Sermon Title: How to Live in Understanding and Love with Other People
Biblical Text: Matthew 7:1-6 (Luke 6:37-42)
Date: Sunday, March 31, 2019
Speaker: Dr. Joseph
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
In this passage, Jesus establishes a basic and fundamental Kingdom principle: do not judge and condemn the people belonging to the kingdom. The underlying idea of this passage is that followers of Jesus Christ, who are also kingdom people and live by the ethical and moral virtues of the Kingdom of God, are not the “King” of the Kingdom, but (fellow) servants of Christ the King. God (in Christ) the King is the only and final judge of his kingdom and his people. Instead of judging or condemning the people of the Kingdom, let the people of the kingdom help one another to pursue the presence of the King and embody the virtuous life and character of the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus teaches his disciples about the danger about the self-righteous spirit and judgmental attitude, which they must at all cost avoid in their interaction with one another and other people
Common Interpretations of Matthew 7:1-6
- “This passage has erroneously been used to suggest that believers should never evaluate or criticize anyone for anything” (John McArthur, Gospel of Matthew, p. 430). MacArthur writes, “Our day hates absolutes, especially theological and moral absolutes, and such simplistic interpretation provides a convenient escape from confrontation. Members of modern society, including many professing Christians, tend to resist dogmatism and strong convictions about right and wrong” (ibid).
What this passage does not mean?
- According to the Russian novelist Tolstoy, here Jesus does not seek to abolish law courts (or courts of law) and forbids criticism.
- Christians can pronounce “that is good” and “that is wrong” but not “you are condemned by God.” Jesus’s divinely given ethics shape a society “for reconciliation instead of damnation” (McKnight; Pennington, Sermon on the Mount, p. 258).
- “Jesus warns us to not assume God’s prerogative to condemn the guilty; he is not warning us to discern truth from error (see 7;15-23)” (Keener, Commentary on Matthew, 157).
- “Further, Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but only offering correction in the wrong spirit (v.5; compare 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1-5)” (Keener, Commentary on Matthew, 157)
What does the word “judge” mean in this passage”?
- The English verb “judge” in this passage is a translation of the Greek word “krino,” which denotes the action to evaluate, analyze, condemn, or avenge. According to Leon Morris (Commentary on Matthew), “the verb is used not only generally of passing a verdict, but specifically of passing an adverse (hostile, adversary, opposing) verdict, condemning, and it is this that Jesus is forbidding” (p. 165).
- T. France notes that “the verb Krino is used for technical legal decisions, but also more generally for forming judgments and reaching conclusions about both things and people” (The Gospel of Matthew, p. 274).
- Morris also remarks, “The habit is easy to form. But it is to be avoided, and Jesus points to the disastrous consequences that follow… What matters is the judgment of God; Jesus’ words surely refer to the divine tribunal. To be quick to call others to account is to invite God to call us to account” (ibid).
- In 1 Cor 5:5, Paul uses the word Krino and command the Christians at the church of Corinth to evaluate or analyze one’s conduct. Judgement for the sake of redemption is required in the church in case of a moral sin that is destructive to the individual and the life of the church.
“Hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”
1 John 4:1, Apostle John presents it as a Christian action: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” He encourages right spiritual discernment and judgment (against false teachings and false teachers). False teaching could be detrimental to the spiritual life of the church and believers if it is not corrected, dealt with immediately—with rigor, attention, and care.
***When a Christian evaluates another fellow brother or sister, the objective is to restore that person to spiritual godliness; we should always aim to be constructive not retributive in our analysis and assessment of other Christians and people. That the attitude of the kingdom people.
Avenge and condemn as applied to Yahweh:
- Psalm 18:47, “He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me.”
- Leviticus 26:25, “And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands.”
- Ecclesiastes 12:14, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
- Psalm 75:7, “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.”
- Psalm 50:6, “And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is judge.”
- James 4:12, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”
- Leviticus 19:18, “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
Exegetical Analysis: Matthew 7:1-5
In this passage of Matthew 7:1-5, krino is used as a verb three times (vv. 1, 2, 3) and a noun once (judgment: v. 2)
- First usage as an imperative: “judge not!” (v.1)
- The reason for the command: “that you may not be judged” (v.2)
- In the following case, it is used both as a verb and noun to serve as a warning: “For the judgment you pronounce will be judged” (v.2)
Two examples of false judgment in this passage:
- Verse 3 and verse 4= the metaphor of the speck and the log.
Proper steps pertaining to the right to judge:
- First step: remove the log out of your own eye
- Result: you will see clearly
- Third: then you will be able to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.
***Elsewhere in Matthew 18:15-20, Matthew presents the steps how to deal with sin in the church, what we might call, “fraternal correction.” This is consistent with Lev. 19:17 and Matthew 18:23-25, where we are commanded to extend unlimited forgiveness to those who have wronged us, and to reproof those we love in the faith for the sake of their spiritual growth and progress in Christ. In Matthew 6:2, 5, and 16, Jesus once again provides important examples on how not to criticize other people; he warns us not to be like the pharisees and the scribes who defy the Kingdom of God by their self-righteous character.
Five Lessons from Jesus on Judging and Life in the Kingdom
What does the Lord want us to learn about this passage? What spiritual practice he wants to develop in us?
- Jesus wants us his followers to be a community that develops proper spiritual discernment and wants us all to strive toward full spiritual maturity, in respect to how we relate to other Christians and serve God through people (vv. 1-2). It takes spiritual discernment and maturity not to judge people and condemn those who do not measure up to our lifestyle and moral standards.
- Jesus’s desire for the people belonging to the Kingdom of God is to cultivate healthy and compassionate (interpersonal) Christian relations with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who are weak in the faith (vv.3-4). We need to be more understanding and empathetic toward those who do not have the love of God in their heart and the light of Christ in their soul.
- Jesus’s goal for his followers is to practice self-discipline, self-criticism, self-examination, and personal spiritual growth toward all things godly and human fulfilling (vv.4-5).
- Jesus wants us to practice verbal or oral restraints, but above all he wants us to “guard our heart” (Proverbs 4:23-27) and to set proper and godly “inner boundaries.”
- Jesus wants us his followers to know that judging and condemning people defy the life and principles of the kingdom of God; he establishes that the life of the kingdom of God is that which his followers pursue together as a collective aim and it also consists of (a) in uplifting others, (b) encouraging them, (c) mentoring them, and (d) in pushing them toward the way of righteousness and holiness.
Three key verses: Jesus instructing his disciples and warning the pharisees and the scribes about their judgmental spirit
- John 7:24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
- John 8:15, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.”
- Luke 16:15, “He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”
Five Examples about the danger of judging others:
- Warning about a self-righteous judgement: Luke 18:11-14
- Warning to avoid external evaluation of individuals: John 8:1-8
- Warning about slandering another person: James 4:11-12
- Warning on acting as God the Judge toward other people: Romans 2:1-3
- Warning to avoid offering correction in the wrong spirit: Galatians 6:1-6
- Luke 18:11-14, ‘11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
- Luke 6:37-42, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. 41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
- John 8:1-8, “1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.”
- W. Manson make this important observation worth noting here:
The whole business of judging persons is in God’s hands, for He alone knows the secrets of men’s hearts. The does not mean that we are not to use all the moral insight we possess in order to discover what is right and wrong; but that we are to confine ourselves to that field and refrain from passing judgment on persons. For our judgment is itself a factor in shaping their lives, and a harsh judgment may help a fellow-creature on the road to perdition (Qtd in Allison, Sermon on the Mount, p. 153)
- James 4:11-12, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
- Romans 2:1-3, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?”
John Stott’s comment on this passage is enlightened: “The simple but vital point which Paul is making in these verses is that man is not God. No human being is qualified to be the judge of his fellow humans, for we cannot reach each other’s hearts or assess each other’s motives. To be censorious is to presume arrogantly to anticipate the day of judgment, to usurp the prerogative of the divine judge, in fact to try to play God (Sermon on the Mount, p. 177).
- Galatians 6:1-6, “1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.”
This is a call to Christian responsibility and accountability. We are our brother and sister’s keeper. We are called to restore another fellow Christian who fall in sin.
*** “Even if we knew people’s hearts, we could not evaluate degrees of personal guilt as if we understood all the genetic and social influences that combine with personal sinful choices in making some people more vulnerable to particular temptations (such as alcohol or spouse abuse) than others. Most important, Jesus warns us that even if we knew people’s hearts, we would be in no position to judge unless we had lived sinless lives, never needing God’s forgiveness (Vv. 3-5; compare 6:12, 14-15)” (Keener, Commentary on Matthew, p. 157)
John R. W. Stott insightful writes:
The follower of Jesus is still a “critic” in the sense of using his powers of discernment, but not a “judge” in the sense of being censorious. Censoriousness is a compound sin consisting of several unpleasant ingredients. It does not mean to assess people critically, but to judge them harshly. The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people and enjoys actively seeking out their failings. He puts the worst possible construction on their motives, pours cold water on their schemes and is ungenerous towards their mistakes” (Sermon on the Mount, p. 176).
Three ways to treat others Christianly:
- Treat everyone with love: Luke 6:31-36
- Accept one another: Romans 14:1-13
- Seek Peace: Romans 12:16-18
- Luke 6:31-36, “Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
- Romans 14:1-13, “1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. 5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
- Romans 12:16-18, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”