Friday, June 23, 2017

Misquoting the Bible: Matthew 7:1

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Matthew 7:1-6
Probably the most misrepresented verse in the entire Bible by both Christians and non-Christians alike, their misuse of this verse by ripping it out of its context and misapplying it is rather ironic. Applying pure and simple logic, the person who presumes someone is being judgmental and references this verse is declaring a judgment upon that someone. Hypocrite much? By pronouncing another person as judgmental, they too have made a judgment. Furthermore, if this is truly what Jesus said and meant, it would be impossible to shepherd anyone. Jesus Himself is passing judgment on those who judge incorrectly.

When Christians and non-Christians misquote this verse as "Jesus said not to judge," they swing it like a gavel in order to initiate immediate cessation of discussion pertaining to another person's behaviour. They use it as a cop-out to escape what they do not want to talk about. Misinterpreting this verse in this way completely ignores and nullifies Jesus' teachings:
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." John 7:24 [cf. "You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly [righteously]." Leviticus 19:15]

"You will know them by their fruits. . . . you will know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:16-20

"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." Matthew 18:15-17

"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 17:3
Jesus clearly informs us to judge righteously, recognize and discern people's good actions from their evil actions, and to rebuke our brothers and sisters in Christ when they sin. In order to rebuke a brother or sister in Christ, we must first identify that they have sinned. In order to identify a person's sin, we must obviously first judge their behaviour. Without the authority to judge others' behaviours, there would be no permissible authority with which we could uphold governing laws, select leaders, choose teachers and childcare providers, discipline children, or even discern which Bible teachers are profitable for us to listen to. Our selections of spouses, friends, and business partners are all based on judgments of character and ethics. When Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits," He was telling us to discern between a person who bears fruit and a person who does not. However, we are not to judge those outside of the church (1 Cor. 5:12), only those who profess to be part of it.

Examine the context of Matthew 7:1-6. Matthew 7:1 is not a warning against judging any action or behaviour; it is a warning against self-deception, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy. Matthew 7:2-5 are informing us that if we are going to correct someone, we should expect to be held to the same standard. If you judge with gentleness, you will be judged gently; if you judge with harshness, you will be judged harshly. Do not criticize other people if you are not open to criticism yourself. Matthew 7:6 is a call to discernment, remembering that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent (Ecc. 3:7). Jesus does not command us to say nothing about our brother or sister's sin, nor does He prohibit us from pointing out our brother or sister's sin, or from assisting him or her in removing it.

The speck and the log are of the same essence—wood. This passage is saying the same thing as Paul says in Romans:
"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?" Romans 1:28-2:3
Just as Paul says here, Jesus is referring to the hypocrisy of casting judgment upon another person for a sin of the same essence as a sin that you yourself are guilty of committing. You must first overcome this sin in your own life, then you will be able to help your brother or sister to deal with it in their life. Jesus commands us to address this particular issue in our own life first, and then assist our brother or sister in Christ with love.
"Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." Galatians 6:1