married couples, at this other couple’s house. At one point, a couple came into the group that wasn’t married, but was living together. We accepted them into the group hoping, obviously, that would change. The motto of the church at the time was, “Come as you are, but for God’s sake, don’t stay that way. Change.” So, that was the spirit in which we welcomed them into the group.
They were not at all shy about saying that they weren’t married. They didn’t see it as a problem. A couple of sessions into this, after a few months in the group, the wife of the host couple was communicating with the woman in that relationship and said, “You know, we’d love to have you come back and be part of the group, but we’d also like to see you guys be obedient to God and get married.” That didn’t go over at all with this woman. She felt very judged. She was very offended, and she could not understand why we were judging her and her partner like that.
It caused quite a kerfuffle, quite a ruckus. But me as the leader of the group, I looked at the situation and told the host wife, I said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. You took care of the plank in your own eye. All of us in the group who had some kind of issue in that area, and we all took the planks out of our own eyes. We all got married and stayed faithful in our marriage relationships. So we were in a position to lovingly say to this couple, ‘Hey, let us take that speck out of your own eye. We would love to see you become obedient to God’s word and get married.'”
Again, there wasn’t a good end to this one. She left the group. It was a very large church, so I don’t know if she left the church at all, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this woman went around saying how horribly judgmental people were at our church, and how they didn’t accept us for what we were. But that really wasn’t the case. We were making a good, a sound, assessment of the situation.
Because we had taken care of our own sin, we were in a position to see clearly, what was the issue with this couple. We lovingly suggested it, but it didn’t matter, we were still very judgmental. I think that’s why Christians are so afraid of these verses. They’re afraid of being called judgmental when they’re really not. I think that’s so much a part of our dealings with the world. We hate it so much when the world says we’re judgmental, or mean, or whatever it is, because we know we’re not, and we don’t want to be seen that way.
But sometimes you are seen that way. That’s one of the costs of following Christ. Again, as long as it’s kept within the body of believers, we don’t put this expectation on people outside of Christianity, but we do with our brothers and sisters. So, I don’t think we should be so afraid of this verse. I think it gives us a lot of leeway. It gives us a lot of grace and we, within this verse, are free to pass that grace on to our brothers and sisters.
I hope that is helpful. I hope that helps explain why we shouldn’t be so fearful, and why this isn’t a very scary verse to me. Next week, I’m going to talk about a verse that is very scary to me, and I think should be scary. I’ve done verses that are scary, that I don’t think should be scary, but now I’m going to tackle one that I think really is scary, and we all should be, at least if not scared, at least very aware of the consequences and the impact of it.
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