Saturday, August 27, 2016

Judging Others

Jesus:  1Do not judge (criticize, condemn) others, and you will not be judged (criticized, condemned). 2 For you will be treated (judged) as you treat (judge) 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 cannot see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log (sin) in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

6 Do not waste what is holy (sacred matters) on people who are unholy. Do not throw your pearls to pigs (swine)! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

7 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

12 Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence (sums up) of all that is taught in the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:1-12 (NLT)

Possibly, Matthew 7:1 is the most quoted verse of the Bible:  “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, RSV). Many other Scripture passages also speak against hypocritically judging and condemning others (see e.g., Luke 6:37-38, 41-42; Romans 2:1; Romans 14:4, 10-13; 1 Corinthians 4:5; James 4:11-12). Yet, many people quote such sacred Scripture passages as Matthew 7:1 to support their sinful lifestyles and personal freedoms.

However, Matthew 7 does not forbid judging others. The Holy Scriptures also taught that when one sins against God and God’s Word, faithful believers in Christ should seek to gently and firmly restore the erring brother or sister to God’s righteous path (Matthew 18:15-20; see also Galatians 6:1-5). What Jesus rebukes is hypocritical and inappropriate judging of others that views oneself as better than others do (Matthew 7:1-5; see also Galatians 6:1-5). Jesus’ teaching condemns judging hypocritically or self-righteously. In other words, Jesus denounces judgmental actions when we judge and criticize others weaknesses and sins while ignoring the greater sin and wickedness in ourselves (Matthew 7:3-5; see also Romans 2:3).

Jesus wants everyone to FIRST self-examine their personal lives and lifestyles for sinfulness before judging others (see Matthew 7:2-5). Matthew 7:1-5 teaches that we must not judge or condemn others of their sinful actions while ignoring our personal sinful and wickedness (Matthew 7:3-5; see also John 7:24; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 3:12). Such actions are hypocritical and self-righteous. The first principle of judgment is that we begin with self-judgment of any and all lifestyles choices that dishonor God, such as pride, corruption, jealousy, gossip, dishonesty, murder, strife, trickery, and hatred (see e.g., Romans 1:18-32). Prayerful self-examination is essential in the Christian life.

God wants everyone to abstain from sin and sinful desires (see e.g., Ephesians 5:3-7). If we have sinned in our lives, and we try to judge others, we are hypocrites! The Pharisees were guilty of hypocritical behavior as they judged and criticized others’ sins to make ourselves look good. The Pharisees did not acknowledge their sins. Jesus denounced such self-righteous action (see e.g., Luke 18:9-14). Believers in Christ should judge themselves first so that they can help others. If believers do not honestly confess and acknowledge their personal sins, then God will also judge them. God is the final Judge of all (James 4:11-12) for only God can see our hearts (see e.g., 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9)!

Jesus wants people to lovely, patiently, and humbly care for others, including keeping others from the destruction of sin and wickedness (see also James 5:20). God has graciously given believers in Jesus “holy things” of the Lord, and we must handle God’s Word with care (2 Corinthians 4:7). Love for others means humbly correcting others and not ignoring the sins of others. Thus, Matthew 7:1 and Matthew 18:15-20 taught together means that faithful believers in Christ could make moral judgments about the lives of others. Jesus knows that God wants clean hands and pure heart from everyone (see Psalm 24:4). One day, the true and living God will judge the world, and we will reap what we have sown (Galatians 6:7-8). Everyone will stand before the judgment seat of God and must give an accounting of their lives to God and His Son, Jesus (Romans 14:4, 10-13; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Thus, Jesus wants believers are to be merciful, forgiving, and slow to judge (Matthew 7:1-5). Yet, believers are also to be wise and discern those who continually reject the gracious and loving nature of God and God’s Word, so they can move on to others in need of God’s correcting grace and forgiveness (Matthew 7:6; see also Proverbs 9:7-10; Proverbs 23:9; Matthew 10:14).

Finally, Jesus knows that God’s people cannot “do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” without persistently seeking our Heavenly Father’s gracious help and guidance (Matthew 7:7-8). Only God can judge perfectly. Therefore, we must pray and seek His wisdom and direction (James 1:5). Our good God gives good gifts to all who persistently ask and seek Him (Matthew 7:9-11).

In summary, Jesus closes this section with the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule summarizes the Law and Prophets, taken together the Old Testament. According to Jesus, the entire Old Testament can be summarized in a nutshell:  So whatever you wish that others would do to you, also do to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, ESV). This summary statement is another way of saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (see also Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:43-46; Matthew 22:39; Romans 12:17-19). The person who practices the Golden Rule refuses to harm others but to help and encourage others in the holy Word of God. If we want God’s best for ourselves, we must “do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12, NLT).

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Ross, Mark E. Let’s Study Matthew (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

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