Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

This passage of Scripture is cited quite often today. And, most of the time it is cited for the wrong reasons. It is a favorite among those who wish to sin without consequences, yet it does serve the believer tremendously when interpreted rightly.

The simple idea is judge not the wrong way.

Judge Not The Wrong Way…Don’t Be Judgmental And Condemning

The first thing to see is that we should not be judgmental and condemning toward other people. There is a right and wrong attitude when viewing others and a right and wrong attitude when viewing ourselves. Viewing another person in a condemning way is sinful and ultimately a failure to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).

There is a proper way to deal with sin in others, and that would be a gentle and loving criticism that recognizes our own faults as well. The discussion here should make us laugh a little. To judge someone else’s speck in their eye while a log is in our own is laughable, but it does get to something that we experience a lot in our lives. Think about the person that drives you the craziest. What is it about that person that you just can’t stand? Now, be honest, do you see that very same character trait in yourself? For a lot of you, the answer is a resounding “yes!” Why? It is much easier for us to see the faults in others than within ourselves. And even though these actions should be seen as ludicrous, they are very much the attitudes that we have toward other people.

You Will Be Judged By The Standard That You Use To Judge Others

This goes back to something that was discussed a while back. When we looked at Matthew 6:14-15 we saw that forgiven people forgive. Our being saved by God’s grace should move us to judge others using the right standard.

I was lost, a sinner in rebellion against God and he saved me through the redemption achieved by his Son. What a glorious message! What a glorious thought! And, even though I still behave rebelliously toward God, he continues to love me and care for me. Now, if I understand my own sinfulness, if I have judged myself to be as bad as I really am then I will be lighter in my judgment of others. Why? Because I will notice that my own good behavior is due to the grace of God. A common Christian phrase for some time now has been, “but for the grace of God there go I”. It is uttered when sinful rebellion occurs, or someone is hauled off to prison. It is a reminder that if it had not been for the grace of God I would be in the same predicament. Yet, because of God’s grace, I am not there. I have been redeemed and rescued out of that life. A person who has been forgiven, will see this in his own life and forgive others.

I will illustrate this the best way that I can. Let’s imagine two people are out and see a Gay Pride Parade. One is a person who is condemning and judgmental, while the next person is judging rightly.

The first person looks out and sees the open sin and looks at these people with disgust. They simply cannot believe that these people would be in such open rebellion. He despises them and he might even let them know, rather forcefully, what they are doing that is so sinful.

The second person looks at the sin and believes it to be disgusting. Both of these people see their actions as open sin and look at this with disgust. But two things happen to the second person. He becomes sorrowful by the darkness that has overtaken these people, and rather than treating them with hatred he feels great sorrow for them and treats them with kindness. He can thank God for the grace that has kept him from living in such open rebellion as he sees himself as being a sinner who is in need of God’s grace.

There is truly a massive difference in right judgment and wrong judgment of others. Yet, there is a judging that we should do when in discussion with others.

Judge Unbelief from Belief

Love for others means that we care for them enough not to allow them to live in the sin and the rebellion that they currently live in. Toward people who claim to be believers that means calling them to repentant of their sin. Toward people who are not believers, that means telling them about Jesus and calling them to repentance and faith.

Interestingly, Jesus here says for us not to continue preaching to those who reject the gospel with contempt and scorn. Those who claim to be Christians are treated differently than those who are not here, but really this principle is being applied to both.

The believer who is in rebellion is to be told of their fault, but if there is no repentance then they are eventually, after a long process, removed from the Church (Matthew 18:15-20). There comes a time when they are no longer to be a part of the community of believers in hopes that they will see their wickedness and return to obedience.

The lost person who is told the gospel and politely rejects you is not discussed here. The lost person who openly and in a hostile way rejects the gospel with scorn is what is being discussed here. And, it is those people that believers are to abandon sharing the gospel with.

To illustrate this idea read Acts 13:44-47.

Concluding Thoughts

According to Jesus, there is a right and a wrong way to judge others. Sometimes judging others is necessary, as in how they respond to the gospel message or the message that they need to be living differently. Sometimes, however, we can judge others without regard to our own sinfulness. Remember that you are a sinner in need of a Savior and consider your own faults before casting judgment on others.

R. Dwain Minor