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Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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? 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? 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. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces
Quicksand Logic and Scripture Abuse
In this age where moral relativism is rivaled only by the days of Noah and by the climate in which the first-century church was moving in the culture of that period, perhaps no scripture is more abused than this passage. I have heard it said numerous times “you know, we should never judge.” Really? How does anyone come up with such a statement as this? Ask the person for the foundation upon which such logic is based, and I am fairly certain they will say, “It’s in the Bible somewhere. Jesus even said so.” If you ask them where it is in the Bible, they may point to this very scripture—well…only part of this scripture. After all, they are more concerned about making a point than considering the context of what was really said. They will usually only quote Matthew 7:1 and then begin to moralize.
Keep in mind that people who say “never judge” are generally the same people who proclaim that there are no absolutes. You might even hear a person say that “everything is relative.” Yet, it seems very clear to me that to never do something is in itself a verbalized absolute. Saying that everything is relative is also a judgment call and an absolute. It also seems to me that the same people will put others down for saying “should have,” “would have,” “could have,” and “ought to.” Yes, they will be the first to condemn me or anyone else for saying that we should or should not do something. They call these sentiments “being judgmental.” Aren’t these people being judgmental by saying that people should never judge? Saying that we should never judge is—in and of itself—a judgment call; therefore, they violate their own value system by preaching against making judgments. Clearly this is quicksand logic and an abuse of scripture.
Everyone reading this book makes judgment calls just about every day. One example of that could be as simple as driving in a car. If you, the reader, wanted to take a road trip, you might have to stay in a hotel. How do you determine which hotel you are going to stay in? The decision you make could include all kinds of judgments. First, you would make your judgments on the basis of other reviews. What kind of experience did you have with the person at the front desk and the person who made the reservation? What about housekeeping? How did they keep your room? You might decide not use that same hotel, or you might decide to stay on the basis of your evaluations.
Another example of a necessary judgment call is the hiring process. The one doing the hiring, after examining resumes and conducting interviews, will have to determine which applicant to hire on the basis of the information. The supervisor will evaluate the people applying for the job according to their job experience, how they are groomed, and how they behave. Do you see how irrational it is to say we should never judge?
Then there is another practical area of consideration. I hate to purchase cars, and when I have to look for a new vehicle, I not only evaluate the car—on the basis of what I am looking for—I also judge the dealership and the salespeople. If the dealership pressures me a lot (the hard sale), I will judge them negatively. If they give me my space, they may just sell me a car. I suspect many people make judgments like I do in such matters; therefore, it is highly irrational to say we should never judge. Jesus would never be so irrational.
Finally, in the sixth verse of this passage, Jesus Himself advises the disciples to not “give dogs what is sacred. Do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” This is a glaring example where Jesus instructs the disciples to make a judgment call. He says to judge certain kinds of people regarding how they will handle the sacred and holy. Some people just can’t—or won’t—handle the truth, and it seems that there are times when we must make a judgment call as to whether or not we should share the truth with certain people.
Context … Context … Context
Pulling a conversation out of its context, especially the teachings of Jesus, can make all the difference in the world. I can, for example, tell you to go kill yourself and do it quickly by quoting Jesus out of context. In one place in the Bible, it says, “And Judas went and hanged himself.” In another place Jesus said to Judas, “What you do, be sure to do it quickly.” In two simple sentences, I could tell you that Jesus gives us authority to kill ourselves quickly, but that would be pure foolishness. You can readily see that it only takes a couple of sentences to illustrate how we can make out that the Bible says something it does not say. This is especially true if we are not honest about the context surrounding the scripture we cite. Quicksand moral-relativistic statements that skew the meaning of what Jesus actually said allow us to draw such insane conclusions. These conclusions will render us victims to the storms and challenges of life both now and in eternity.
So what is Jesus saying in the verses at the beginning of this chapter? Well, let us look at the passage in its entirety. First, it is very true that Jesus is teaching us to be cautious when we make judgments. When the eternal judge evaluates our own judgment, He makes it clear that how we judge others needs to be based on how we want to be judged. He makes it clear that, with the same judgment we are judging, we are telling Him precisely how we want to be judged. It is sort of like the Golden Rule we discussed earlier. In essence, He is telling us to judge other people in the same way we want to be judged. Be fair in your judgment of others.
Jesus goes on to make it perfectly clear that a person with a plank in his or her own eye is really out of line when making a big deal about a speck in another person’s eye. He calls this kind of judging being hypocritical. I might add that it’s dangerous. A person who is being fair would look at his or her own frailties while making an evaluation. Then that assessment could be the guide for being fair to others as we make a judgment. To continue condemning others, while we are doing much worse, puts us in a place that is like quicksand—especially on the day when we face the eternal judge of the universe.
I realize that we live in a culture that is greatly influenced by secularists. I realize that the philosophy of the secularists is that we are our own little gods. Secularists don’t like talking about right, wrong, good, or evil (except when they make their daily politically correct judgment calls). Indeed, I am fairly certain that calling things good or evil—to the secular way of thinking—seems uninformed, archaic, and not a twenty-first-century concept. I believe that the secularists sincerely believe their utterances about moral relativism and political correctness. I am convinced they are sincerely wrong.
Judgment Calls and Human Sexuality
One of the areas where Christ followers get into conflict with such people as these is in the area of human sexuality. God’s law clearly spells out what is sin (or law breaking) and what is not. The Bible teaches, for example, adultery—or sex with another person in violation of the marriage covenant—is offensive to God, and it is wrong. It also teaches that fornication—premarital or nonmarital sex—called cohabitation today—is wrong. The big fight, however, comes when we start talking about the sin of homosexuality. There is no question that the Holy Scriptures also teach that this is sin. The Bible does not teach that being gay is a civil right. It teaches that it is a sinful lifestyle that God will judge.
Why does God judge these things to be sinful or wrong? God did not make these laws to ruin everyone’s fun. He made them to give order to society and to keep people healthy, wholesome, and whole. Adultery wrecks homes. Cohabitation does not make for a longer marriage once people get married. Indeed, google the research yourself. You will find a much higher divorce rate among those who cohabitate and then get married than the average divorce rate. AIDS would be obliterated from the earth if people did not violate God’s will regarding sexuality. The epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases would begin to diminish rapidly if only people would live by God’s moral code. God’s judgment is based on what is best for holy and healthy life and living. This is true of all the judgment calls that God gives us.
Making fair judgment calls—on the basis of God’s eternal judgment—is appropriate and a durable foundation upon which to base our lives; however, people get in the quicksand when setting aside God’s law. The irresistible storms arise when a conscious judgment call is made that people should never judge, and they live accordingly. If people do so, they are on the quicksand foundation of worshipping the creature more than the Creator. They lose their footing as they base their choices on what they themselves want to believe rather than on the time-tested values of a loving Almighty God. The lightning flashes and the thunder clashes, and they crash and burn! Why? Because they do not have a solid foundation. Eventually, as a result of their poor judgment, they reap what they sow in ways they wish they could have avoided.
SHOULDA, WOULDA, COULDA, OUGHTA
Earlier we talked about the use of these words. I would like to revisit this topic just briefly. It is true that some use “should, would, could, and ought” in ways that are inappropriate and dysfunctional. The values that these words espouse, many times, are based on the broken values of people whose lives are broken. An example of this is the statement “you should not cry” (or feel a certain way). Another example is related to when a person is processing grief. Someone might say, “You ought to suck it up! You ought to just deal with it!” Other destructive examples include “You ought to be stronger than that” or “You shouldn’t be so weak!” None of these shoulds, woulds, or oughts are healthy or holy.
However, this does not mean that there are not times that it would be appropriate to say something should (or should not) be a certain way. There are absolutely absolutes. There are positively, necessarily no-no’s. For every action there is a reaction. For every act there is a consequence. God’s “thou shalt nots” have governed our nation throughout its history. And they have governed Western civilization for thousands of years. When we abandon—or habitually violate—God’s liberating limits, the foundation of our lives, and our culture, will most assuredly be cracked wide open. Tragedy, storms, and trouble will come and go. Our ability to truly live is based on how solidly we are planted on the truth that sets us free.
I can very easily say, “You should not lie.” I am clearly making a judgment call regarding right and wrong. I am basing my judgment on the ancient wisdom of the Holy Scriptures. Yet even without the basis of the Bible, if a person were a habitual liar, most people would recognize the pattern as wrong—that it is a sickness. If a person continues to lie, he or she will eventually cause significant damage— both to the individual and to those to whom the lies are told. We even have a psychological term for people who lie a great deal. We call them “pathological liars.” So I think it is very appropriate to say that individuals should not lie. While I think that no one is perfect at truth telling, I also believe that making a statement against lying is a very healthy thing. In fact, I would say this unapologetically, and I would work with a person in overcoming the evil or sickness of pathological lying that has enslaved him or her. Helping such a person to turn to Christ—so that the sin of lying can be forgiven—and having Christ transform the person’s life from lying to truth telling would very easily be called “good.”
By the way, in this instance, I would also be judging in the same way I would want to be judged, and that is rock solid judgment. I believe that my precious God and loving Savior would completely support me in judging pathological lying as wrong; however, if I were to judge someone by this standard regarding continual lying, and I did not hold myself to that same standard, I would be standing on judgmental quicksand. My precious God and loving Savior would have nothing to do with this kind of judgment. He would frown on it, because it would represent a hypocritical way of judging others and would demonstrate a lack of self-evaluation.