“1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye” (Matthew 7: 1-5)
The above passage forms part of Jesus’ concluding message in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7). From our article last week, we learnt that the Lord was not condemning the judging of wrongdoers by the court which is lawful and necessary. Neither was He condemning the forming of an opinion of others nor the church’s exercise of discipline on erring members. What Jesus condemned was the rash and severe judgment of others without first considering our own faults and the circumstances of the other party.
Why should we not judge another? What principles should we apply before making judgments? Let us consider the Lord’s teachings for our further instruction:
1. In judging another, we ourselves will be judged in like measure (vv. 1-2)
Those who judge others must expect to be judged themselves by the same standards: “Judge not, that ye be not judged: 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (vv. 1-2).
God Who is just and righteous in His judgments, applies a fair rule of proportion. Our harsh judgments of others “will be judicially returned upon ourselves when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” (J F Brown Commentary).
If we are extreme in our judgment of others, we must expect the Lord to weigh us in the same balance and judge us in like measure. What would become of us, if God were to judge us as harshly as we judge our brethren? Do we not hope that God will deal mercifully with us? In his plea for mercy, the prophet Habakkuk cried out: “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3: 2).
2. In judging others, we are often blind to our own faults (vv. 3-4)
Jesus justly reproved those who magnified the faults of others while they themselves had greater ones. Using the imagery of the mote and the beam, the Lord showed the absurdity of magnifying the small faults of our brethren while we indulge our greater ones: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” (vv. 3-4).
The Greek word for “mote” (“karphos”) means “a little splinter”, while the beam is a huge piece of timber. It is absurd that we can easily spot a “mote” in our brother’s eye while remaining unconscious of the “beam” in our own eye. Matthew Henry elaborates: Our own sins ought to appear greater to us than the same sins in others: …There are many that have beams in their own eyes, and yet do not consider it. They are under the guilt and dominion of very great sins, and yet are not aware of it, but justify themselves, as if they needed no repentance nor reformation; …It is common for those who are most sinful themselves, and least sensible of it, to be most forward and free in judging and censuring others: the Pharisees, who were most haughty in justifying themselves, were most scornful in condemning others. They were severe upon Christ’s disciples for eating with unwashen hands, which was scarcely a mote, while they encouraged men in a contempt of their parents, which was a beam.
3. In judging others, we must first be right in our own lives (vv. 4-5)
The Lord had sharp words for those who dealt severely with the faults of others but were indulgent of their own. Chiding them for their inconsistency and hypocrisy, He commanded them to deal first with their own sins before judging others: “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye” (vv. 4-5).
In order to correct the faults of others – to “cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” – we must first remove the “beam” that obscures our sight, by dealing with our own faults.
“The sentiment is, that the readiest way to judge of the imperfections of others is to be free from greater ones ourselves. This qualifies us for judging, makes us candid and consistent, and enables us to see things as they are, and to make proper allowances for frailty and imperfection” (Albert Barnes).
Brethren, let us learn to be charitable and just in all our dealings. Do not judge others rashly or severely. Strive to understand their struggles and difficult circumstances before passing judgment. Remember that none is perfect. Cultivate a kind and gracious spirit.
When we judge others, God will apply the same standards to us. Check our lives for inconsistencies. Be mindful of the “beam” in our own eye. Let us first deal with our own faults before we judge others. May the Lord help us to be true to Him in all our relationships.