Seeing The Judge Clearly
by Pete Hatton
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you."
Jesus has just finished His teaching in Matthew 6 on what it means to have God as a gracious Father, and now in chapter 7, He is moving to teach about God as Judge. For a lot of people, seeing God as both Father and Judge sounds contradictory. We tend to think that He is either one or the other, but not both. But our text tells us He is both. For non-Christians, this can be a terrifying thought, because they reject God’s Fatherly grace and will encounter Him only as Judge. But for Christians, doesn’t having God as a gracious Father inform how we view Him as Judge? Our text is meant to show us that when we see God as Judge, it should cause us to deal with our own sinful hearts before being critical of other’s sin.
Do you live according to your own standards? Have you ever broken the standards that you put on others? Why are we more critical of others than we are of ourselves? Could it be that we are all trying to escape judgment, so we feel better about ourselves when we see others falling short? Why are we so quick to point out the faults of others, instead of clearly seeing our own faults?
What Jesus is teaching in Matthew 7:1-6 is very misunderstood and usually misquoted. We tend to think that Jesus is commanding us not to make any judgments of people when He says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). But Jesus is not forbidding all judgments; He is forbidding hypocritical condemnation of others, without first assessing your own sin. We are not to judge others, because God is the Judge, and God will judge our lives on how we live our lives, and our hearts attitude and actions towards others – “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2) Because God will judge YOU, Jesus warns, “Don’t judge others.”
Jesus further explains what He means with a vivid illustration in verses 3-4, basically saying, “Do you see that man with a huge plank in his eye, going up to that man with a speck of sawdust in his eye – what is that man trying to do? How ridiculous is it to try to take a speck out of somebody else’s eye when you have a huge log in your own eye? Deal with the greatness of your sin before you try to point out other people’s sin. The sin in your life towards God is far greater than any sin you see in somebody else’s life, and the fact that you’re pointing out the speck of sin in others is proof that you have a plank in your own eye.”
Jesus is pointing out our hypocrisy when we judge others, without clearly seeing how great our own sin before God is. Our sin is so great and deceptive, that we can be blind to it, so we act like we are better than we really are to hide from others and from God, which is the true nature of our sin and guilt. So, we point out the sin of others in order to feel better about ourselves. But why are we trying to feel better about ourselves? Because we know we are guilty before the Judge! We know we don’t measure up to God’s standards, and we fear facing God’s judgment. But Christian, shouldn’t knowing God as Father inform how we view Him as Judge? Because what kind of Father is He?
He is a gracious Father who steps off the judgment seat to be judged in your place! The Father sends His Son to the “pigs and the dogs,” who think they are better than Him, and they trample the Holy One under their feet. Jesus stood before hypocrites to become all of our hypocrisy and sin. Jesus took all of the judgment for all of our sin and was crushed for it, so we would not be.
Friends, when you see Jesus was judged for you, that on the cross He received all of the punishment for what your sin deserves, so that His Father could pardon and forgive you - shouldn’t this make you see not just how great your sin is, but how loving your heavenly Father is towards sinners? If God the Judge treats you this way, shouldn’t it lead you to be more compassionate towards others in their sin, rather than being critical of others? Shouldn’t the mercy, grace, and forgiveness that we received from God, cause us to be more merciful, gracious, and forgiving of others? Do not judge others, but instead, see more clearly how The Judge was judged for you, and then you can truly help others in their sin.