Posted on

The One Thing to Avoid When Judging

marriage-gods-way-author-scott-lapierre-judgingIn Matthew 7:1 Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Last post, 3 Truths About Judgingdiscussed what this verse is not saying: judging is wrong. So what is it saying? The primary rule for interpreting Scripture is to look at context. Let the Bible be the commentary on the Bible. Matthew 7:2 says:

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 

We will be judged with the same standard we use with others

If you judge someone for doing something, you better make sure you don’t do it. If you judge people for:

  • Lying, you better not lie
  • Losing their tempers, you better not lose your temper
  • Being late late, you better be on time
  • Watching or listening to things they shouldn’t, you better not watch or listen to anything compromising
  • Gossiping, you better not gossip
  • Not serving, you better be a servant

There’s nothing wrong with saying something is sin, but there is something wrong with saying something is sin while committing the same sin yourself. It’s similar to Romans 2:1:

You are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

If we judge something to be sin in someone else’s life we’re showing we know it to be wrong, and therefore we’re without excuse if we commit that same sin. If you think something is wrong for someone else, you better think it’s wrong for you.

The issue is not judging, but hypocrisy

Matthew 7:3-5 reveals what Jesus is condemning:

Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 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? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

How can you be concerned about a speck in someone else’s life when something as bad (or worse) is in your own life? That is the height of hypocrisy. It wouldn’t be too much to say these verses are not primarily about judging. They are primarily about hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with saying – or judging – that something is wrong. But there is something wrong with saying something is wrong while doing it yourself.

An example takes place with David before he repented of his sins of adultery and murder. Nathan the prophet shared a story with David about a rich man who stole a lamb from a poor man, then 2 Samuel 12:5-7a records:

David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!”

Remove the speck, but be sure to remove the plank first

Jesus didn’t say not to judge, i.e. he didn’t say not to remove the speck from someone else’s eye. But He did say to make sure you have judged yourself first, i.e. removed the sin from your own life before trying to remove it from someone else’s life.

Why is this so important? When we confront others their flesh will flare up and they’ll want to find sin in our life. They’ll want to say something like, “Oh yeah, well what about you…” Jesus’ words allow us to have the credibility we need confronting someone else.

Discuss: Have there been times when you judged people and they turned the tables and pointed out something in your life? Have there been times when people judged you and that’s how you responded?

Related Posts

22 thoughts on “The One Thing to Avoid When Judging

  1. It isn’t just a matter of hypocrisy, but what you choose to use as a basis for judgment. If you judge somebody’s abilities based on their past performance that’s fine, but if you judge their abilities based on their race or gender or something else that is unfair to use as a basis for judgement that is wrong as well.

    1. Hello LDM,
      I “think” I understand what you’re saying. Yes, there are certain things that should – and shouldn’t – be judged. Race and gender are amoral and shouldn’t be criticized. Am I understanding you correctly?

  2. You are right I often think of trick or,treating and dress up and dont think much about the history. Thanks for the reminder that Haloween can mean so much more.,

  3. This is such a great post. I love two things you said here,
    – Let the Bible be a commentary for the Bible. If we dig deep enough, God always has very clear answers in His word. I’ve known a lot of people, myself included, who have gone and talked to other people about certain things and not consulted the Bible personally. Intentions may be good, but all of our answers should come straight from the word of God.
    -“If you think something is wrong for someone else, you better think it’s wrong for you.” This was something I struggled with when I first started witnessing. It’s easy to have things turned around on you. We may be trying to judge righteously and we may be trying to share the Gospel, but we have to make sure that we’re actively seeking God out personally as well and aren’t being hypocritical!

    1. Thank you Kay!

      We’re studying through Revelation on Wednesday nights, and a few times I’ve said, “The symbols in Revelation are explained elsewhere in Revelation, and if not in Revelation than the Old Testament.” In a sense, this is true of most of Scripture that anything confusing is explained elsewhere: letting the Bible be the commentary on the Bible.

      We destroy almost credibility when we speak to people about issues in their lives while having the same in our own!

      By the way, I just saw your post about a study for 25-year-old ladies. Wonderful Kay! I’m looking forward to seeing how God uses you.

  4. Great point! Dealing with our own plank first allows us to have credibility. I think it also allows us to have sympathy and confront in a gentler way. In the end, our goal should be not to just point it out but bring them to the one who can clean it out gently.

    1. You’re right Kristi. I hadn’t really thought of that, but that is one of the advantages of first considering (and removing) our own sin. We’ll be gentler – and humbler – with others, recognizing that we’re no better!

      Yes, directing them to Christ – the true source of forgiveness – is the goal.

  5. I think we are quick to judge our spouses and not even think about it because we are so close to them. Our proximity makes us feel like we somehow have the right to judge. This is a great reminder that those are the ones we need to love first.

    1. Good thoughts Tara, thanks for sharing.

      I’ve said from behind the pulpit that those closest to us – unfortunately – often get the worst from us.

      This definitely allows our spouse, children, parents, etc to see the very worst off. This is why I think often they’re the ones we should strong to hear most clearly.

  6. We often criticise in others the things we dislike most within ourselves. This can happen without us even realising it.

    When we’re tempted to criticise, it may be helpful for us to examine ourselves to see if what we’re pointing to in someone else is really an issue that we haven’t dealt with in ourselves.

    1. Hi Rodney,
      I’ve actually heard it said that the reason we often see certain sins in other people’s lives is because they’re in our lives. We recognize the sin (speck) of others because we’re so familiar with that sin (plank) ourselves.

  7. Great post Scott … this is often a topic which is quoted out of context. I though it was great how you said “There’s nothing wrong with saying something is sin, but there is something wrong with saying something is sin while committing the same sin yourself.” I need to look at myself first before looking at others, and this is often the last thing we as humans tend to do 🙂 Thanks for the reminder! I love the photo at the top of your blog – you have a beautiful family!

    1. Thank you Sam.

      Right. Our flesh makes us more inclined to see the sin in others and less inclined to see the sin in ourselves. One quote I heard – which maybe I should’ve put in the post – is pretty accurate: “My sin on me looks like it should be shown mercy. My sin on you looks like it should be shown judgment.”

  8. I think if you focus on loving each other,correcting each other out of love and showing each other grace. Judging someone won’t be b an issue because you are helping and growing in Christ together.

    1. Hi De,
      Yes, it’s definitely easier to receive correction – or feel judged – by someone we know loves us and who has previously shown us grace!

  9. So important to pause and let the Holy Spirit direct us. This is a habit that has taken me a long time to do. Still not perfect but God has clamped my mouth shut (something told me to not say something) many times when I pause and silently ask Him to direct my words. 😉

    Blessings,
    The How-to Guru (shan walker)

    1. Yes Shan, I’ve had to learn that the hard way :).

      Now, what I’ve often done is sat on e-mails for a day before sending them, and/or asked one (or two) of the other elders to read them first. Most of the time I’m glad I didn’t speak and/or write when I first wanted to do so!

  10. Sometimes we judge out of ignorance and inexperience. Through time and maturity we learn of our past transgressions of judgement and wholeheartedly repent, and try to guide our children from making the same judgements.

    1. Well said Mary.

      When we’re young we generally see only black-and-white. As we get older we recognize some things are grey; there are liberties regarding how the Christian life is loved out.

      Interestingly this week I’m studying Luke 7:31-35 and it looks to the differences between Jesus and John the Baptist. Very different men, but both wonderful.

  11. Ouch! What a great reminder. Just yesterday I was upset about a coworker gossiping to me about something and I went to another coworker to gossip about the gossiping. Thanks for getting me together with this reminder.

    1. Oh wow Tiffani. What a fitting example of the post.

      That was humble for you to share. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *