Day 23

Do Not Judge

from the The Sermon on the Mount reading plan


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

BY Rebecca Faires

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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Post Comments (35)

35 thoughts on "Do Not Judge"

  1. Becky says:

    Wow. Always a timely message. Daily confession is a must.

    But what really stood out to me was the passage from James. I need to read it again and reflect on it and pray over it. I can’t do it right now (I’m actually at work) but I will have time later. I have had a rough night and a rough day dealing with the situation in Nicaragua and trying to support my friends there in what feels like pointless prayer. I needed that message.

  2. Word Lover says:

    This is such an area of difficulty for me, it is encouraging to hear that I am not the only one!

    1. ScriptureOne says:

      We’re all in the same boat!

  3. Kristen Clegs says:

    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.

  4. Bekah says:

    loved ones and my l

    1. Bekah says:

      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?

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