Having a Right Focus in Connection with Social Things
Abuse of Judgment in Connection with Fellow Believers (7:1-5)
Offenses and perceived sin in our brethren (vv.1-5). Previously, the Lord had addressed persecution and offenses from the world, and with our enemies. But this is another matter, and in many ways a more serious difficulty. What if the one that offends you is a Christian? How do we deal with them? There is a difference in the way we deal with a believer and with an unbeliever. But these verses take up a matter that we must take care of before we touch the question of another’s conduct. We must guard against two attitudes in ourselves: (1) a hypercritical (judging) spirit, and (2) a hypocritical spirit.
¶ Judge not, that ye may not be judged; v.1 Judging motives. A hypercritical spirit is the habit or tendency to impute evil motives in that which we do not know and which does not meet the eye. This perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible by unbelievers. They misuse the scripture. This applies to judging what is concealed (1 Sam. 2:3). We have clear commands to judge what is open. We are to judge doctrine (1 Cor. 10:15), open sin (1 Cor. 5:12), disputes among brethren (1 Cor. 6:2), and the character of one’s ministry (1 Cor. 14:29). All these things are open. What do we not judge? We are not to judge the technicalities of a person’s actions merely by the appearance (John 7:24), someone’s personal convictions (Rom. 14:3), or someone’s service for the Lord (1 Cor. 4:3).
2 for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. v.2 Result: we incur God’s governmental judgment in our lives. We must deal with others – even those who have offended us – in love, for that is the basis of our relationship with God. The result of judging motives it that God will judge us. This is part of His government in our lives, similar to governmental forgiveness. Read more…
Godly Discernment vs. judging motives. There is such a thing as godly moral discernment by which a Christian can determine the direction of a movement by its spirit. William Kelly said, “There is more discernment in some than in others, and such ought peculiarly to watch against it. It is not that they are to have their eyes shut to what is evil; but they are not to suspect what is not uncovered, nor to go beyond the evidence God gives.”1 However, sometimes a brother or sister might be held in high esteem on account of great “moral discernment” when in reality they are hypercritical of others, imputing evil motives where there are none. Often this is the case when one is yielding to personal or party feelings. We need to judge everything prima facia.
3 But why lookest thou on the mote that is in the eye of thy brother, but observest not the beam that is in thine eye? v.3 Hypocrisy. When someone has a hypercritical spirit (proneness to judge), often they have a more serious problem of a hypocritical spirit. When evil is habitually unjudged, it makes a person restless, and eager to find fault with others. A “mote” is a speck of dust. A “beam” is a massive log or timber used in the building of structures. We can be quick to point out some small flaw in our brother, perhaps an idiosyncrasy that is disrupting to the assembly, while ignoring a serious sin in our own life. Hypocrisy is perhaps the worst type of sin in Christendom, because it brings shame on the name of Christ. Even the natural man despises hypocrisy.
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Allow me, I will cast out the mote from thine eye; and behold, the beam is in thine eye? v.4 Result: we will dim our own spiritual eyesight. Our moral discernment is clouded when we have not been judging ourselves, and not walking with God. We cannot judge with God when we are not right with Him.
5 Hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the mote out of the eye of thy brother. v.5 The cure for criticality: self-judgment. We need to pass judgment on ourselves first, before we can be a help to others. The Lord is not saying that we shouldn’t try to be a help to someone who has a problem. Rather, we should judge ourselves first, then be a help to others. Any effort to correct another person should be coupled with self-judgment (see Gal. 6:1). Often we find that when the beam is gone, the mote is nowhere to be seen, and we are sorry to find ourselves mistaken about our brother.
Abuse of Grace in Connection with Unbelievers (7:6)
¶ 6 Give not that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, lest they trample them with their feet, and turning round rend you. v.6 Casting our pearls before swine. This refers to bringing unholy individuals into the most sacred things of Christianity under the banner of grace. “Your pearls” might speak of what is most precious to Christians… worship, service, comfort, etc.2 “Dogs” are unsaved, “swine” are morally degraded, usually false professors (2 Pet. 2:22). The “trampling of pearls” refers to the dishonor that is done to the Name of Christ. “Turning round and rending” refers to the confusion and corruption that has invaded the kingdom of heaven because we have not maintained the distinction between holy and unholy. Take, for example, service and worship (Phip. 3)… unsaved persons cannot worship, and God doesn’t want their service. Christendom has a system which unites believers and unbelievers in one common form. The point is, there must be a separation between believers and the world. If a person is still in their sins, they are standing on the “wrong side” of the cross, they are still crying “away with him, crucify him”. We cannot try to enjoy Christ with someone that is malicious or even indifferent toward Him. What they need is the gospel. An example of one who failed in this is Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:13), who displayed his precious things to the embassage from Babylon. However, this exhortation in Matthew does not prevent us from spreading the gospel to the lost. We were all at one time unholy like the “dogs” and “swine”, and would still be enemies if it weren’t for the grace of God (1 Cor. 6:11). So we have the commandment to preach the gospel of the grace of God to the lost. Here are a few examples of things to be careful of, (but not to make a law of of them):
- Joining together with false professors (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses) in outreach or prayer. Unity at the expense of holiness is nothing more than an unholy alliance.
- Comforting an unsaved co-worker that “all things work together for good”… that’s only true for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
- Speaking about God’s sovereignty to the lost. We need to stick to man’s responsibility. God’s sovereignty is a family secret!
- Kelly, William. Lectures on the Gospel of Matthew. Loizeaux Brothers, 1943.
- William Kelly suggested that “the special affections of Christ to the Church, His loving care for His servants, the hope of His coming again, the glorious prospects of the Church as His bride, etc.” are the pearls that are reserved for Christian fellowship alone. – Kelly, William. Lectures on the Gospel of Matthew. Loizeaux Brothers, 1943.