Matthew 7:1-6 Do Not Judge WC McCarter
There are many different perspectives on this week’s passage.
Society tells us to focus on verse one and to keep our mouths shut.
Fundamentalists tell us to focus on verse six and to speak out.
All I want to know is what Jesus said and what He meant when He said it.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
The Command: Do Not Judge Others (1)
Judge [κρίνετε] = Despise (Rom 14:3 [ἐξουθενείτω / κρινέτω]).
To hold in contempt. To belittle. To demean.
Do not be fault-finding, severely critical, assuming a position of authority.
Key Cross-References: (Gal 6:1; 1 John 3:16; 1 Pet 4:15).
Reason #1: The Principle of Reciprocity (2)
We could let the fact that Jesus commanded us not to judge stand as our first reason not to do so, but we will leave it as our heading and make verse two our first reason. Jesus has already taught that we ought to forgive others if we want God to forgive us. In much the same way, He now teaches that how we treat others will, in turn, help to provide a basis for God’s treatment of us.
*If we hold others in contempt, the Lord will hold us in contempt.
Illustration: Think of the story of Jonah. The prophet thought so ill of the Ninevites and obviously held them in contempt. So, how did the Lord respond? He did not let Jonah off the hook. He made it very hard on Jonah, and ultimately the Lord’s will was achieved. (I personally believe that Jonah recorded his own story and left for us a negative example. So then, in my hopeful view, Jonah learned the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach, although it could have been much less miserable).
Application: This is not to teach something like karma. What it does teach is that we worship and serve a personal and sovereign God. He sees all things and knows all things. He is very much interested in our day-to-day lives and is involved in all of these different circumstances in which we find ourselves.
He will correct and teach those who belong to Him.
Reason #2: The Trap of Hypocrisy (3-5)
I know that I keep returning to this parable (that I’m about to share again) as an illustration for so much of the Sermon on the Mount, but, remember, Jesus is correcting the poor doctrines and practices of the hypocritical Pharisees (and the same is certainly true of this passage today). So, let this image that Jesus shared in Luke 18 burn into your memory.
Illustration: Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised [ἐξουθενοῦντας] others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We can think so much of ourselves that we become blind to our own sin.
This Pharisee in the parable was probably a fairly righteous man according to contemporary expectations, yet he became so puffed up that he did not even realize that he was looking down on others, that he was arrogant.
Do you see the trap of hypocrisy? Splinter vs. Plank
Application: We must first deal with our own sins so that we can then gently and carefully help others in their times of need and struggle.
Reason #3: The Threat of Injury (6)
Dogs/Swine: The most common interpretation throughout church history has been to use this verse to deny others the Lord’s Supper (pearl = Lord’s Supper). The common interpretation today, I think, is to say that enemies of the Gospel (persecutors/hostile) should be denied the Gospel (pearl = Gospel/evangelism). On a surface reading, without the context, it does seem to give permission to judge, doesn’t it? Yet, can you think of any scenario in which the Lord would not want us to share the Good News with someone? I can’t.
Thomas Bennett says, (1) Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine = do not judge; and (2) Lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you = lest you be judged. Bennett says that Jesus is borrowing the words of the hypocrites (Pharisees) and by doing so was actually condemning their use of the idea.
Illustration: I have shared this story with a few of you before, but it is fitting for this point. There are certain churches in our community who still send folks out to go door-to-door and talk to people/leave a flyer. One day another pastor friend of mine and I were standing outside in my driveway when three teenagers popped up from a particular church in our community and said, “Hey, do you guys go to church?” We both grinned and said, “As a matter of fact. . . .” One of the boys said, “What, are you preachers?” (He was very perceptive). We responded, “Yes, we are both preachers.” He shot back, “Well, hopefully you are Baptist preachers.” So, I sarcastically said (and I’m telling on myself, here), “No, neither one of us are Baptist preachers, and we don’t use the KJV either.” They said nothing else and scurried off.
Now, what point can I be making by telling you this? I have often thought since then that these folks go out into the community casting their little “pearls of wisdom” before the “swine,” but I can easily imagine a scenario where one of these guys smarts off to someone and they get cold-cocked (= turn and tear you in pieces), especially these young boys who are out there on their own.
*It is one thing to be persecuted because you are sharing the Good News with someone or simply because you are a Christian, but it is another thing to be attacked because you have verbally assaulted or shamed someone else.
Conclusion and Christian Application
*Sharing our little bits of so-called wisdom (our opinions, our judgments, our criticisms) is not sharing the Gospel, it is not effective, and Jesus gives us so many reasons to not do it: (1) He Commands to Not Judge; (2) He Shares the Principle of Reciprocity (God will Judge Us); (3) He Cautions of the Trap of Hypocrisy; and (4) He Warns of the Threat of Self-Induced Injury.
Do not criticize, but instead. . . (vv. 7-12). Ask, seek, knock refers to prayer. *So, instead of criticizing others, we should deal with our own short-comings, and we should pray for those around us who are not in the grace of the Lord.
(We will return to this second part in verses 7-12 next week).