In my last post, I discussed Jesus’ words about passing judgment on others from Matthew 7:1-6. I concluded my belief that Jesus was neither condemning nor encouraging judgment on others but cautiously reminding us that we will not only be judged by the same measurement we pass judgment with but also that we have too many logs in our eyes to spend our time judging others. Therefore, as I also said, it is better to maintain a posture of humility rather than being quick to pass judgment.
I mean that too. Though on occasion circumstances may force us to pass a measure of judgment, we ought to be cautious because we too are going to face judgment from God one day. Here is where I think Jesus has more to say and for that we need to hear what Jesus says in the 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. 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.” He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. 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, ‘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.”
Here again it seems that Jesus is using a bit of hyperbole along with some very needed wisdom. If we don’t want to be judged and condemned ourselves then as a general rule, we shouldn’t judge and condemn ourselves. Rather, we should forgive others and give to others as we ourselves would like to receive. Jesus then, who is our teacher, reminds us that we are not above our teacher and that we must become like our teacher (who offers forgiveness, mercy, and generosity than judgment). And if we still do not heed such caution, we are reminded that too often the passing of judgment is nothing more than an exercise in being a hypocrite since our own eyes our jammed up with a log.
Why is this caution so important to heed? Well, it’s not because we can never make a right judgment against someone because we can, just as the apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian church to do so (cf. 1 Cor 5). It seems that Jesus is more concerned with judgment being rendered by a hypocrite.
Here’s what I mean. A few years back a rather well known evangelical megachurch Pastor became well known for his condescending judgments on homosexual behavior and the GLBT community. Then came the scandal in which the public learned that this Pastor was involved in a homosexual affair himself. Now to my knowledge this Pastor has acknowledged his sinful behavior and is forgiven by God (and has also reconciled with his wife and children), so I’m not writing this to condemn this Pastor. I mention this because of the credibility damage his hypocricy did and I believe this is what Jesus is trying to prevent.
We are better off having said nothing at all than having said a word of judgment only to be exposed as a hypocrite. So while on occasion circumstances may force us to pass a certain measure of judgment, we out to be very cautious in doing so. And if I must error on one side or the other, I would rather error on the side of being too quick to forgive, show mercy, and offer generosity than being too quick to judgment.