In Mathew, Jesus teaches the people by telling them, “Do not judge others…” and I think most contemporary uses of this passage tend to stop quoting at this point. Surrounded by the Pharisees and Sadducees, everyone trying to get back to the righteousness of God, it just makes sense to warn potential followers about their judgments. But the passage is more than the first four words, it goes on. Let me remind you of the full passage (quoted from the NLT):
7:1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
6 “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
While I agree that this is a warning about how we treat other people by imposing our own biases and prejudices on them, I think we need to be careful if we think that Jesus is teaching us against discernment and against practicing a process that separates what is righteous living from the type of life that would be considered evil or wrong by Jesus.
The insight comes in verse 6, because how are we uncover “people who are unholy” if we are not to “judge” them. Now, let’s be clear that the contemporary use of “judge” often is expanded to mean that we are not supposed to critique, correct, or discipline another person. Yet, I think Jesus is talking about judgment that dismisses a person and loses belief in a person. Judgments are often final assessments, and that is what Jesus is warning against. How can a person help remove an eye irritant from their friend when their eye is impelled by a debilitating object?
It seems they might need each other’s help to truly resolve the issue. Yes, community and fellowship are needed, but judgment expels a person from community and fellowship. So we are warned not to judge, but encouraged to discern. While we refrain from making final assessments, we are free to help each other develop a holy and healthy life of faith.
I have been fortunate to have good people in my life who did not cast me aside when I failed to live a holy and righteous life, but I was blessed by them because they also were not afraid to confront my offenses and deal with the unholy parts of my life. I believe the true difference in Jesus’ teaching is whether or not we choose to walk through the mess with a person or not. Jesus walked into, through, and redeemed our mess. He didn’t stand aloof and condemn us, but showed us the way. As we remove the logs and specks from each others’ eyes, we can clearly see the way so that others can was in the way. Interestingly enough, the next passage after this one reminds us of the “Golden Rule” and then points us to the narrow way!
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.