“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?
When considering the Biblical doctrine of judging, the whole counsel of Scripture is to be considered. When that is done, two general principles are discovered.
First, there are certain judgments that must be suspended for they are unprofitable, divisive, and disruptive. Love can cover a multitude of sins without violating justice.
Second, when a judgment (Gk. krima, decision) does take place, God will judge every person the way they stand in judgment on others. “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matt. 7:2). The same way we condemn, or render a decision against someone else, will be the same way God will judge us.
With that in mind, it would be good to establish some boundaries.
Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York, offers extensive information about Evidence Rules that guide various court cases. In the world, there are boundaries that must not be violated, or the court will find the offender in contempt, and a penalty will be administered.
In like manner, led by the Holy Spirit, the Church is to judge a matter of concern according to establish boundaries. There are seven gospel principles to honor.
First, the Church is to judge scripturally.
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).When I am asked my opinion on any matter, I try very hard to base my thoughts on direct statements from the Bible. Like Paul, I want to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5; 1 Cor. 2:14-16).
Charles Spurgeon wrote,
“Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts.
Second, the Church is to judge carefully.
Let no hasty decisions be made. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Prov. 18:13). Part of a careful evaluation of a matter is to hear from all who are involved.
As a school administrator, I would tell parents each year at orientation, “If you will not believe everything you hear about our teachers, they will not believe everything they hear about you.” The only side to be taken is the side of righteousness, as defined by the Word of God.
Third, the Church is to judge prayerfully, and ask for discernment.
Solomon prayed for wisdom to judge Israel, and he prayed for discernment. “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing” (1 Kings 3:8-10).
According to 1 Corinthians 12:10, discernment is a spiritual gift bestowed by the Spirit on some, but can be prayed for by all. At the moment of salvation, God the Holy Spirit gives every born-again believer a spiritual gift, according to His sovereign will. But additional gifts of the Spirit can be prayed for, and the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13).
Fourth, the Church is to judge impartially.
The be impartial is to be unbiased. It is to treat all alike. To be impartial is to be equitable, fair, just. The French Romantic writer and politician, Victor Hugo (1802-1885) noted, “Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.” “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment” (Prov. 24:23).
The apostle James noted the wisdom from above is first “then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical” (James 3:17, NET).
The enemies of Jesus admitted that He was impartial. One day some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we know that You are sincere and that You teach the way of God truthfully, without concerning Yourself about [what] anyone [thinks or says of Your teachings]; for You are impartial and do not seek anyone’s favor [and You treat all people alike, regardless of status]” (Matt. 22:16).
Fifth, the Church is to judge truthfully.
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
Liberal Democratic, Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the New York civil trial of the former President, Donald Trump, has openly bragged about letting his feeling influence a case. Ideally, in a court of law, feelings are to be set aside and the facts of a case are to be presented, if righteousness is to prevail. When truth is not present during a time of deliberation, terrible behavior will follow.
When Joseph was accused by Potiphar’s wife of an inappropriate advancement, he was thrown into jail.
Because the friends of Job did not know the truth about Job being part of the angelic conflict raging in heaven, they falsely accused him, and added to his sufferings.
When false witnesses testified against Jesus, here was no truth, and the Lord of Glory was crucified.
One way to arrive at truth is to return to the spot, the point of origin, when something went wrong. On December 22, 1847, a freshman Whig Congressman from Illinois, introduced the “Spot Resolutions,” as he tried to find out the truth about the war with Mexico. Lincoln, questioned whether the “spot” where blood had first been shed was really on U.S. soil. Lincon’s inquiry was wise. Let us find the point of origin of a conflict being adjudicated.
Sixth, the Church is to Judge with gentleness.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). In the matter of salvation, we ask the Lord to be gentle with us, even though we know how worthy of severe punishment sin has made us. Still, we sing,
“Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief.”
~Frances J. Crosby
Seventh, the Church is to judge with mercy in mind.
“For years I travelled,
a road of wrong.
My heart had lost its joy,
and its song.
Then grace placed me,
right where I belonged,
rewrote my life.
Mercy rewrote my life.
Mercy rewrote my love.
I kept falling, my soul cast down,
But mercy rewrote my life.”
~Tammy Faye Baker
The responsibility and power to judge righteously must not be taken away from God’s people. What we as Christians are to do is to guard our hearts against unnecessary and inappropriate condemnation that borders on pettiness, and a censorious spirit. There are passages of Scripture that prohibit this behavior.
In Matthew 7:3, Jesus asked,
“Why beholdest thou the mote (Gk. karphos, something dry, hence a particle of wood or chaff) that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam (Gk. dokos, a stick of timber) that is in thine own eye?
The lesson is clear. How can we help a person with a moral failure in their life while there is a huge moral failure in our own life?
What must happen before we can stand in righteous judgment on someone else?
We must first cast out the “beam” out of our own eye; and then we shalt see clearly how to cast out the “mote” out of thy brother’s eye.
Those who have flown in a commercial airplane are told, in the event of an emergency, they must put their own mask on first, before trying to assist anyone else.
The instruction is important. We must help ourself before we can help anyone else.The same goes for sin. We cannot help someone with their sins, if we ourselves have not repented yet. How can we demand someone else be contrite of heart, and broken over sin, if our own hearts are as cold as ice and hard as stone. In closing, let us review the three main lessons of this passage.
First, we are not to judge others in a frivolous manner. We are not to have a critical or censorious spirit.
Second, when we do judge something authorized by God, we are only to judge according to established gospel principles.
Third, before we turn to others, we must sanctify our own hearts, or our anger and hostility will be to no avail. (Just ask Jonah! Jonah 4:4).
Now all this we will do, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.