Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge, you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye, while there is still a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your eye so that you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7.1-5
As you near the end of the sermon on the mount, we come to this famous passage, ‘Do not judge so that you will not be judged.’ Of course as you read on, Jesus clarifies that there is a place and time for right judgement and that we are to do this act but only in humility acknowledging our greater fault.
Take a look more carefully at the text. He begins with the command, then he says we ought to judge with a consistent standard (which presumably typical judgment is not). Then he provides a real example which is easily transferable to any judgement we make.
So first, we shouldn’t judge so we won’t be judged by such a poor standard. We are self-interested creatures, and thus don’t judge properly. There is a general lack of wisdom in the common person’s judgement and if the same sort of judgment you use is used against you, you would receive unfair judgment. Jesus illustrates this with the image of us having a beam in our eye and a speck in the other person’s eye. This is definitely a strong comparison. Our judgment is blinded by a beam: think of the rafters at All Nations: beautiful, huge fir trusses from old growth trees holding up the roof. This is what is immediately in front of your eye, and so you cannot see. Obviously, you cannot see past the beam stuck in your eye. You may feel a compulsion to try to fix the thing over there, but you are not in a healthy state to do such a thing. Instead, you need a humble attitude which addresses your blindness. You are unable to see truly, so consider- what is your fault? Being self-interested creatures, we don’t want to acknowledge that our wisdom and knowledge of situations is finite. Instead, we want to jump in and fix the situation over there before it gets bad. This is like the awkward scene in the movie where the hero of the story jumps to the rescue of someone who doesn’t need any rescuing. In the same way, we are tempted to judge others based on our own assumptions and not based on careful consideration first of our own biased point of view and then addressing the situation with humility. First, take the log out of your own eye before you proceed to address the situation that you need to judge.
It is amazingly easy to jump to conclusions. I have done this at times when correcting our oldest when in reality she is not in need of correction. Where she looks like she is heading to peril (either hurting herself or her sister) there are a small number of times where she may not actually be heading to peril but doing something her mother had told her to do like carry the gallon of milk to the table. Take care to acknowledge the beam in your own eye whether you are instructing your child or addressing a brother or sister in Christ who seems to be in the wrong. Doing so will provide for the edification of everyone involved.