The Sermon on the Mount: Day 23

Do Not Judge

by

Today's Text: Matthew 7:1-6, Matthew 13:44-46, Romans 2:1-11, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, James 5:7-11

Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:1-6, Matthew 13:44-46, Romans 2:1-11, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, James 5:7-11

We keep all the candy in a basket in the pantry. The leftover Halloween chocolates, the Easter jelly beans, gourmet candy canes from Christmas, and the Valentine hearts—they all end up in our candy basket. A whole year’s worth of sweets for five children. It’s quite a haul. Some years we just forget about it until it degrades, and I throw it away. Once we pulled it all out and decorated our most extravagantly baroque gingerbread house ever. This year, since the kids are a little older, I’ve been pulling out treats and doling them out for occasional sugar-joy.

Since I don’t trust them to make responsible sugar choices, the kids aren’t allowed to get into the candy themselves. But I am. And I do. Not all of it tempts me. I could go the rest of my life without sour or hard candies. But there are some very grown-up chocolates and cookies that sing a sticky-gooey siren song. It floats out from under the door of the pantry, calling to me. I sneak in and steal a snack. Now, if one of my tender babes stole a treat, I would come down hard on them. I’d start by taking away the candy, then lecturing on the dangers of stealing, followed by the risks of sugar on teeth, and then I’d dole out the consequences.

I’ve got a log in my eye. I think my kids have the problem, but really it’s me. I expect my kids to adhere to a standard that I definitely do not hold myself to. I find myself extending that double standard of judgment readily and easily to other people as well.

Have you ever found yourself saying to your friends, “I can’t even imagine doing what she did”? And while it’s possible that you may never be tempted by that specific sin, you are tempted by your besetting sins. We all have those secret sins that we don’t want anyone to know about. And we all have our personal favorite everyday-variety sins that we brush away. Perhaps we’ve just brushed them away so many times that we cease to even think of them as sins.

It’s so much easier to focus on the speck in your brother’s eye, or the flaw in your sister’s character. But I’m just looking past the timber lodged in my own eye when I start looking around for everyone else’s sawdust.

Honestly, we love to judge others differently than we judge ourselves. I have reasons, excuses, justifications for my own faults. And that’s it: when we’re talking about me, they are “faults” or “weaknesses”—definitely not sins. Or so I tell myself. But God has shown us more grace than we could ever show anyone else. Knowing this, how can I judge?

The poet G.M. Hopkins writes:

“Mend first [the] vital candle in close heart’s vault:
You there are master, do your own desire;
What hinders? Are you beam-blind, yet to a fault
in a neighbor deft-handed? Are you that liar[?]”

Are you beam-blind? Do you ignore the guttering of your own candle while criticizing someone else’s flame? Do you, while camped out in utter darkness, judge the dim light of others? Do you admonish others for candy-grabbing, while you actually do the same yourself, in secret?

May God grant us ears to hear and hearts to receive this rebuke to our hypocrisy. May we not trample such precious pearls of admonition, ignoring our logs. And thanks be to God, that He does not deal with us as our iniquities deserve, but has poured out mercy on us! (Psalm 103:10).

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  • Kristen Clegs

    Take this as a genuine question, not biblical truth: can we judge rightly when we have not known God’s judgment? What we as believers do know is God’s love, compassion, mercy, grace, righteousness, salvation, His promise to shape us into the image of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. When a brother or sister has a speck that we believe is keeping them from spiritual growth or is inhibiting the testimony of Christ to the world, we show them what we experientially know, and pray for the Holy Spirit to be sanctifying them as He is sanctifying us. It’s possible that God might lead someone to offer a “word fitly spoken,” to be that proverbs friend – “faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” – but only when it is an extension of a heart of love, done in the right way at the right time. We would do well to remember that God is so much more fervent for the cause of righteousness in His children than we ourselves are, and the Holy Spirit is so much more equipped to convict of sin than we are.

  • loved ones and my l

    • Bekah

      loved ones. I don’t want to be hypocritical, but when is it right to lovingly challenge someone? Obviously after repenting of my own sin but when?

  • I judge others so often and was convicted by this reading today.
    I do wrestle though with how to handle the obvious sins of others that affect them and their l

  • It seems to me that a lot of people think that judging others is not an act of love. If its done in love towards other believers for their good then its ok – im am pretty sure thats in the Bible and I will have to go find it again. I am a huge sinner and im constantly confessing my sins and asking for forgiveness and so i do see the plank in my eye dont get me wrong. As a Christian i do believe that we should NOT be celebrating Haloween – I cringe at what the Lord feels about it. I dont even put up Christmas trees. What do yall think about these things? All I know is I am trying hard not to offend Him. Trying to be in His word every day. Love.

    • Joanne

      I also struggle with the difference between holding a high and reverent view of God and avoiding self righteous judgment. I want an ever growing relationship with the Lord for myself and for others. I do not believe righteous living earns anything but how else are we to live in response to His great mercy? I abhor Halloween and everything it stands for. Rather than celebrating death and evil I celebrate Reformation Day. In the end though I must remember I am not the boss of other people, God is. I long for the day when God fills each heart with the same conviction and we all follow Him in true unity and righteousness. Until then I am thankful for His mercy to me in my besetting sins and for the training Grace He is bringing to His diverse church

  • Lord, in my blindness to my own flaws and sins may I not be judgemental and critical of others. May I notice my heart problems and lay them down to you and accept your mercy and grace and then be able to extend that same mercy and grace to those around me who are flawed yet beautiful as I am.

  • I was a reading a text last night before bed about judgment, and the author wrote that when we judge others, it’s often because we are dissatisfied with something in our own lives that causes us to compare ourselves to another. It’s a mechanism that serves to justify our own behaviors and allow ourselves to “come out on top,” so to speak. This passage is both convicting and challenging to me. When I find myself judging another, the question I should ask myself is this; “What am I dissatisfied with in my own heart that I need to confess to God?” Perhaps our sinful actions can be used in a way to bring us back to Christ, the mercy giver.

  • Caroline

    This is so beautiful and oh so true. I’m so thankful that God wrote different stories for us, both it’s so important to recognize that doesn’t go just for the good, but for the struggles too. Oh Lord, forgive me how I have judged those around me.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • What I have recently been convicted of is my judging specifically if others driving habits. If someone cuts me off, they’re rude, if someone is in the wrong lane for where they need to go, they’re an idiot, if they are driving under the speed limit, they’re incompetent, over the speed limit, they’re reckless. The list goes on and on. But I have done the exact. Same. Thing. But it was because I was in a hurry, or made a mistake, or not paying attention. So yeah, the plank in my eye is so big I probably shouldn’t be driving at all! So I have tried to just be more loving and less judgmental on the roads. The people in the other cars have no idea that I no longer curse them under my breath but I notice that I feel better knowing that I am only concentrating on my driving and my commute is much more peaceful as a result.

    • Verdesage

      This is such a great real life example! Thanks so sharing!

    • Alexis

      I am guilty of doing this. I need to practice this as well!

    • jami

      I’m with you on this. I’m a judgemental driver. I live in a very populous area, one of the worst states for traffic in the country. My son recently told me that when I drive, I turn into a different person. An unkind person, and person who sometimes yells out and says mean things under my breath about other drivers. I’m so guilty of what you just said.

  • Hailey T

    I found myself in a situation at work last night where I was getting so frustrated, angry, and tired. I was frustrated because I judged someone to do poorly at their job before the night began. I decided out of frustration that it wasn’t going to go well. Then I was angry! And you know what? That led to me losing focus and performing poorly. It is all a cycle. If you jump on the wheel you will surely be the judged and the judge. Oh, Lord how I pray for Grace before judgement and gratitude before frustration.

  • Sometimes we judge others because we are judgmental of ourselves. If I’m going to stop being judgmental of others, I also have to stop being hypercritical of myself.

  • Amen!

  • candacejo

    “Judging a person doesn’t define who THEY are…it defines who YOU are.” Lord, help me not to stand in judgment lest I be judged by the same standard! You might enjoy this story from when we lived in Latvia and came upon some interesting characters. http://www.hopeinthehealing.com/2013/08/25/put-on-love/

  • This brought Psalm 139:23-24 to mind as I read the devotional thoughts. Have a blessed day.

  • PursuedByHim

    Ouch! I do this! I didn’t really see my judgment of others as sin, but I sure did see theirs as sin. I really do try, most of the time, to not judge others…but I am petty good at it, so it is a struggle. This was just what I needed.

    God started talking to me through the sermon on Sunday about being a genuine and loving Christian consistently every minute of every day, and now He has added judgment today. I believe he is trying to remind me that if I love Him I will love others.

    Judging others is His job not mine. Showing Christ’s love all the time to others, not just when it is convenient or I feel like it, now that is MY job! If I were busy showing love, I don’t think I would have time to judge.

    I will work on that starting right now, Father, as I already know how much You love me. Help me to love others like you love me. Amen.

  • churchmouse

    “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth.” (Romans 2:2) I cannot know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about someone else’s actions. Best leave it all to God Who sees all and knows all. Easy to say but I fail at this more often than I care to admit. Praying for eyes to see my own beam of wood and remove it with repentance.

  • Karen From Virginia

    Judging is a lifelong challenge. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s subtle. The more I know my heart and the more I know people, I have learned to have compassion for others and honesty about my planks. I need to show more compassion to this who are Believer and mess up. Our only hope is Jesus because apart from His righteousness, I’m doomed. Only Jesus can give me the love for others and only Jesus can wash me clean. ❤️

  • I help sponsor FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) at my high school. Several years ago we went through a period of time where the students involved in FCA were being called hypocritical and judmental. I was talking to one of my leaders about what was going on and what he thought. I remember every word that he said because it made such an impact on my life. He said, “Mrs. Stansell, I have to spend so much time taking care of my own sins that I don’t have time to worry about someone else’s.” Out of the mouths of babes, right? It made me realize that if we would all mind our own business and leave the convicting and judging up to God we would all be better off. Confronting someone about sin in their lives should only come after we’ve spent much time before the throne. Billy Graham once said that it is God’s job to judge, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and our job to love people. I’m going to do like Tina says and “work on my own ‘plank’ today, so I can see clearly in love, not to judge others as I do, but to be Christ-like in my deeds and thoughts.”
    Be blessed today, sisters!

  • I was going to mention a friend and a situation she had some years back… but I realised in relating it here, aside from gossiping, I would be judging and offering a reason also to judge, in the name of opinion… so, instead I’ll tell you about me..
    When I was younger, absolutely much younger than I am today.. I used to be a store detective. I was able to spot a potential ‘lifter’ when they walked into the store..i would do my ‘Columbo’ bit whilst following them at arms length, and then as they left, I, with the help of a guard, would apprehend the suspect…
    Fast forward a few years ago, I was out in a Big store when I realized I was being watched, and followed…
    I would never have dreamt of stealing anything as a grown up ( yes, as a child, i borrowed…)yet, I clearly felt that judgement over me. They even watched me pay!!!
    Agh. That obvious feeling of being judged by the store officials, because of… my colour, the way I was dressed, the way i was choosing or deciding left me a tad uneasy, i can tell you…
    ‘Planks’ can absolutely blind us…
    But here’s the thing… do we have a right to judge, or pass judgement on others, whether right or wrong?
    As beautiful Rebecca put it…
    ‘Honestly, we love to judge others differently than we judge ourselves. I have reasons, excuses, justifications for my own faults. And that’s it: when we’re talking about me, they are “faults” or “weaknesses”—’
    We need first to ‘get our own house/life in order before anything else..
    Romans 2:1-3 sure does hit home, like a slap across the face…
    Working on ‘my plank’ today, so I can see clearly, in love, to not judge others as I do, but to be Christ like in my deeds and thoughts..Lord, I look to you for guidance, help and leading… in the forgiving and powerful name of Jesus I pray… Amen.

    Hugs. Hugs. Hugs dear sisters…xxxx

    • Jeanna

      Thank you, Tina! Judging others can be cloaked so many times. I come along side your prayer this morning, “Lord, I look for your guidance, help and leading”, and I’ll add, Lord, shine a spotlight on the judgement in my heart. Amen sister….

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