Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
In today’s scripture, we hear Jesus proclaim another moral standard that is consistent with what it means to live as a follower of Christ. It’s a moral standard that is abused and compromised every day throughout the world. It’s the “sin” of judgemental hypocrisy.
Unfortunately, a lot of damage has been done to the Christian faith by Christians who say one thing and do another. It is of utmost importance that we live lives of consistency and integrity in order to safeguard the name of Christ, whom we represent.
Jesus is not suggesting that we have no right to make moral judgments about human behavior, and he is certainly not suggesting we have no right to hold others accountable. He doesn’t condemn mutual accountability and moral responsibility and the need to address sin in the church—he addresses hypocrisy.
It makes little sense to approach a Christian brother or sister about their specific sin if we are committing the very same sin and are unwilling to address it or break free from it.
How easy it is to misjudge and how difficult it is to be impartial in judgment. Our judgment of others is usually “off the mark” because we can’t see inside the person to their inner motives and intentions, or we don’t have access to all the facts, or we are swayed by instinct and unreasoning reactions to people. It is easier to find fault in others than in oneself.
Jesus also reminds us that judgment always reciprocates. In other words, the measuring stick used to measure the lives of others will be the same measuring stick held up against their lives by God himself.
The truth is we should all be sorrowful about sin in our lives. And when we see it, we should address it, confessing it and forsaking it out of reverence for God. It is only when we are consistently doing this ourselves that we are qualified and able to address the sins in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the church, which we must do as well.
Prayer of The Day
“O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for thy name’s sake.” (Prayer of William Barclay, 20th century)
We are commanded to judge the sin, not the sinner. When we point out someone else’s sin, we should do so with love and compassion, and with the intent of helping the person see that their actions are not only hurting others, but hurting themselves. We should want them to see that their relationship to God is more important than anything, and that it is important to us as well. When we sum it all up, in order to love one another we must obey the command of Jesus’ to teach one another the commandments.