To Judge or Not to Judge

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

I am sharing these verses to show you that the heart of man is evil to its core. Every one of our thoughts is on evil all the time because our focus is not God, but self. If we being evil can take good things and destroy them, then we can take the word of God and mutilate its meaning. My case in point today, Matthew 7:1-6.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1. This verse is one of the most taken out of context verses in all of scripture by unbelievers and believers alike. You cannot cherry pick one verse and make overarching statements that conflict with the context of which it was written. Many times we will hear someone say to us, “The Bible says, ‘Do not judge’”. To which those of us who understand the error in this statement will reply, “You just made a judgment against our judging, thereby contradicting your argument and statement.” It violates the law of non-contradiction which states that something cannot be both true and false at the same time. You cannot tell a person not to judge someone when that very statement is a judgment. This passage is not talking about condemning judgment, rather, Christ is condemning a certain type of judgment that we in our depravity often make. He is talking about self-righteous hypocritical judgment.

“Judge” in the Greek is “krino”. It means “to pick out” or “to choose by separating”. What is interesting is that Homer used this word in reference to separating the wheat from the chaff. Remember this word because it will come up again in this passage, and in a place that you don’t expect.

Is there a righteous type of judgment? Yes! “For in the way that you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2. This should be a powerful motivation for the believer to handle a matter with utmost care. By the standard and measure that we pass judgment is how God will judge us. This should strike fear into the believer. The believer must be discerning, kind, and gentle when pronouncing a judgment. If we do not, then when we stray, we will not be dealt with so kindly. This is why I say, “Judge others as you would want to be judged.” In church discipline (which is a form of judgment), the end goal is to restore the believer who is out of fellowship with God because of a sin that they are clinging too unabashedly. Keep in mind that church discipline also protects the flock from falling into that sin. There is a healthy fear that comes when you know that you will be held accountable for your actions by other believers. In life, let’s be honest, we do make unrighteous judgments all the time. How often have we judged someone’s motives behind an action and found out we were completely wrong? How often have we had victories over a sin that has plagued us only to look down on people that are suffering in sin? How often have we refused to forgive someone and then cast all kinds of judgments upon them in light of their offense against us? These are all unrighteous.

We make all kinds of unholy distinctions by skin color, education, dress, health, beauty, wealth, people in the same station of life, athletic teams we support, etc… God condemns these things in James 2:1-4. In fact, “personal favoritism” is prosopolempsia. It is a compound of three Greek words. Pros (meaning “towards”), ops (meaning “eye”, more specifically the area around the eye), and lambano (meaning “To take with the hand”. The implication being that you are using something for your own personal gain). It is literally to show preference to someone solely based on external things for your own gain. Do we not make unfair judgments daily based on external features or perceptions? Do you immediately look down on a Mormon when you see them riding their bikes down a street? How about when you meet someone from the Middle East, do you automatically assume they are Muslim, or even worse, a terrorist? The believer needs to flee from making such judgments. We as feeble men are so shallow in our judgments.

Even scripture is full of people making bad judgments. When Mary poured the alabaster vile of perfume on Jesus head, scripture tells us that the disciples became upset. They believe she had just wasted perfume that was the equivalent to a year of wages when it could have been sold and given to the poor. The book of John tells us that the instigator of this was Judas. “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” John 12:6. Judas was a lover of money and was incensed over this solely because he wanted to steal the money from the sale. The disciples failed to show discernment because they went along with Judas and made a self-righteous judgment. Christ corrected the apostles and commended Mary’s selfless act to Him as it was written in God’s holy word for us to see for eternity. How many times have we said something just like Judas about another believer? Oh, how we love to judge other people’s motives. I am so guilty of this.

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? Matthew 7:3-4

In Greek, the “speck” denotes a tiny piece of sawdust so small that it can easily fly up into the air. By the way, this speck of sawdust shows the believer’s disposition to constantly sin. The seeds of every sin are planted within us. The “log” in the Greek represents a giant piece of timber. Now notice, “but do not notice the log”. In Greek it is, “οὐ κατανοέω” (ou katanoeo). “ou” is not the strongest negative in the Greek language, but it is stronger than all the other singular negatives like, “a” (alpha). The word katanoeo means “to carefully study something by looking it up and down.” I could render this verse, “But you do not carefully examine your own life for sin and perceive the giant beam (stronghold) that is in your own eye.” Have you had a big tree go down in your yard because of a storm? Did you look at the base of the tree and marvel at how large the trunk was? Cut the base off the tree and you have a large piece of timber/beam. The beams they made for support in erecting buildings and castles are enormous. Imagine having that in your eye. You would not be able to see anything around you. If this type of beam blocks your spiritual vision, then the only thing you can do is guess at the sin in someone else’s life. You cannot see clearly to make any proper distinction of what is wrong with someone else. You are spiritually blind.

Let me be clear on one more point. The hypocritical are always hypercritical. They will pick out any flaw/perceived flaw they can find in you and treat it as if it were a beam. They are always looking to place others underneath their “righteousness”. Many families and friends have had splits because one member has taken it upon themselves to pick out any flaw they can find in others, while disregarding their own flaws. These sins grow bigger and deeper the longer they are not addressed and often end in tragedy for this person. They are the essence of “ou katanoeo”. The do no introspection and thrive on severing relationships, not repairing them. Beloved, you must flee from this. It only seeks to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5

“hypocrite” is ὑποκριτής (hypokritēs). “Hupo” means, “under”. While the second half of the word, “krites” derives from “krino”. If you remember, krino means, “to judge”. Properly stated, “a judging under” or better stated, “to judge from underneath”. But, to judge from underneath what? In ancient Greece actors wore masks to cover up whom they really were. They wore masks that showed emotional expressions or masks of different characters that they portrayed. Each actor would wear more than one mask in each play to represent different characters. This word actually was used in ancient Greece for actors. It means, “actor”. Hypocrites wear different masks and personas covering up who they really are. They make these judgments under these masks while completely blind to their own hypocrisy. Both the believer and the unbeliever are alike in that we are both hypocrites. The only difference is that the believer can recognize their hypocrisy because we have the Holy Spirit. The unbeliever cannot. I believe that Christ is showing us that we are far more tolerant of our own sin than the sins of others.

Christ is showing us that there is a righteous type of judgment. In fact, this specific word (hypokrites) is used 18 times in the New Testament and was only wielded by Christ. Christ being free of hypocrisy is showing us the way to be free from our hypocrisy. We must carefully examine ourselves up and down with the word of God to see if there is anything that is blocking our vision. When we confess and repent of this sin, then we will see clearly to be able to make wise judgments. Make no mistake, we were created to make judgments. Paul even said that we will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). We make judgments on a multitude of things daily, so we must use discernment.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

Once you can see clearly from the removal of the log in your own eye you will be able to exercise discernment. This is what verse 6 is about. Dogs back in this day were wild animals. They were more like scavengers, and they ran in packs harassing livestock. It was these very dogs that devoured Jezebel’s body. Swine were simply unclean animals in Jewish society which they were forbidden to eat. What we are seeing here in these two analogies are meanings that are one in the same. These animals represent unbelievers, and they are hostile to the kingdom of God. God’s pearls of correction are for the believer and should not be cast before the unbeliever. Otherwise, they will turn and tear you to pieces. Unbelievers do not want to hear God’s truth. I have made this mistake before sharing God’s truth with atheists who did not want to be corrected. I threw God’s pearls before swine and they turned and tore me to pieces with some of the most evil curses and language one could ever read. I was rattled for days, but gained wisdom for the future. Use discernment in everything you do. Keep in mind that in the heat of the moment might not be the best time to address issues with people. Sometimes God wants us to move quickly, while others He desires that we wait for the right time. Use discernment for His glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

We will get back into the book of Nehemiah for the next blog post picking up in Nehemiah 4:11.

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Author: thomascoutouzis

I was born in the United States as a second generation Greek. My family comes from the Island of Kalymnos which is the island next to Patmos (Where the apostle John wrote Revelation). My wife Kathy is of Korean descent and we have two wonderful children, Chloe and Micah. We live in a small town outside of Raleigh, North Carolina called Fuquay Varina. The Lord redeemed me as a young boy as my mother (who was a believer) shared the Gospel with me. If I had to categorize my denomination I would most likely fall into the Reformed Baptist realm with some differences over non-essential doctrine. I am an expositional bible teacher who attends Fellowship Baptist Church in Willow Springs, NC. For the last few years I have been taking God's word and teaching it on outlets like Twitter and Wordpress. I am also a fan of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis' fantasy novels. As such I am writing a fantasy series full of adventure, while weaving deep theological truth into the story and characters. My first book, "Athanasia: The Great Insurrection" is available in both ebook and paperback currently. I am hoping to release the second book in the series, "Athanasia: The Unknown Lands" around September of 2018.

14 thoughts on “To Judge or Not to Judge”

  1. I have taught on this twice in the last month. The Lord called an audible so I stopped Nehemiah. I believe it is something that Lord wants people to hear. I worked on this and refined it a few times. I haven’t spent this much time on one particular blog before. Hopefully, it will enlighten and bless many, while also speaking to those that need to understand this.

    Liked by 1 person

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