Worship Times

Sundays    10:30 a.m.
                    4:00 p.m.

Today's Verse

NEEDING AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST

By Mark Grant

One night during a thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her young son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me all night?” The mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t, Dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” After a brief pause, the boy replied, “The big sissy!” Let’s look beyond the humor of this story for a moment and think about the child’s reaction. His fearful plea was understandable, yet his response was very human. Most of us can easily see the faults of others but fiercely resist admitting the truth about ourselves.

This was exactly what Jesus talks about in Matthew the seventh chapter. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And 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” (Matt. 7:1-5).

These verses have really been misunderstood and often abused by those who resent being corrected for their sinful living. The word “judge” has a broad application and can mean  “to judge, to give a verdict, to form an opinion, distinguish between, evaluate, to condemn.”  Most scholars agree that the word used in our text means, “to condemn.” The best way to understand the meaning of a scripture is to look at its parallel. Luke says, Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Thayer explains, “judge” to mean, “of those who judge severely (unfairly), finding fault with this or that in others, Mt. vii. 1; Lk. vi. 37; Ro. ii. 1.” What is sad, but very true, is that there are Christian’s today who tend to be very critical, and are often condemning and love to find fault with others. Has a brother ever judged you before they’ve gotten all the facts? Have brethren ever jumped to conclusions without even giving you the courtesy to listen to both sides of a story. Solomon wrote, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). Solomon teaches a basic principle for making a sound decision is the importance of hearing all the facts before we give our opinion on a matter, or you could bring folly and shame upon yourself. Solomon also said, “The first to plead his case seems just, Until another comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17; NASV). The second thing Solomon teaches about making sound decisions is that no matter how reasonable one side of an argument may sound, the impression is usually a bit different when the other side is heard. Asking a few questions is always good advice in the process before we form our opinions. Before you judge any situation, be careful that you’ve got all the facts and have heard both sides of an argument.    

All of us as Christians have the right to make moral and spiritual judgments. Jesus taught us to expose false prophets (Matt. 7:15-23). Paul taught that the church must discipline flagrant sin among its members (1 Cor. 5:1-12). Christians are to settle their own personal disputes rather than going to secular courts (1 Cor. 6:1-6). Christian leaders are to mature and recognize the difference between right and wrong and do what is right (Heb. 5:12-14). It is conclusive then, that “judge” in this verse is not a prohibition against deciding between right and wrong but is used in the sense of a harsh, overcritical, condemnatory judgment. The Greek word for “judge” is “krino which has the same force in Romans 2:1; 14:10-13, and James 4:11-12, indicating that the type of judging forbidden in this verse is that of presuming to determine salvation, or telling others “you’re going to hell.” Christ did not even do this while he was on the earth. Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47). The exercise of such judgment is all the more sinful in that it is premature. Paul said, “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes” (1 Cor. 4:5). Regrettably, some still insist on their right to determine salvation in others that does nothing more than usurp the role of God. Jesus said, “But I will show you whom you should fear; Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5). James said, “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”  (James 4:12). There is only One who has power to cast and condemn someone into hell and those whose flagrant violations of “judge not, that you be not judged” have wrought considerable damage to the church.

To further understand Matthew 7:1 you also need to take it in the context of the surrounding verses. “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt. 7:2). Again, Jesus is not forbidding Christians from forming opinions as to what is right and wrong. Jesus himself taught, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John7: 24). Jesus does admonish Christians not to condemn with severity or hasty judgments that are based on jealousy, suspicion, envy, or hate. One should judge another, as he would wish to be judged if he is going to follow the Golden Rule. If our attitude is mixed with pride and self-righteousness, our words will come back to haunt us when we stand before God. What we say may be true, but the way we say it must always be with humility and a sense of our own shortcomings. “There is one who speaks like the piercing of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Prov. 12:18). All of us as Christians need to realize that we will be judged or condemned with the same degree of severity, both by man and more importantly God, that we pass on others. Our own standard of judging others will be applied to us. Our judging others is not to be driven by our own insecurity and pride, but rather by the same compassion and mercy God shows toward us. James wrote, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Jesus tells how the unforgiving servant himself was judged with the same severity as he had judged others, and ends: “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matt. 18:35). Christians are to encourage one another to stir up loving attitudes and actions (Heb. 10:24,25). But we are all growing in Christ, so we must never judge each other in a proud or haughty way. Instead, we should lovingly build up one another. Any other attitude reveals a self-righteous heart.

The final point that Jesus makes about judging is the need for self-examination. Jesus said, “And 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 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” (Matt. 7:3-5). Jesus is teaching the importance of judging ourselves before we judge others. The speck and the plank represent the difference between that, which is tiny and almost invisible, compared to that which is obvious and blatant. The meaning is, that we are swift and sharp to judge the small offences in others, but refuse to consider the offences in ourselves. Instead of being quick to point out the sins of others, we need to judge our own sins--the “planks” in our own lives first. When we remove the “plank” from our own eye we will be able to see clearly and then we can advance to correct the faults of others. It’s a painful process. Yes, it may even hurt. But it will make us much more patient and sensitive toward others who have the same problem overcoming sin as ourselves. Jesus is teaching us that the best way to judge the imperfections of others is to be free from greater ones ourselves. Then there will be no hypocrisy in our conduct. To judge any other way, we may find ourselves needing an ophthalmologist.