Instead of criticizing, be discerning

Matthew 7:1-6

Jerry A Collins




v                 Do I ever have the right to judge another person?

v                 What kind of judgment does Jesus say I cannot make?

v                 Why is judging someone even an issue?


Judging is primarily a work of God. In particular Jesus Christ who is God the Son is the judge. He will judge all things Jn 5:22. But for our temporary existence on earth, God has placed responsibility of judgment in the hands of human govts Rom 13:1-5. But what does the Bible say about personally judging one another? What does that look like and how is it different from the judgment Jesus will bring and that delegated to the government by God? When this word is defined it reveals two basic ides: (1) a public official authorized to decide questions brot before a court. (2) the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing. So the first is about justice—an eye for an eye and the second is to discern what is right and what is wrong. The first is relegated to God and government. The second concerns the passage in Matthew 7, judging one another personally. Judging each other individually and not eternally nor judicially, judging each other is the process of discerning what is right and wrong in each other’s actions and then determining the appropriate response which will bring about the best good for each other without attempting to bring about justice—an eye for an eye. Jesus is not telling us not to judge each other. Instead, He is teaching us how to be judges of each other.


Jesus does not say don’t judge each other but judge not so that you won’t be judged. Self-appointed judges who have a critical, condemning spirit can expect to be judged themselves. Judging, He says, is risky responsibility. It is like James wrote in 3:1 Let not many—of you—become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. Teaching is a risky responsibility but that does not mean we should avoid the risk by not teaching. Elders should be able to teach; fathers must teach their children; believers must teach the gospel; older women younger women; we are to teach other disciples who can teach others. Even becoming a xian is high risk since we take Jesus at His Word and gamble that His way is the only way. God took risks when He created angels and humans who can reject you. Judging is a risky responsibility too. The Pharisees were then judging Christ critical and condemning him and finding Him inadequate since his offering of a kingdom of righteousness differed from one they anticipated from the Messiah. Judging one another is not a responsibility to be avoided but one to be assumed understanding the risks involved. It is not ‘no’ judgment but judgment that is not critical and condemning.


We have two warnings about the risky responsibility of judging each other personally.

(1) The way we judge is the way we will be judged 2a. What is your modus operandi? God says the way we are judging in our personal relationships is the same way we can expect to be judged. If we judge with a critical, non-discerning, condemning spirit, we can expect that such judgment will act as a boomerang. It will come back upon the one who judges that way. There is a cause and effect relationship between how we judge others and how we can expect to be judged by others. We get to decide that by how we practice it.

(2) The standard we use to judge others is the standard that will be used to judge us 2b. If you judge others by your own self-made standards and convictions, God says if you do that, then you will also be judged by others imposing standards. Most people do feel free to judge others because they believe they are superior in some way. When we practice critical judgment of others we imply that we know all of the facts, understand all of the circumstances, comprehend all of the motives involved. Only God can judge this way and He has not delegated that responsibility to us in our personal relationships.


Here Christ gives us another unrealistic picture—a log in one eye, a speck in another eye. First, making our selves self-righteous judges of others perverts our perspective of them and ourselves. A speck of sawdust in your eye is not insignificant. A couple of summers ago I had a speck of sand in my eye so severe, I could not eat dinner I ordered at a restaurent. I was in such agony, that I could not even eat. Imagine, then, having this plank in my own eye! The speck and the log represent sin  and  Jesus   is not comparing a very small sin with a large one but between a large one and one that is gigantic. Both the log and the speck are actions not intentions because you cannot see intentions. The point is that the sin of the critic is much greater than the sin of the one being criticized. That sin always blinds us to our own sinfulness and that is being self-righteous. It is a sin of blindness, grossly distorted vision because it looks directly at its own sin and still imagines it sees only righteousness. Self-righteousness justifies self and condemns others. This person does not notice that log in his eye Jesus says. There is not consideration, stopping to think about your own sin. Second, such action is hypocritical vs 5. So repent—take the log out of your own eye. Stop and notice it and then remove it. Take a shot for yourself and say what God says about your sin. Own up to it, confess and change. You can then distinguish the speck in the others eye and help to remove it. Stop the hypocritical self righteous, criticizing and condemning, judging of others. The point is don’t judge by criticism (gossip), punishment (eye for an eye) or guessing about people’s motives—ever! So stop lying to your clients in business before you tell your employees to stop gossiping. Stop treating your wife badly before you tell the children to quit fighting. 4. JUDGE ACTIONS WITH DISCERNMENT 6

For instance, do not give what is holy to dogs. Judgment does not mean to not discern. You are to discern what is a dog. Of course, they are animals and you see them all over the streets of places like India. But here it refers to the ritually unclean Pharisees who while coming up with a set of righteous standards of their own, have trampled upon God’s and are sinful and guilty. Do not entrust to them what is holy or sacred. For instance, do not throw your pearls before swine. The ungodly will refuse to have anything to do with the holy and precious things of God. They will only trample—reject with disdain and then turn on you to destroy you, just like they did with Jesus. So we are to judge—not self-righteously but with discernment.



1. Don’t avoid judging each other because we would rather be tolerant. Tolerance is the absence of discerning judgment. Tolerance of sin is a sin.

2. Judging another’s actions is only for the purpose of correction not punishment. Discipline, instruct, and disciple, that is, help believers get back on the biblical path. Punishment or justice is God’s role.

3. Judging with your own self-made standard—she is not very friendly, that was not nice—is self-righteous and will become an arbitrary standard by which others will judge you.