Combatting a Censorious
Text: Matthew 7: 1 - 6
There were many evils that Jesus had to battle. He was undeterred by the number of problems that He had to address and combat. Graciously He dealt with views and practices that though defective, nevertheless prevailed in the land. He had come as the Messiah and one of His duties was to bring wonderful words of life to the nation.
The next problem that Jesus dealt with was a thorny one. Let us take time to ponder over what He said.
“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
The word “judge” in this context must be described in the context of words such as “censorious” or “prejudice”. Jesus was dealing with the problem of people who had an overbearing and judgmental spirit. These were quick to criticize and to condemn. However, they were never quite able to receive adverse comments from others. To these Jesus had to issue a stern word of warning. When one is quick and ready to pounce on people in unfair judgment, one must be prepared to be critically appraised as well!
THE JUDGMENT THAT WE METE OUT
How Jesus must have stunned His hearers with these words. How forthright and fair His words were.
“For with what judgment you judge, you
will be judged! And with the measure you
use, it will be measured back to you.”
What Jesus taught here reminds us of what the psalms teach us concerning God as the Just Judge. Psalm 7 sees David pleading with the Lord to be his Judge. However, even as he called upon God to vindicate him, he knew that God would examine his heart. Thus he laid his life open to God for verification.
“O Lord my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me;
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honour in the dust.”
He who judges others must be prepared for his own life to be judged! David was right in his perception concerning the matter of judgment! One cannot call upon God to judge others when one’s life is covered by sin!
Jesus restated this truth and applied it to the practical details of human life. Whatever measure of judgment we make against others, we must be prepared to have that same measure applied against our life!
THE DEADLY PROBLEM OF HYPOCRISY
Once again, Jesus had to use this nasty word to describe the people who were so prone to judge and condemn others. But any other word would not do. The problem would otherwise not have been addressed accurately or adequately.
“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.”
Perhaps some of the disciples found their faces breaking into grins as they listened to Jesus describing the antics of the hypocrites. What a sense of humour Jesus had! Little specks of dust would sometimes find their way into a person’s eye indeed, for Israel was quite dusty. But describing the hypocrite’s eye as having a “plank” – that was a classic rub against the hypocrites!
Hypocrites were blind to their own faults, it seems! But they were hypersensitive to the faults they see in others! Hypocritically, they would approach an “erring brother” and offer to help him correct his faults, when all the time, they should be addressing the personal problems in their own life first!
WHEN HEARTS ARE CLOSED AND NO LONGER RESPONSIVE
Even as Jesus addressed this problem concerning having a judgmental spirit, He knew that these words would fall on deaf ears, where hypocrites were concerned. One day, His disciples would have to deal with such problems too. They must be forearmed with this truth.
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast
your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Jesus did not wish to elaborate further on this subject. Hypocrites may be appropriately likened to dogs and swine, just as His words may be likened to holy truths and precious jewels. Those whose hearts are closed would never respond to truth!