The Danger of Judging Others
Jesus begins chapter 7 with a warning about the danger of judging others. “Judge not,” he says, “that you be not judged. With the same judgment you pronounce on others, you will be judged, and the same measure that you use on others will be used for you.”
He then goes on to talk about the attempt to take out the sawdust in other people’s eyes, without realizing that there is a log in our own eye!
Do Not Be Judgmental
Jesus’ warning here is not that his followers should become moral zombies. His warning is that we should not be judgmental. In other words, we should not be self-righteous. When we make judgments, we should be careful that we do not have similar or bigger weaknesses (we usually do); we should also be aware that we will also be judged, both by others and by God.
Our Moral Condition
Thus, we should be aware of and first address our own moral conditions: there are often moral logs and obstacles in our own lives that not only make it impossible for us to see clearly and discriminate between right and wrong accurately but also make it difficult for others to accept our corrections and exhortations.
Without addressing our own faults, if we attempt to correct other people by attacking their faults and weaknesses, they will, in turn, attack us. Jesus says that such a thing is like throwing pearls to pigs. Pigs will not see the value of what is being offered; they will not accept what is being offered. They will themselves, before long, attack you.
Jesus’ command, “Judge not,” is also very commonly misunderstood and misused. It is commonly quoted against Christians when they hold and express that a certain ethical position being espoused or behaviour being practised is wrong.
It must be remembered, both by Christians and others, that when Christians hold and express a certain ethical or moral position, that position is not a position that they independently and autonomously come to hold and express.
Testifying to God’s Judgment
So, when a Christian says that a certain moral practice or behaviour – whether of others or of themselves – is wrong, it is not the Christian who is passing the judgment. The Christian is merely witnessing and testifying to the judgment of God that it is wrong.
A Christian ethical position is thus a “confession” in the true sense of the word confession – a “homologeo” (Gk.), which literally means “to say the same thing,” “to agree,” “to admit,” and “to repeat” the judgement of God.
“Judge not,” Jesus said. And Jesus is, again, right. It is God alone who judges. Christians are not called to be judges, but to be witnesses and “confessors” of the judgment of God.
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