“Emmanuel’s Criteria” – Matthew 7:1-6

April 12th, 2015

Matthew 7:1-6

“Emmanuel’s Criteria”

 

Service Orientation: We must judge without being judgmental.  We must be firm without being hard.  We must be loving without being soft.  Only the Spirit of Jesus can accomplish such an impossible task.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. — Luke 6:45

 

The tongue is you in a unique way.  It is a tattletale that tells on the heart and discloses the real person.  Not only that, but misuse of the tongue is perhaps the easiest way to sin.  There are some sins that an individual may not be able to commit simply because he does not have the opportunity.  But there are no limits to what one can say, no built-in restraints or boundaries.  In Scripture, the tongue is variously described as wicked, deceitful, perverse, filthy, corrupt, flattering, slanderous, gossiping, blasphemous, foolish, boasting, complaining, cursing, contentious, sensual and vile.  And that list is not exhaustive.  No wonder God put the tongue in a cage behind the teeth, walled in by the mouth!  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 144)

 

Can you name the muscle in your body that receives more exercise and less control than any other?

Medically, they say it’s only a two-ounce slab of muscle, mucous membrane, and nerves that enables us to chew, taste, swallow food, and articulate words.  Redefined in nontechnical, relational terms–it’s a two-ounce beast, sometimes.

Sometimes it frames deceit (Ps 50:19), devises destruction (Ps 52:2), devours (Ps 52:4), is a sharp sword (Ps 57:4), breaks bones (Prv 25:15), backbites (Prv 25:23), flatters (Prv 28:23), and poisons (Rom 3:13).  You know this protean lump simply as the tongue.  (Charles R. Swindoll, James: Practical and Authentic Living, 101)

 

Because we live in a culture that claims everyone has a right to do what he or she wants to do, this verse {Mt 7:1} gets quoted whenever the church makes a pronouncement against some form of sinful behavior.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 187)

 

For the world . . . The ideal Christian, and especially the ideal clergyman, is an undiscerning, flabby, indulgent, all-accepting jellyfish who lives out the misinterpretation of “judge not.”  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–The Sermon on the Mount, 228)

 

To outsiders the word Christian has more in common with a brand than a faith.  This shift of meaning in recent decades has been magnified by an increasing use of the term Christian to label music, clothes, schools, political action groups, and more.  And sadly, it is a bad brand in the minds of tens of millions of people.  In the middle of a culture where Christianity has come to represent hypocrisy, judgmentalism, anti-intellectualism, insensitivity, and bigotry, it’s easy to see why the next generation wants nothing to do with it. (David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 223)

 

Judge (Webster’s Def.) 1)- To form an authoritative opinion.   2)- To decide as a judge.  3)- To determine or pronounce after inquiry and deliberation.   5)- To form an estimate, conclusion or evaluation about something.  6)- TO THINK

 

Background Information:

  • This is one of those passages of Scripture which we must be careful not to strain beyond its proper meaning. It is frequently abused and misapplied by the enemies of true religion.  It is possible to press the words of the Bible so far that they yield not medicine, but poison.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 48)
  • The sin of the tongue is one among many, though a very significant one. When Paul lists five different organs of the body that are vehicles of sin–throat, tongue, lips, mouth, and feet (Romans 3:13-15)–it is informative that four of the five relate to speech.  (Vernon Doerksen, James, 76)
  • The tongue and its use is important to James. And as such it occurs in every chapter of his letter.
  • Some would regard chapter 7 of Matthew’s Gospel as just a collection of aphoristic statements with very little internal connection between them. But it seems to me that that is quite a mistaken view of this section of the Sermon, because there is quite clearly an underlying theme in the entire chapter, that of judgment.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 424)
  • (v. 3) A karphos (speck) is not a tiny piece of dust or soot but a small stalk or twig, or possibly a splinter. Though small in comparison to a log, it is not an insignificant object to have in the eye.  Jesus’ comparison, therefore, is not between a very small sin or fault and one that is large, but between one that is large and one that is gigantic.  The primary point, of course, is that the sin of the critic is much greater than the sin of the person he is criticizing.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 435)
  • (v. 6) In the Bible, pigs and dogs are both types of unbelievers. Pigs are types of Jewish unbelievers, and dogs are types of Gentile unbelievers.  “That which is holy” and “pearls” refer to nuggets from the Word of God–things that are revealed to you.  (Bob Yandian, Salt & Light–The Sermon on the Mount, 113)
  • (v. 6) In biblical times dogs were seldom kept as household pets in the way they are today. Except for those used as working animals to herd sheep, they were largely half-wild mongrels that acted as scavengers.  They were dirty, greedy, snarling, and often vicious and diseased.  They were dangerous and despised.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 437)
  • (v. 6) Among the Jews the dogs of the street were held in low esteem. The reference here is not to little pet dogs but to pariahs, large, savage, and ugly.  One could see them almost everywhere, prowling about the garbage and the rubbish thrown into the streets.  They were considered unclean and filthy (Prv 26:11; cf. 2 Pt 2:22; Rv 22:15).  They threaten (Ps 22:16, 20), howl and snarl (Ps 59:6), are greedy and shameless (Isa 56:11).  In brief, they are contemptible (1 Sm 17:43; 24:14; 2 Sm 9:8; 16:9; 2 Kgs 8:13).  To be eaten by dogs was a sign of God’s special curse resting upon a person (1 Kgs 14:11; 16:4; 21:24; cf. 1 Kgs 21:19; 22:38).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 359)
  • (v. 6) The OT mentions swine among the unclean animals (Lv 11:7; Dt 14:8). In Isa 65:4; 66:3, 17 the eating of swine’s flesh is called an abomination.  For the prodigal son to be sent into the fields to feed the pigs must have added to his misery (Lk 15:15, 16).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 359)
  • (v. 6) Anyone who touched an unclean animal would become “ceremonially unclean” and could not go to the temple to worship until he or she had the uncleanness removed. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 131)
  • (v. 6) “What is sacred” refers to the special consecrated food that only the priests and their families ate (Ex 29:33-34; Lv 22:10-16; Nm 18:8-19). It would be unthinkable to give this sacred food to scavenger dogs.  In the same way, it would also be futile to give pearls to pigs.  “What is sacred” and “pearls” picture the teaching of the gospel of the kingdom (see 13:45-46 where the kingdom of heaven is compared to a pearl of great value).  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 131-2)

 

The questions to be answered are . . . Why is Jesus so judgmental about judging?  What is He tying to tell us?

 

Answers: The context of Jesus’ teaching makes it clear that Jesus is not telling us to become mindless, unthinking, uncritical humans.  But, Jesus is telling us to stop being harder on others than you are on yourself.  Let God be the standard for your judgements and judge in love, not selfishness.

 

I believe 21st century Americans have become the most hypocritical culture in the history of the planet.  Think about this for a minute.   The prevailing culture is that no one should judge another and that everyone should determine what is right for them and what is true for them.  But, at the same time, we have become the most critical, sensitive, most easily offended and the most litigious culture ever.  How can this be?  If we truly believe that no one should judge another for their actions and that everyone should be free to determine what is right for them and what is true for them; why are we upset when someone actually lives according to that standard? In my mind it can only mean one thing.  Only I can do what I want and  no one else.

Besides, the minute someone says, “Do not judge” that in itself is a judgement.   — Pastor Keith

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Judge

 

What does Jesus tell us about judging?

I-  Avoid unthinking, ungracious, destructive reciprocating judgment or criticism.  (Mt 7:1-2; see also: Prv 18:21; Lk 6:37; Rom 2:1-3; 1 Cor 11:29; Jam 4:11-12; 5:9)

 

Men who have been so careful to scrutinize and examine others, and to talk about minor blemishes in them, are often amazed when those same people judge them.  They cannot understand it, but they are being judged by their own yardstick and their own measure.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 440)

 

When we have planks in our eyes, we consider them specks.  When we see specks in others’ eyes, we view them as planks.  That is how sin destroys human relationships and community, and that is why Jesus is warning us to be careful.  If we adopt a judgmental spirit toward others, what goes around is going to come around, and we will be judged.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 190)

 

The word used in the text is borrowed from the legal vocabulary of the day, and it has to do with the gavel of the judge coming down when he issues a sentence of punishment.  That is the judgment of condemnation.  So, we could interpret Jesus’ words as “Condemn not, that you be not condemned.”  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 188)

 

Jesus is saying that the judgment of God on our lives will be based on our lives, and how our hearts expressed themselves in thoughts and acts towards others.  So, Jesus warns us, ‘Judge not.’  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World, 151)

 

Jesus’ words Judge not, that you be not judged are well known but much misunderstood.  To begin with, we must reject Tolstoy’s belief, based on this verse, that ‘Christ totally forbids the human institution of any law court’, and that he ‘could mean nothing else by those words’.  But Jesus’ prohibition cannot possibly mean the one thing Tolstoy says it must mean, for the context does not refer to judges in courts of law but rather to the responsibility of individuals to one another.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 175)

 

Many a time the Rabbis warned people against judging others.  “He who judges his neighbor favorably,” they said, “will be judged favorably by God.”  They laid it down that there were six great works which brought a man credit in this world and profit in the world to come–study, visiting the sick, hospitality, devotion in prayer, the education of children in the Law, and thinking the best of other people.  The Jews knew that kindliness in judgment is nothing less than a sacred duty.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1, 261-2)

 

In our present passage Jesus is referring to the judgment of motives, which no mere human being can know of another, and to judgment of external forms, Paul says, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way” (Rom 14:13).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 432)

 

It is the struggle of the natural man for self-justification.  He finds it only in comparing himself with others, in condemning and judging others.  Self-justification and judging others go together, as justification by grace and serving others go together.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 91)

 

During a meeting of college educators at Harvard University in 1987, President Frank Rhodes of Cornell University suggested in an address on educational reforms that it was time for the universities to pay attention to values and the students’ “moral well-being.”

At once there were gasps from the audience, and one student jumped to his feet, demanding indignantly, “Whose values are to be taught?  And who is to teach us?”  The audience applauded loudly, which meant that in its judgment the student had rendered the president’s suggestion foolish by these unanswerable questions.

President Rhodes sat down without even trying to answer them.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary: Romans, Vol. 4, 1485)

 

We set the standard and tone for our final judgment by our judgmental conduct in life.  And we prove by our judging of others that we know what is right.  So if we do not do what is right, we condemn ourselves.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–The Sermon on the Mount, 229)

 

A judgmental attitude excludes us from God’s pardon, for it betrays an unbroken spirit.  The thought is akin to 5:7 and 6:14f: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 107-8)

 

Mercy by definition cannot be earned.  But we may exclude ourselves from mercy by sustained haughtiness and arrogance, by an attitude which reflects the antithesis of true poverty of spirit.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 108)

 

Except as they may be continually teaching false doctrine or following standards that are clearly unscriptural, we are never to judge a person’s ministry, teaching, or life–and certainly not his motives–by a self-styled standard.  “Do not speak against one another,” James warns us.  “He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” (Jam 4:11-12).  Such evil judgment is blasphemous, because it sets a man up as God–and there is only one true Judge.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 433)

 

Throughout chapter 7 Jesus emphasizes the judgment of God.  Here the scale of God’s judgment on the last day is to be in our sight (cf. Rom 2:1-3; 1 Cor 4:4, 5).  Jesus is telling us to remember before we pass judgment on someone else that we too will one day stand before the throne of God to give an account for everything.  So, with what scale would you like God to weigh you?  The scale of mercy that is very forgiving, or the scale of justice that is very exacting, which weighs each and every sinful thought, word, and action with the proper punishment?  Jesus calls you to consider the scale of your forgiving heavenly Father before you judge your earthly brother.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 186)

 

When we assume the role of final, omniscient judge, we imply that we are qualified to judge–that we know and understand all the acts, all the circumstances, and all the motives involved.  Therefore, when we assert our right to judge, we will be judged by the standard of knowledge and wisdom we claim is ours.  If we set ourselves up as judge over others, we cannot plead ignorance of the law in reference to ourselves when God judges us.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 434)

 

Montaigne has a grim tale in one of his essays.  There was a Persian judge who had given a biased verdict, and he had given it under the influence of bribery.  When Cambysses, the king, discovered what had happened, he ordered the judge to be executed.  Then he had the skin flayed from the dead body and preserved; and with the skin he covered the seat of the chair on which judges sat in judgment, that it might be a grim reminder to them never to allow prejudice to affect their verdicts.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1, 264)

 

II-  Be alert to distorted, hypocritical criticism.  (Mt 7:3-5; see also: Prv 15:28; Lk 19:22; Jam 1:19, 26)

 

Somehow, King David, incredibly blind, had been unconscious of the plank in his own eye as he fumed over the speck of sawdust in the rich farmer’s eye.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 110)

 

Theodore Roosevelt:  “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena:  whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood:  who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm; the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

 

The simplest way, perhaps, of putting all this is to ask you to read 1 Cor 13.  Look at the negative of everything positive which Paul says about love.  Love ‘hopeth all things’, but this spirit hopes for the worst; it gets a malicious, malign satisfaction in finding faults and blemishes.  It is a spirit that is always on the lookout for them, and rather delights in them.  There is no question about that, the hypercritical spirit is never really happy unless it finds these faults.  And, of course, the result of all this is that it tends to fix attention upon matters that are indifferent and to make of them matters of vital importance.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 432)

 

Wrath toward the speck in someone else’s life may come from the suppressed guilt over the same massive sin in our own lives.  Log-toting speck inspectors are hypocrites, says Jesus (v. 5).  They do not care at all about the speck in their own eyes.  The pattern is universal. Self-righteousness turns to censoriousness, which produces a false benevolence (“Let me help you with that speck”), which in turn produces contempt.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–The Sermon on the Mount, 231)

 

In fact, his pursuit of others’ sins (which he regards as proof of his good standing with God) is like a plank of wood compared to a speck of sawdust.  He is guilty of the sin of censoriousness.  So deeply has his sin conquered him that he has become blind to it.  Sensitive to sin in others, he has been desensitized to the sin in his own heart.  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World, 152)

 

It takes a great deal of close peering to see a mote; but the censorious man sees only the mote, and sees it out of scale.  No matter how bright the eye, though it be clear as a hawk’s, its beauty is of no moment to him.  The mote magnified, and nothing but the mote, is his object; and he calls this one-sided exaggeration ‘criticism,’ and prides himself on the accuracy of his judgment.  He makes just the opposite mistake in his estimate of his own faults, if he sees them at all.  We look at our neighbor’s errors with a microscope, and at our own through the wrong end of a telescope.  We see neither their real magnitude, and the former mistake is sure to lead to the latter.  We have two sets of weights and measures: one for home use, the other for foreign.  Every vice has two names; and we call it by its flattering and minimizing one when we commit it, and by its ugly one when our neighbor does it.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Minor Prophets, 326)

 

Some years ago, Morgan Blake, a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal, wrote the following satire: “I am more deadly than the screaming shell from the howitzer.  I win without killing.  I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives.  I travel on the wings of the wind.  No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me.  I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless.  My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea, and often as innocent.  I never forget and seldom forgive.  My name is Gossip.  (George Sweeting, Faith That Works, 76-7)

 

III-  We must recognize and enforce discerning, discriminating, Bible based, God-honoring, sound judgment so as to not bring reproach (disgrace) on Jesus and the Gospel.  (Mt 7:6; see also: Prv 3:21; 6:32; 7:7; 8:14; 9:4, 16; 10:13, 21; 11:11-13; 12:11; 15:21; 17:18; 18:1; 24:30; Mt 18:6; Mk 9:42; Lk 19:41-42; 1 Cor 6:1-5; 10:15; 14:24; Gal 1:8-12; 5:12; Phil 3:2; 1 Tm 1:3-7; 6:3-5; Ti 3:10-15; Heb 4:12; 2 Pt 2:22 {ch 2}; 1 Jn 4:1-18;  ) (AKA Church Discipline; Mt 18:15-18; Rom 15:1ff; 16:17; 1 Cor 5:1-12; 16:22; 2 Cor 6:14-15; Gal 6:1-2; 1 Thess 5:14; 2 Thess 3:6, 14-15; 1 Tm 1:19-20; 5:20; 2 Tm 4:2; Ti 1:10-13; 2:15; 3:10-11; 2 Jn 10-11)

 

If people have had plenty of opportunity to hear the truth but do not respond to it, if they stubbornly turn their backs on Christ, if (in other words) they cast themselves in the role of ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’, we are not to go on and on with them, for then we cheapen God’s gospel by letting them trample it under foot.  Can anything be more depraved than to mistake God’s precious pearl for a thing of no worth and actually to tread it into the mud?  At the same time to give people up is a very serious step to take.  I can think of only one or two occasions in my experience when I have felt it was right.  This teaching of Jesus is for exceptional situations only; our normal Christian duty is to be patient and persevere with others, as God has patiently persevered with us.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 183)

 

‘Do not judge,’ Jesus says. ‘But, on the other hand, do not be insensitively undiscriminating.’  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World, 154)

 

There is to be universal preaching of the kingdom of God.  Men and women everywhere must be urged to repent and believe the gospel.  But that is not a command to engage mindlessly in evangelism.  There are those who obviously and stubbornly reject the gospel.  They trample the pearls of the message like pigs, Jesus says, and may then do the same to you.  You must be sensitive to that kind of response, and recognize the indications that the time has come to offer the gospel to others elsewhere.  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World, 154)

 

A man can only understand what he is fit to understand.  It is not to everyone that we can lay bare the secrets of our hearts.  There are always those to whom the preaching of Christ will be foolishness, and in whose minds the truth, when expressed in words, will meet an insuperable barrier.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1, 269)

 

Jesus Himself locked His lips before Herod, although the curious ruler asked many questions; and we have sometimes to remember that there are people who ‘will not hear the word,’ and who must first ‘be won without the word.’  Heavy rains run off hard-baked earth.  It must first be softened by a gentle drizzle.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture–Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Minor Prophets, 329)

 

It is easy to see how this new danger arises.  The disciple of Jesus has been told to love his neighbor as himself, and to love his enemies.  He is to mirror God’s graciousness, the God who even-handedly sends his rain upon both the just and unjust.  He has just been told never to adopt a judgmental mentality.  As a result, he is in chronic danger of becoming wishy-washy, of refusing legitimate distinctions between truth and error, good and evil.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 112)

 

We will never possess true discernment until we crucify our instincts to judge.  Realistically, this can take months or even years of uprooting old thought-systems that have not been planted in the divine soil of faith and love for people.  To appropriate the discernment which is in the “mind of Christ” (see 1 Cor 2:16), we must first find the heart of Christ.  The heart and love of Jesus is summed up in His own words:  “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (Jn 12:47).   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 73-4)

 

The fall of man involved the entirety of man; all aspects of his personality were corrupted by sin.  As a result, reason is not the judge of truth; only God can act as such a judge.  Moreover, sin has so affected mankind that even rational abilities are not neutral.  Christians seek to use their reason in dependence on God.  Non-Christians seek to be independent in their thinking; there is no neutral ground on which to deal with unbelief.  Human reason can be as much a hindrance as a help to faith in Christ.  As St. Augustine once said, “Believe that you may understand.”  To rest our faith on independent reason is to rebel against God.  Reason must rest on our faith commitment to Christ and our faith must rest on God alone. (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 74)

 

In America we do not defer to kings, cardinals, or aristocrats; we rely instead on the people’s capacity to make reasonable judgments based on moral principles.

Those who constantly invoke the sentiment of “who are we to judge?” should consider the anarchy that would ensue if we adhered to this sentiment in, say, our courtrooms.  Should judges judge?  What would happen if those sitting on a jury decided to be “nonjudgmental” about rapists and sexual harassers, embezzlers and tax cheats?  Without being “judgmental,” Americans would never have put an end to slavery, outlawed child labor, emancipated women, or ushered in the civil rights movement.  Nor would we have prevailed against Nazism and Soviet communism, or known how to explain our opposition. (William J. Bennett; The Death of Outrage, 121)

 

Biblical authority must never depend on human verification for it is the unquestionable Word of God.

The problem with much of the popular tactics used by many defenders of the faith today may be summed up as a problem of authority.  The apologist must see clearly that the nonChristian is in need of forsaking his commitment to independence and should turn in faith to the authority of Christ.  If however, trust in Christ is founded on logical consistency, historical evidence, scientific arguments, etc., then Christ is yet to be received as the ultimate authority.  The various foundations are more authoritative than Christ himself. . . . if beliefs in Christian truth comes only after the claims of Christ are run through the verification machine of independent human judgment, then human judgment is still thought to be the ultimate authority.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 79-80)

 

We ought not fail to note that five verses are reserved for judgmental people, and only one for undiscerning people.  That ratio reflects an accurate assessment of where the greater danger lies.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 112)

 

The two animals together serve as a model of people who are savage, vicious, held in abomination.  These two are brought together again in 2 Pt 2:22, in an equally negative context: “Of them [certain people] the proverbs are true:  ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’”  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 112)

 

Jesus is commanding his disciples not to share the richest parts of spiritual truth with persons who are persistently vicious, irresponsible, and unappreciative.  Just as the pearls were unappreciated by the savage animals, but only enraged them and made them dangerous, so also many of the riches of God’s revelation are unappreciated by many people.  And, painful as it is to see it, these rich truths may only serve to enrage them.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 113)

 

As the ministers of the Gospel, and those who are called to the office of teaching, cannot distinguish between the children of God and swine, it is their duty to present the doctrine of salvation indiscriminately to all.  Though many may appear to them, at first, to be hardened and unyielding, yet charity forbids that such persons should be immediately pronounced to be desperate.  It ought to be understood, that dogs and swine are names given not to every kind of debauched men, or to those who are destitute of the fear of God and of true godliness, but to those who, by clear evidences, have manifested a hardened contempt of God, so that their disease appears to be incurable.  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVI, 349)

 

Jesus always called spade a spade.  His outspokenness led him to call Herod Antipas ‘that fox’ and hypocritical scribes and Pharisees ‘whitewashed tombs’ and a ‘brood of vipers’.  Here he affirms that there are certain human beings who act like animals and may therefore be accurately designated ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 180)

 

So then the ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’ with whom we are forbidden to share the gospel pearl are not just unbelievers.  They must rather be those who have had ample opportunity to hear and receive the good news, but have decisively–even defiantly–rejected it.  ‘It ought to be understood’, Calvin wisely continued, ‘that dogs and swine are names given not to every kind of debauched men, or to those who are destitute of the fear of God and of true godliness, but to those who, by clear evidences, have manifested a hardened contempt of God, so that their disease appears to be incurable.’  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 182)

 

A Jew, as Jesus suggests by the language used in this verse, would not invite a pagan to share his religious feasts, for that would be like throwing meat consecrated for sacrifice to an unclean pariah-dog.  Nor would he risk the jibes of his Gentile neighbors, by placing before them spiritual ‘food’ which they could not assimilate; for that would be like trying to feed unclean pigs with pearls, the only result being that the pigs, finding the pearls inedible, trample them under foot and turn savagely upon the donors.  (R.V.G. Tasker, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries–The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 80)

 

It is not everybody to whom it is wise to open our minds on spiritual matters.  There are many who, from violent tempers or openly profligate habits, are utterly incapable of valuing the things of the Gospel.  They will even fly into a passion and run into greater excesses of sin if we try to do good to their souls.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 49)

 

If our Lord had finished His teaching with those first five verses, it would have undoubtedly led to a false position.  Men and women would be so careful to avoid the terrible danger of judging in that wrong sense that they would exercise no discrimination, no judgment whatsoever.  There would be no such thing as discipline in the Church, and the whole of the Christian life would be chaotic.  There would be no such thing as exposing heresy and pronouncing judgment with regard to it.  Because everybody would be so afraid of judging the heretic, they would turn a blind eye to the heresy; and error would come into the Church more than it has done.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 446-7)

 

What is this holy thing, this pearl to which He is referring?  It is clearly the Christian message, the message of the kingdom, the very thing about which He is speaking Himself in this incomparable Sermon.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 448)

 

There is not a single statement in Scripture that gives a more awful picture of the devastating effect of sin upon man as this verse.  The effect of sin and evil upon man as the result of the Fall is to make us, with respect to the truth of God, dogs and swine.  That is the effect of sin upon man’s nature; it gives him an antagonism to truth.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 452)

 

If I am told that I have to discriminate in speaking to people about these things, if I have to differentiate between type and type and person and person, and about the particular truth I give to each, is it a good thing to put the whole Bible within reach of people who can be described as spiritual dogs and swine?  May it not sometimes lead to blasphemy and cursing and to behavior and conduct of swinish character?  Is it always right, I wonder, to put certain texts of Scripture on placards, especially those referring to the blood of Christ?  I have often, myself, heard those very things leading to blasphemy.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 454)

 

What does Jesus Christ mean when he points out this hypocritical attitude which so many have toward others?  Well, it is certain that he does not mean that we are not to exercise proper spiritual discrimination, for the very next verse (v. 6) says that we are to use true judgment when dispensing spiritual things.  Moreover, he does not mean that we are to forego discipline in the church or that we are not able to separate the truth of the gospel from falsehood.  We are told to do each of these things at several other places in the New Testament.  No, Jesus is simply pointing to a general human tendency to see the faults of our neighbors while blithely overlooking our own.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Sermon on the Mount, 225)

 

And after Jesus rose from the dead He showed Himself to no one who was not a believer.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 438)

 

All of us may learn a cultural lesson from the Chinese people.  They have the custom of not answering a speaker until he is completely finished speaking.  They think that it is discourteous to reply immediately, for a rash reply indicates a lack of thinking and poor judgment.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: James, 113)

 

Paul went to Mars Hill, to the cultural center of Athens, and engaged in a dispute with the philosophers.  When He was finished, some embraced what He said, some mocked Him, and others wanted to hear more.  For those who responded, Paul had all the time in the world; for those who wanted to hear more, he would talk to them and answer every question he could; but for those who abjectly refused to hear the gospel, he did not spend any more time with them.  He left them to God.  Perhaps they would really hear the truth at another time from someone else.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 191)

 

Do you see what Jesus is saying?  A “brother” is a believer and a “dog/pig” an unbeliever, though not just your average unbeliever but an antagonistic one (cf. 2 Pt 2:22).  Our Lord says in essence, “Now listen, Christian, you need to be discerning here.  Don’t take the gospel of the kingdom (what he labels ‘pearls’) and present it to those who are overly antagonistic toward it.  Not only will they not appreciate it, they will be upset at you for throwing them a jewel when all they want is slop.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 188)

 

We are not to feed the dogs.  We are not to play with pigs.  We are to see that some people want nothing to do with us and our gospel.  And so, with sorrow in our hearts and tears in our eyes, like our Lord himself (see Lk 19:41, 42), we are to leave them to themselves, and ultimately to the hands of God.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 188-9)

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: Why is Jesus concerned we have a proper view of judging?

  1. We can’t live as fulfilled, godly humans without judging. (The entire Bible is asking you to make judgements about God, yourself and the world)

 

Many have taken this metaphor to mean that Christians should never correct anyone–one’s personal sins before God are too great to even consider dealing with others’ sins.  However, Jesus’ point was that while we all have sin in our lives (some as small as a speck; some as large as a log), we are responsible to both deal with our own sin and then help others.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 130)

 

Only God knows all the circumstances and factors involved, therefore only He can make a right and fair assessment.  There is always another side to every story.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 40)

 

Much of the confusion here is resolved when the semantic range of the Greek word translated “judge” is understood.  “To judge” can mean to discern, to judge judicially, to be judgmental, to condemn (judicially or otherwise).  The context must determine the precise shade of meaning.  The context here argues that the verse means, “Do not be judgmental.”  Do not adopt a critical spirit, a condemning attitude.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 106)

 

The simple question is thus:  how can we put all these injunctions into practice if we are not exercising judgment, if we are not thinking, if we have not a standard, if we are not prepared to make an assessment?  These are a few selections out of a large number of Scriptures which we could quote, but they are sufficient to prove that our Lord’s statement cannot be interpreted as meaning that we must never judge, never arrive at conclusions and apply them.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 430)

 

Christians have an obligation to exercise critical judgment!  What Christ means when he says “Do not judge” is that we are to refrain from hypercritical, condemning judgment.  There is a universe of difference between being discerningly critical and hypercritical.  A discerning spirit is constructive.  A hypercritical spirit is destructive.  The person with a destructive, overcritical spirit revels in criticism for its own sake.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–The Sermon on the Mount, 229)

 

“If the God of life does not respond to the culture of death (21st century western civilization – abortion) with judgment, then God is not God.   If God does not honor the blood of hundreds of millions of innocent victims of this culture of death, then the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, the God of Israel, the God of the prophets, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale, a comfortable ideal as substantial as a dream.

But, you may object:  Is not the God of the Bible forgiving?

He is!  But, the unrepentant refuse forgiveness.  Forgiveness being a gift of grace, must be freely given and freely received.  How can it be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive, except unforgiveness; nothing to judge but judgmentalism; nothing lacking but self-esteem?  How can a Pharisee or a pop-psychologist be saved?

But, you might object:  Is not the God of the Bible compassionate?

He is!   But, He is not compassionate to Molech and Baal and Ashtoreth, and to the Canaanites who do their work, who cause their children to pass through the fire.  Perhaps your god is compassionate to the work of human sacrifice, the god of your demands, the god of your religious preferences.  But, not the God of the Bible.  Read the Book.  Look at the data. (Peter Kreeft lecture, “Culture War” )

 

Our individual lives unfold in the context of our society, and there can be little doubt that our society is in a spiritual free fall.  The moral certainties around which we organized our lives are being replaced with the notion that sin and guilt are archaic.

Suddenly, the highest value is not having any values at all.  The blind-minded toleration of evil has become a virtue.  The greater wrong is not doing wrong but being offended by it.

…Steve Forbes: “We are learning the hard way that a self-governing nation must consist of self-governing individuals.  A breakdown in the moral fabric of society has dire consequences.”

…“To believe in the randomness of man’s appearance on the earth…would be to deny the existence of fixed moral truths…In such a world, no one could judge with authority what is right or wrong because everyone would be entitled to his own personal systems of values…That would elevate jungle law.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, in Vol. 1 of “Democracy in America”: …“liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

George Washington, in his farewell address:  “…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Thomas Jefferson:  “Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are the gift of God?”

John Adams:  “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Will & Ariel Durant, in their book, The Lessons of History:  “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”  (Excerpts from Linda Bowles’ America is Losing its Morals  The Messenger, January 10, 1998)

 

Pluralization in turn has given birth to the loss of reason, generating evil toward those whom we choose to hate.  Privatization kills meaning and gives rise to evil against ourselves because the alienation within mutilates the soul.  No event in recent memory better encapsulates this threefold evil with which we now live than the trial of the football icon O.J. Simpson, charged with the murder of his estranged wife, one whom he claimed to love.  The emotionally laden trial that gave opportunity for every trick in the book ultimately led to his acquittal.  He was found not guilty by the introduction of ideas that fostered hate in our ethnically diverse culture.

But the ultimate irrationality has to be the statement made by one of his attorneys, Robert Shapiro, in his interview with television talk-show host Larry King.  When Shapiro was asked by King what he personally felt about his client’s guilt or innocence, he answered, “It does not  matter what I think…What I believe is something that really is of no importance, and I will tell you why.  That’s a moral judgment.  And I can’t make moral judgments.  I can make professional judgments.

Does Shapiro need to be told that the decision to make only a professional judgment rather than a moral judgment is itself a moral judgment?  One must wonder whether such heartless cruelty would pass off as magnanimity if he sat where the parents of Nicole Brown Simpson sat or if it were his own son or daughter who had been murdered.  Ah!  But privatization has done its work in his mind.  He lives under the illusion that his disconnected belief is a medal of professional excellence, failing to realize the conscience-destroying lie to which he has sold himself.   (Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil: Restoring the Soul in a Disintegrating Culture, 114)

 

  1. People can’t live with us if we have an ungodly, perverted, self-centered view of judging. (Prv 11:12-13; 18:1; Rom 2:8; 1 Cor 10:24; 13:5; Jam 3:16)

 

I am not for a moment suggesting that any man who burns with anger against unrighteousness is a hypocrite.  God alone knows the heart of each man.  But what is clear in David’s case, and implied in Jesus’ teaching, is that to have strong feelings about the sins of others that are not matched by a ruthless dealing with our own sins is hypocrisy.  And further, outbursts of anger can be the expressions of a heart that does not know how to say, ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I.’  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World, 153)

 

We have a fatal tendency to exaggerate the faults of others and minimize the gravity of our own.  We seem to find it impossible, when comparing ourselves with others, to be strictly objective and impartial.  On the contrary, we have a rosy view of ourselves and a jaundiced view of others.  Indeed, what we are often doing is seeing our own faults in others and judging them vicariously.  That way, we experience the pleasure of self-righteousness without the pain of penitence.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 178)

 

Censoriousness is a compound sin consisting of several unpleasant ingredients.  It does not mean to assess people critically, but to judge them harshly.  The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people and enjoys actively seeking out their failings.  He puts the worst possible construction on their motives, pours cold water on their schemes and is ungenerous towards their mistakes.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 176)

 

It is easy to see how powerful and dangerous the temptation to be judgmental can be.  The challenge to be holy has been taken seriously, and a fair degree of discipline, service, and formal obedience have been painstakingly won.  Now, I tell myself, I can afford to look down my long nose at my less disciplined peers and colleagues.  Or perhaps I have actually experienced a generous measure of God’s grace, but somehow I have misconstrued it and come to think that I have earned it.  As a result I may look askance at those whose vision, in my view, is not as large as my own; whose faith is not as stable; whose grasp of the deep truths of God not as masterful; whose service record is not as impressive (in men’s eyes, at least); whose efforts have not been as substantial.  These people are diminished in my eyes; I consider their value as people inferior to my own value.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 104-5)

 

I used to think that those who most needed Mt 7:1-5 were young people, especially students.  They are struggling to establish their own identities, trying to come to terms with new ideas.  These new ideas are quickly espoused and stoutly defended or as quickly rejected and unthinkingly mocked.  But young people and students are far from being the only ones who go through periods of identity crisis and of critical exposure to new thinking.  Older people, fearful of their positions, concerned with their prestige, and often disturbed by what they take to be the lack of productivity in their lives, often become singularly defensive, rigid, judgmental, intolerant, even nasty and petty.  The young, at least, may grow out of it; but for the old to reject such a long-established pattern of behavior may take a dramatic display of divine intervention, perhaps in the form of a crushing, devastating experience that engenders humility.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 111)

 

Few things are more exhausting and debilitating than harsh, unloving criticism.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–The Sermon on the Mount, 228)

 

An inseparable corollary of justifying oneself is condemning others.  When anyone elevates himself, everyone else is lowered accordingly.  The Pharisees were doing all they could to lift themselves up in their own eyes, including acting as spiritual judges by condemning others.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 430)

 

Judgment is actually an ego trip.  We usually judge others to make ourselves feel better.  One who develops a judgmental attitude estranges himself from others, hinders the spirit of fellowship and creates a reaction of judgment in return.  (Myron S Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary–Matthew, 96)

 

“Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally–I do not mean figuratively, but literally–impossible for us to figure what that loss would be if these teachings were removed.  We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards towards which we, with more or less of resolution, strive to raise ourselves.”  (Theodore Roosevelt)

 

Americans tend to define tolerance as moral neutrality–refusing to judge any behavior right or wrong.  The classic definition of tolerance, however, is profoundly judgmental:  It means putting up with people even when we know they’re wrong.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 153)

 

Slander and judging is telling the truth to punish rather than redeem.  People say, “I want to tell the truth, I went and gave criticism.

James says, “that tells me nothing about whether you have done that as a Christian.”

Well, shouldn’t a Christian tell the truth?”

James says, “Sure.  But, why did you tell the truth?  And, how did you tell the truth?”

Slander and judging is using the truth to punish.  A judge is not a parent or a brother or sister.  A judge’s job is to get rid of somebody.  A judge’s job is to repay.  A judge’s job is an eye for an eye.  That’s a judge’s job. . . .

     Slander and judging is to speak from a morally superior position.  To talk down.  To belittle.  Rather than as an equal.

Let me put it to you one more way.

Slander and judging is telling the truth to push a person away rather than pull them in.  Push them away rather than get them closer.    (Tim Keller message,  “Communication”)

 

I have at times slipped into the sin of judgmentalism.  I disagree so strongly with what they are teaching that I sometime demonize them.  I don’t think that I am alone in this sin.  (Alistair Begg sermon, Only One Judge)

 

Slander and judgmentalism are synonymous.  (Alistair Begg sermon, Only One Judge)

 

Signs you have a judgmental or Slanderous spirit:

1-     When you criticize another they are ALWAYS crushed and destroyed.  You are never able to redeem when you criticize.

2-     If you have a fault finding habit of mind.  You judge before you have all the facts.

3-     You enjoy hearing about other people’s faults.  Why do you enjoy hearing about the faults or problems of others?  Because you have a judgmental, slanderous spirit.

4-     When you go beyond the facts and impute motives to people all the time.  (Tim Keller message, “Communication”)

 

The poisonous lies of Laban’s sons against Jacob drove him and his family out of the land and devastated Laban’s own home and family life (Gn 31).  The venomous tongue of Doeg the Edomite lying to King Saul about David and Ahimelech the priest resulted in the brutal massacre of 85 priests as well as the entire priestly city of Nob (1 Sm 22:9-19).  The deceitful princes of Ammon also lied about David, accusing him of hypocrisy in honoring Nahash their king and Hanun, his son of his own soldiers, along with Aramean mercenaries, for which some 700 charioteers and 40,000 horsemen and their commander were needlessly slaughtered by David’s forces–all because of a lie!  (2 Sm 10).  When Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to King Ahab, Queen Jezebel conspired to have two men falsely accuse Naboth of blasphemy, which resulted in his being stoned to death (1 Kgs 21:1-13).  As recorded in the book of Esther, Satan attempted to use the lies of Haman to exterminate exiled Jews in Medo-Persia, but was thwarted by Esther and her cousin, Mordecai.  Our Lord Himself was put to death because of lies (Mt 26:57-60).  Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death because he was falsely accused of blaspheming Moses and God (Acts 6:8-7:60).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 159)

 

  1. By loving others (being critical of ourselves and gracious to others) we usher in God’s Kingdom here on earth when we understand and implement Jesus’ teaching on judging.   (Mt 18:15-20; Jn 5:30; 7:24; 8:15-16; Rom 12:3; chps 14 & 15; esp 14:1, 10, 13; 1 Cor 6:1-5; Gal 6:12-2; Phil 2:3;  Col 3:12-14; 1 Pt 4:8)

 

There are two reasons why Christ forbade that the Gospel should be offered to lost despisers.  It is an open profanation of the mysteries of God to expose them to the taunts of wicked men.  Another reason is, that Christ intended to comfort his disciples, that they might not cease to bestow their labors on the elect of God in teaching the Gospel, though they saw it wantonly rejected by wicked and ungodly men.  His meaning is; lest this inestimable treasure should be held in little estimation, swine and dogs must not be permitted to approach it.  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVI, 350)

 

The Didache, or, to give it its full name, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which dates back to A.D. 100 and which is the first service order book of the Christian Church, lays it down:  “Let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist except those baptized into the name of the Lord; for, as regards this, the Lord has said, ‘Give not that which is holy unto dogs.’” It is Tertullian’s complaint that the heretics allow all kinds of people, even the heathen, into the Lord’s Supper, and by so doing, “That which is holy they will cast to the dogs, and pearls (although to be sure, they are not real ones) to swine” (De Praescriptione 41).  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1, 266-7)

 

Cecil Northcott in A Modern Epiphany tells of a discussion in a camp of young people where representatives of many nations were living together.  “One wet night the campers were discussing various ways of telling people about Christ.  They turned to the girl from Africa. ‘Maria,’ they asked, ‘what do you do in your country?’ ‘Oh,’ said Maria, ‘we don’t have missions or give pamphlets away.  We just send one or two Christian families to live and work in a village, and when people see what Christians are like, then they want to be Christians too.’” In the end the only all-conquering argument is the argument of a Christian life.  It is often impossible to talk to some people about Jesus Christ.  Their insensitiveness, their moral blindness, their intellectual pride, their cynical mockery, the tarnishing film, make them impervious to words about Christ.  But it is always possible to show men Christ; and the weakness of the Church lies not in lack of Christian arguments, but in lack of Christian lives.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1, 269)

 

We should not stop giving God’s Word to unbelievers, but we should be wise and discerning so as not to bring scorn to God’s message.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 132)

 

We have repeatedly heard his call to be different from the world around us, in that we are to develop a righteousness which exceeds that of the Pharisees, to do ‘more than others’ in the standard of love we adopt, not to be like the hypocrites in our piety or like the heathen in our ambition.  But how can we possibly obey all this teaching unless we first evaluate the performance of others and then ensure that ours is different from and higher than theirs?  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 176)

 

To sum up, the command to judge is not a requirement to be blind, but rather a plea to be generous.  Jesus does not tell us to cease to be men (by suspending our critical powers which help to distinguish us from animals) but to renounce the presumptuous ambition to be God (by setting ourselves up as judges).  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 177)

 

Make no judgments where you have no compassion.  (Anne McCaffrey)

 

“They have a right to censure that have a heart to help.” (William Penn) (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 129)

 

What our Lord means to condemn is a censorious and fault-finding spirit.  A readiness to blame others for trifling offenses or matters of indifference, a habit of passing rash and hasty judgments, a disposition to magnify the errors and infirmities of our neighbors and make the worst of them–this is what our Lord forbids.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 48)

 

Why do we not cast pearls before swine?  Because it is inappropriate to do so.  The person who does so does not understand either the value of pearls or the nature of pigs!  Yet, how often we find Christians engaged in activities, or behaving in a fashion altogether inappropriate for the gospel or for their position as believers.  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World, 155)

 

By our actions, we are really conveying an unspoken message that the gospel belongs to a past generation, or is permanently enshrined in some ancient tradition.  But Christ and the gospel are always contemporary.  We need to see to it that we live, speak, act and witness in ways that are appropriate to him and to our times.  (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World, 156)

 

“When we call sin “not sin” we burn the bridge back to God because we can’t repent of something we don’t think is wrong.”   (Steve Brown)

 

Here, again, we do well to try to follow the example of the Teacher himself.  It is eminently profitable to examine his approach to different individuals and groups.  He can dismiss a group (as we have seen him to do, in Mt 15:14), write off a Herod (Lk 13:31-33), promise judgment to whole cities (Mt 11:20-24); but he can be patient with a group (see Lk 9:51-55; Mk 6:31-34), offer indisputable evidence to a doubting Thomas (Jn 20:24ff.), and weep over a city (Lk 19:41ff.).  Christians dare not decide which side of Jesus’ reactions they will follow most closely; they must follow both.  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 114-5)

 

But you also find the same teaching in the Scriptures with regard to the Church.  They show very clearly that judgment is to be exercised in the realm of the Church.  This is worthy of an entire study on its own, because, owing to our flabby ideas and notions, it is almost true to say that such a thing as discipline in the Christian Church is nonexistent today.  When did you last hear of a person being excommunicated?  When did you last hear of a person being kept back from the Communion Table?  Go back to the history of Protestantism and you will find that the Protestant definition of the Church is, ‘that the Church is a place in which the Word is preached, the Sacraments are administered, and discipline is exercised’.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 429)

 

Doctrinal critics can be among the most offensive in this regard.  The doctrinal critic may agree that another person is a brother in Christ, has been significantly used of the Lord, is thoughtful and sincere in his submission to Scripture; but because the critic focuses on the one area of doctrine in which the two disagree, this other brother may be painted publicly in hues of gray and black.  That Christians are to demonstrate observable love (Jn 13:34f.; 17:20-23) is lost to view while the critic “defends the truth.”  (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World, 110)

 

Undoubtedly, we should be willing to encourage one another and point out sinful habits in others, but only after a time of reflection on the ways that sin is present in our own life.  And then, even when we do that, all of our correction, all of our admonition, and all of our encouragement should be seasoned with love, grace, and evident humility.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition–Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 99)

 

We now see, that the design of Christ was to guard us against indulging excessive eagerness, or peevishness, or malignity, or even curiosity, in judging our neighbors.  He who judges according to the word and law of the Lord, and forms his judgment by the rule of charity, always begins with subjecting himself to examination, and preserves a proper medium and order in his judgments.  (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVI, 346)

 

Nowadays, “moralizing” is a dirty word in public education, and the consensus on what constitutes good and evil has contracted:  for a regnant educational elite, moral tolerance is now the only good, and moral intolerance the only evil.  In the kingdom of the elite, classroom wars between good and evil thin down to angry border skirmishes between the politically correct and the politically challenged.  The politically challenged are, of course, those doofuses who still use short words when they talk–words like good, bad, right, and wrong.  The politically correct, on the other hand, prefer more leisurely and ironic expressions.  To be sure, the politically correct (e.g., those who describe a lazy person as “motivationally dispossessed” and prostitutes as “sex care providers”) are still willing to make moral judgments–but only of those who make moral judgments.  They say things like this:  “It is always wrong to make moral judgments.”   (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 100-1)

 

Those whom we judge as tares by our own understanding may well be wheat and vice versa.  That is why the Lord instructed us to let the wheat and tares grow together until the harvest.  Until there is maturity, the wheat and tares may look so much alike that it will be almost impossible to tell them apart.  Both may be arrogant; they may both even have false concepts or teaching or fall into sin occasionally.  The difference will only be obvious when they both mature.  During the harvest, wheat will bow over, while the tares remain standing upright.  When wheat matures, it becomes humble, but those who are in fact tares will continue in their pride.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 188-9)

 

Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24).  Righteous judgment is the direct result of love.  If you cannot pray in love for a person or the church, do not presume you have true discernment.  Love precedes peace, and peace precedes perception.  Without love and peace in your heart, your judgment will be overly harsh.  Regardless of the smile upon your face, your heart will have too much anger.  False discernment is always slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 81)

 

Jesus turns to the world and says, “I’ve got something to say to you.   On the basis of my authority, I give you a right:  you may judge whether or not an individual is a Christian on the basis of the love he shows to all Christians.”  (Jn 13:33-35) . . .  If I fail in my love toward Christians, it does not prove I am not a Christian.   What Jesus is saying, however, is that, if I do not have the love I should have toward all other Christians, the world has the right to make the judgement that I am not a Christian. (Francis Schaeffer; The Mark of the Christian, 13-4)

 

The procedure of getting a mote out of an eye is a very difficult operation.  There is no organ that is more sensitive than the eye.  The moment the finger touches it, it closes up; it is so delicate.  What you require above everything else in dealing with it is sympathy, patience, calmness, coolness.  That is what is required, because of the delicacy of the operation.  Transfer all that into the spiritual realm.  You are going to handle a soul, you are going to touch the most sensitive thing in man.  How can we get the little mote out?  There is only one thing that matters at that point, and that is that you should be humble, you should be sympathetic, you should be so conscious of your own sin and your own unworthiness, that when you find it in another, far from condemning, you feel like weeping.  You are full of sympathy and compassion; you really do want to help.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 444)

 

Not to rebuke sin is a form of hatred, not love.  “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor” (Lv 19:17).  Refusing to warn a person about his sin is just as unloving as refusing to warn him about a serious disease he may have.  A person who does not warn a friend about his sin cannot claim love as his motive (see Mt 18:15).  The author of Hebrews calls for a level of spiritual maturity wherein Christians “because of practice have their sense trained to discern good and evil” (5:14).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 432)

 

Charles Simeon (19th century believer) had these words about judgmentalism:

1-   To hear as little as possible what is to the prejudice of others

2-   To believe nothing of the kind until I am absolutely forced to it.

3-   Never to drink into the spirit of one who circulates an ill report.

4-  Always to moderate as far as I can the unkindness which is expressed towards others.

5-   Always to believe, that if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.  (Alistair Begg)  (Charles Simeon sermon, Only One Judge)

 

  1. When we see the heart of God and understand our hearts we can be honest and bold enough to honestly evaluate our critics and our criticisms. (Prv 4:23; 17:10; 13:18; 12:1; Mt 5:3-10; 12:33-37; 15:18-19; 1 Cor 2:15; 4:3-5; 11:31-32; Jam 2:12-13; 3:1-12; 1 Pt 2:23)

 

We are to judge ourselves–“take the plank out of your own eye.”  Both the Old and New Testaments call us to do this.  And when we do it, we begin to see others as they are.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–The Sermon on the Mount, 231)

 

Most people feel free to judge others like this because they erroneously think they are somehow superior to others.  The Pharisees thought they were exempt from judgment because they believed they perfectly measured up to the divine standards.  The problem was that those were mere human standards that they, and others like them, had established far short of God’s holy and perfect law.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 434)

 

He first of all points out that we are not concerned about righteousness and true judgment at all, because if we were, we should deal with it in ourselves.  We like to persuade ourselves that we are really concerned about truth and righteousness, and that that is our only interest.  We claim that we do not want to be unfair to people, that we do not want to criticize, but that we are really concerned about truth!  Ah, says our Lord in effect, if you were really concerned about truth, you would be judging yourself.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 442)

 

When a man has truly seen himself he never judges anybody else in the wrong way.  All his time is taken up in condemning himself, in washing his hands and trying to purify himself.  There is only one way of getting rid of the spirit of censoriousness and hypercriticism, and that is to judge and condemn yourself.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 444)

 

It is a lesson, however, which ought to stir up a spirit of self-inquiry in all our hearts.  Do we ourselves never check our friends from giving us good advice, by being morose and irritable?  Have we never obliged others to hold their peace and say nothing, by being proud and contemptuous of their advice?  Have we never turned against our kind advisers, and silenced them by our violence and passion?  We may well fear that we have often erred in this matter.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 49)

 

There are three great reasons why no man should judge another.  We never know the whole facts or the whole person. . . . It is almost impossible for any man to be strictly impartial in his judgment.. . . But it was Jesus who stated the supreme reason why we should not judge others.  No man is good enough to judge any other man.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1, 264-5)  

 

The Pharisee made an odious and inaccurate comparison, magnifying both his own virtue and the publican’s vice.  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 178)

 

We have quite enough to do to rectify our own lives without seeking censoriously to rectify the lives of others.  We would do well to concentrate on our own faults, and to leave the faults of others to God.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1, 265)

 

The person who has the mind and attitude of the kingdom citizen–the person who is poor in spirit, humble, and who hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness (see Mt 5:3, 5-6)–will be the person who first of all sees and mourns over his own sin (see 5:4).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 436)

 

Life, as we perceive it, is based upon the condition of our heart.  This is very important because the gifts of the Spirit must pass through our hearts before they are presented to the world around us.  In other words, if our hearts are not right, the gifts will not be right either.

When the heart has unrest it cannot hear from God.  Therefore, we must learn to mistrust our judgment when our heart is bitter, angry, ambitious or harboring strife for any reason.  The Scriptures tell us to “let the peace of Christ rule [act as arbiter] in [our] hearts” (Col 3:15).  To hear clearly from God, we must first have peace.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 81-2)

 

Paul sought the favor of God, not of people.  His hard work was not to please those around him (Gal 1:10).  Nor was Paul terribly disturbed by criticism.  “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court…It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Cor 4:3-4).  Paul could afford to take lightly the comments and criticism of others, for his heart was owned by God (Col 3:22).  (J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 120)

 

A passage written by John Owen, one of the greatest Puritan scholars ever:  “The person who understands the evil in his own heart is the only person who is useful, fruitful, and solid in his beliefs and obedience.  Others only delude themselves and thus upset families, churches, and all other relationships.  In their self-pride and judgment of others, they show great inconsistency.”  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 64)

 

The tendency to excuse ourselves and quickly judge others is proof that pride has gripped our hearts.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 136)

 

All confrontation of sin in others must be done out of meekness, not pride.  We cannot play the role of judge–passing sentence as if we were God.  We cannot play the role of superior–as if we were exempt from the same standards we demand of others.  We must not play the hypocrite–blaming others while we excuse ourselves.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 437)

 

John Chrysostom once said, “Correct your brother, not as a foe, nor as an adversary, exacting a penalty, but as a physician.”  That is the perfect analogy.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all physicians (ah! the physicianhood of all believers!), and just as we should not be taken aback if a doctor were to tell us that something is wrong with our eye and that the cure “might hurt a bit,” so we should not be surprised by the sins our brothers and sisters see in us–specks that need to be seen and removed for our own spiritual health.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 190)

 

The tongue is neither friend nor foe.  It’s merely a messenger that delivers the dictates of a desperately sick heart.  So every time James uses the word tongue in our passage today (Jam 3:1-12), think heart.  (Charles R. Swindoll, James: Practical and Authentic Living, 101)

 

Worship Point:  Worship the God of the Universe whose every word speaks life into the world.

 

Gospel Application:  Realize your tongue reveals the status of your heart.   You need the Gospel to have the power to gain control over your heart.  (Psa 19:14; 141:3; Prv 4:23; 10:11, 19; 13:3; 15:28; 21:23; Mt 16:17-20; Mk 7:20-23; )

 

If a cup is filled only with good water, it cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how badly it is jarred.  –Oswald Chambers  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–James, 83)

 

Only Christ can change us as God changed the bitter water for the people of Israel at Marah (Ex 15:23-25).  This event is used repeatedly in Scripture as an illustration of the danger of complaining.  If the source of our thoughts and actions is the love of God in our life, then we will not be able to generate the kind of negative speech that James warns us against.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–James, 83)

 

There is nothing more ungodly than a critical spirit, and nothing more un-Christlike than the false righteousness that is always looking for something wrong in someone else.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word–The Sermon on the Mount, 230)

 

No person can tame the tongue, but Christ can.  To do it, he goes straight for the heart (Mk 7:14-15; Ps 51:10) and the mind (Rom 12:1-2).  We should not try to control our tongue with our own strength; we should rely on the Holy Spirit.  He will give us increasing power to monitor and control what we say.  For when we feel offended or unjustly criticized, the Spirit will remind us of God’s love and keep us from reacting.  The Holy Spirit will heal the hurt and keep us from lashing out.  We can make sure we are in the Spirit’s control by incorporating Scripture into our life and by asking the Spirit to direct our thoughts and actions each day.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–James, 80)

 

Jesus is speaking out against having a harsh judgment of people.  He is not asking that His people be naive; He is asking for the judgment of charity.  As Christians, we are those who are quick to charity and slow to condemnation.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 189)

 

That is what we ought to be–charitable to a fault.  The judgment of charity means that we interpret other people’s actions, particularly actions toward us, in the best of all possible lights.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 189)

 

Love covers a multitude of sins.  Love does not expose sin…Since we see that there are no positive motives for the criticism, and since the Lord says that the critic is a hypocrite, it follows that the critic is moved by envy, jealousy, selfishness, and all other evil motives that put the poison sac of the asp under the human tongue (Rom. 3:13).  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Sermon on the Mount, 227)

 

When we are filled with love we will find ourselves uninterested in finding specks in the eye of the other person.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Sermon on the Mount, 227)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Recognize those areas of your life where self still reigns.  Allow Jesus to reign in your life.  (Prv 13:3; Mt 12:33-37; Lk 6:43-45; Col 3:5-11; 1 Pt 2:1)

 

We cannot read the Bible without coming to the conclusion that the thing that really differentiates God’s people from all others is that they have always been people who walk in the consciousness of their eternal destiny.  The natural man does not care about his eternal future; to him this is the only world.  It is the only world he thinks about; he lives for it and it controls him.  But the Christian is a man who should walk through this life as conscious that it is but transient and passing, a kind of preparatory school.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 425)

 

 

Quotes to Note:

We are living in an age when definitions are at a discount, an age which is characterized by a love of ease and compromise–‘anything for a quiet life’, as the expression goes.  It is an age of appeasement.  That term is no longer popular in a political and international sense, but the mentality that delights in it persists.  It is an age that dislikes strong men because, it says, they always cause disturbance.  It dislikes a man who knows what he believes and really believes it.  It dismisses him as a difficult person who is ‘impossible to get on with’.  This can easily be illustrated, as I have suggested, in the political sphere.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 427)

 

It is significant that, though God is omniscient, He gives us many examples of the care we ourselves should take before making judgments, especially those that involve serious consequences.  Before He judged those who were building the tower of Babel, “The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built” (Gn 11:5).  Before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah He said, “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know” (Gn 18:21).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 432-3)

 

When an individual or a group of people develop their own standards of religion and morality, they inevitably judge everyone by those self-made beliefs and standards.  The scribes and Pharisees had done just that.  Over the previous several centuries they had gradually modified God’s revealed Word to suit their own thinking, inclinations, and abilities.  By Jesus’ time their tradition had taken such a hold on Judaism that it had actually replaced the authority of Scripture in the minds of many Jews (Mt 15:6; cf. 15:2).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 1-7, 430)

Christ:

the Pure Judge

 For more insight see HFM message June 30th, 2013 from James 3:1-12

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