Two Types of Judging

Matthew 7:1-5

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Our scripture reading today is from Matthew chapter 7, Jesus Sermon on the Mount. He says,

Do not judge or you too will be judged for in the same way you judge others. You will be judged. And with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye. How can you say to your brother. Let me take the speck out of your eye when all the time there is a plank in your own eye. You hypocrite. First take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

I’d like you imagine something. Imagine that you had been asked to babysit a little girl and before her parents left for the night, maybe to go to a movie, they warned you that there is a young boy, maybe a teenage boy, in the neighborhood that likes to come and try to get their little daughter to come out and play with him. But the problem is, they tell you, that this boy has a problem with little girls. And he often causes them harm. And so they warn you about him in order to protect their daughter.

If that boy shows up while they’re gone, you would rightly say ‘I’m sorry, but I’m not going to let this little girl go out and play with you.’ That would be a good form of judging. A proper form of judging. You’re doing it to show love to the little girl and to protect her from harm. And you’re also doing it to protect this young man from getting into more trouble.

However, if the parents come back later that night and ask you if this boy came to the door and you began running him down as some horrible person, in order to destroy his reputation, that would be the wrong form of judging. We need to understand that there are two types of judging that Jesus talks about in the Bible.

The one form of judging is when we do it out of love and out of concern. Maybe to help someone who is stuck in a particular sin or to help somebody to stay out of trouble or away from false doctrine. That’s a proper God pleasing form of judging.

But the sinful form of judging that Jesus warns about is when we judge someone in hopes of looking better than they are, or possibly putting them down, and harming their reputation. This type of judging Jesus clearly condemns.

Jesus gives us this advice if we ever have to approach someone about a particular sin. And he tells us just like someone with a speck of dust in their eye that before we go and help pull that speck out of their eye we should pull the beam, or the log, out of our own eye.

Martin Luther once said that ‘if we’re honest with ourselves we all have boards in our eyes big enough to build a pig trough.’ So when Jesus says that we should pull the beam out of our own eye he means that we need to repent of our own sins and to recognize our guilt before God and to come to him for his wonderful grace in Christ that forgives that sin and brings us to life in heaven. With that attitude we can then properly approach someone else and talk to them about their sin.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t say we should leave the person alone. He says once you take the plank out of your own eye then you will see clearly to remove the speck that’s in your brother’s eye. May God give us the proper understanding of judgment, God pleasing form of judgment, and also the judgment that he warns about so that someday we can stand in his presence through faith in Christ Jesus on the Great Day of Judgment when God will welcome us home. Amen.