Few things bring me to my knees with thanksgiving to God more than His great mercy and forgiveness by which I’ve been saved. Indeed, I am living proof that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). That same great mercy and forgiveness is also my drive and the fire that compels me to preach Christ to the world. That is why when I see the great destruction that is wrecked in the souls of people when Matthew 7:1 is abused I am filled with great sorrow. But I am filled with even more sorrow when I see very sincere brothers begin to close their ears to what Jesus really taught in Matthew 7:1 because of how abused it has been.
So I want to begin this by encouraging my brothers not to become defensive with Jesus’ teaching not to judge, but rather, to abide faithfully by it, and teach others to be faithful disciples of what Jesus taught in Mathew 7 as well.
And I invite you to read a previous post on this subject entitled, “understanding Matthew 7:1-2“, which addresses a few things we won’t be looking at here today.
“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you tell your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye?
Mercy is at the forefront of Jesus’ teaching here as His very clear desire is to spare us from coming under judgment and condemnation. Jesus’ desire is to protect us from the condemnation from God that befalls unrighteous judgment, He is not teaching us spiritual blindness.
That is why Satan’s handiwork in the perversion of this passage is so evident because it always leads into hypocrisy: everyone judges. No one lives without judging anyone, which is why the “judge me not” use of this passage always leads to hypocrisy. People judge police officers as evil for shooting innocent victims, they judge people for stealing, for rape, and for innumerable other personal offenses.
The truth is that the perverted use of this passage has one aim: to escape judgment for personal sin. It is our modern equivalent of sewing fig-leaves over our nakedness. And it is about as effective as that at covering our shame!
But I am less interested in how others pervert this text right now and how the important lesson Jesus is teaching us here is being swept under the rug by our tendency to sometimes react.
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.”
The Lord is addressing two issues here: first, the standard you use to judge (what law do you judge by) and, second, the heart by which you judge.
These are both incredibly important because God only recognizes one standard for righteousness (Jesus Christ) and has only appointed one measure to mete out victory over judgment (mercy).
The flesh hates to hear that the only standard for righteousness that is good enough for God resides out of its reach; for the flesh cannot please God and must be put to death first before we can receive the perfect righteousness of Christ.
So what standard do you use?
Is it a certain amount of time spent in prayer? Is it tithing? Is it charitable works, casting out demons, or evangelism? Education? Success?
By what standard are you judging others?
If your standard is tithing, will you or the widow be justified? If it is prayer, are your prayers disqualified by how you treat others? The problem with adopting standards that are not God’s standards is that He will judge us by them!
Here is the judgement that will befall this kind of unrighteous judgment: “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 2:3)
Let me encourage you to ask yourself, and more importantly, to ask God, “what is my standard?”
The second issue being addressed here is your the heart with which you judge.
So, what measure do you judge with?
Do you have a disposition that finds satisfaction in the condemnation of others? Are you eager to find the faults of others? Or do you not understand that these are the things that cause heart wrenching grief to the Holy Spirit?
This is demonstrated very well for us in the account found when Jesus’ time had come for Him to go to Jerusalem. He sent out messengers before Him to prepare the way, but, He was rejected in the Samaritan village because He was intent on going to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this they were outraged and said “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did? But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ So they went to another village” (Luke 9:55-56).
The eager disposition to bring condemnation on people who are in the wrong is not Christ’s disposition. Jesus was rejected, yet, He did not seek the destruction of men’s lives, even though they rejected Him! Therefore “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, God said, and so He does desire!
The lesson that Jesus taught us in Matthew 7 is immensely profound and desperately needed in the Church today. I pray that we will not flee from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7 because other people pervert the passage, but rather, we will rejoice all the more to instill the true lesson of this passage deep within our hearts.
Consider what standard you are using to judge, and what measure you use when judging. For I am certain that Jesus is being honest with His words when He says “for with what measure you use to others, the same will be used against you”!
I know that I want to be found on the judgment day having used the standard chosen by God for salvation with a measure that is full of mercy, patience, grace, hope, peace, and love!