Read Matthew 7:1-5
1 Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (NLT)
This is one of those texts that is so commonly misunderstood. Some have Jesus saying we ought not to criticise anyone. Ignoring the fact that Jesus is speaking of judging and even then speaking in a certain context.
Judging means delivering some final authoritative verdict on someone. And it can have a negative meaning, like when we use the word ‘judgemental’. But some form of ‘judging’ is right and proper. It has to be done in the right spirit in the interests of fairness and justice. Jesus exercised judgement, as do we. Jesus criticised, as do we.
The point Jesus is making arises out of the logs-and-specks illustration. It seems he is attacking the sort of criticism that focusses on others’ faults while being blind to our own. He is attacking making harsh judgements from some supposedly morally superior position.
He is not saying we are never to rebuke or criticise or form opinions. After all, he does invite us to remove the speck from another’s eye. But only if we are doing so from a standpoint of humility. It might be very helpful for us to alert someone to the mess in their backyard. But let’s be sure we are getting to work on cleaning our own backyard at the same time.
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