“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5
The above passage is frequently used by people who do not what to face the criticism or correction of others. They say, “Jesus said ‘Judge not’, so don’t judge me!” However, I do not believe that Jesus intended for us to use His words as an excuse to do what we like and not allow anyone to challenge us. Certainly not. Jesus is teaching us to be introspective and focus our attention on our own actions, rather than pointing the finger at others. The example He gives about spotting the smallest flaw in our brother whilst missing the massive issues we carry is an admonition to stop being over-critical of others. Doing this does not make us more spiritual or holy; quite the opposite, it blinds us to the flaws in our lives, making us candidates for God’s judgement.
Jesus’ instruction is two-fold, and I feel that we sometimes miss the second part, He says do not judge others, but make sure you judge yourselves! And I mean, really judge. It is easy to pay lip-service to this and continue to criticise others and then simply say “oh, but what do I know, no one is perfect”. This is false humility and does not cover up our critical heart. In verse 5, Jesus tells us to start with ourselves, not tack it on as an afterthought.
Jesus wants to make us more like Him, by the work of his Spirit and by the washing of His Word. This means having a heart that always looks at ourselves first, asking him to change us and remove the planks from our own eyes and allow Him to move the specks from the eyes of others. When He has done that work in us, we are then in a position to challenge others in love and with Spirit-filled wisdom. Being overly critical does not change anyone, and prevents us from developing into the people He wants us to be.
Prayer: Lord, today, help me to always start with me. Especially with my husband/wife, brothers and sisters, parents and friends, people I live in close proximity. When I see things that annoy me, help me not to judge them harshly, but to look at myself first and strive to please you in my thoughts, words and actions, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.