True or False Judgment – Matthew 7:1-5

In this seventh chapter of Matthew, in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about judging others—or criticizing and condemning others.

Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Just previously (in chapter 6) Jesus spoke on worry. Now He turns to judging others. This is an interesting transition—from worry to judging others. But I think this is what we tend to do in our sins. At first, we think inwardly at all we have to do and worry about it; then we will turn our sins and frustrations outward toward others. Thus, when we get tired of looking inwardly at ourselves, we try to console ourselves and make ourselves look and feel better by condemning others. How sad.

But Jesus sets us straight as to what is going on. First of all, He tells us that whenever we point the finger at others, the same judgment will be pointed back at us—by others, and also, more importantly, by God.

His judgment will come to Christians in three ways:

1. There will be a final and eternal judgment to determine if you are really a true believer or not. If your name is found in the book of life then you are saved from eternal hell; if not, then you are not really a Christian at all and you will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).

2. There is a judgment for disobedience and sin. Scripture tells us that some are judged with sickness and even death; and in some cases, God will deliver them to Satan to let him carry out His will (1 Cor. 5:5).

3. When He comes to take believers to heaven there will be a judgment of rewards, where our works will be manifest (1 Cor. 3). And this judgment is so important because it will affect us for eternity.

So, we should be careful about judging others, because God will certainly judge us. And that judgment will be just. And interestingly, it will be measured to us by the same standard we use on others (v. 2).

Romans 2:1 says, “In whatever you judge another you condemn yourselves; for you who judge practice the same things.” Isn’t that interesting. Paul is saying that whatever we are guilty of, we tend to condemn others of.

James 3:1 says, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Here, similarly, God judges us with the same judgment we set for others.

Looking at verses 3 and 4 of Matthew 7, we see that we, in many cases, should not be judging others at all because we are incapable of doing it. We can’t do it because we are not right in ourselves. If we were really concerned about righteousness in others, we would deal with that same sin in ourselves.

What Is True Judgment?

Yes, there is a true or correct judgment. What does it look like?

1. In true judgment there is no prejudice or personal element. It is an objective judgment based on principles of truth, not on personalities.

2. In true or correct judgment the one who judges will first judge himself. A great singer or actor is always more critical of himself than others. A good judge sets the correct standard for others. In fact, one who is good at his game, say a Mikael Jordan, does not need to say anything to others. His good game will say more than any words will ever say. But if he does give his team mates any words of correction, believe me, they will listen!

3. True judgment cares about the righteousness of God, in others and in the one judging. The true judge has already dealt with sin in himself and sees clearly to help another.

“Judge Not” – from Matthew 7:1

When our Lord says, “judge not,” in Matthew 7:1, He is using the term only in its negative sense—as the Pharisees judged. Certainly, we are to have discerning judgment, as to who is a false prophet and who is a true one, and to judge doctrine. And the state has judges and magistrates that are appointed by God to judge. And the church also is to judge its people in certain matters of discipline.

The kind of judgement our Lord is speaking of when He says “judge not” is a condemning judgement—a judgment we see in the Pharisees. This negative, condemning judgment can be seen in six ways.

  1. It has an evil spirit attached to it. I would say that, for this reason, it is of the devil and it works to destroy us.
  2. It condemns and despises others for no good reason. We have seen this toward the Samaritans, and also toward the Jews. Certainly, we see it toward Jesus and toward Christians. Recently we see it from some toward Donald Trump; and we also see it toward entire races of people—toward blacks and toward whites.
  3. It has a spirit of self-righteousness and supremacy. This spirit of judgment is based on the lie that one person or persons is better or more righteous than another. It is what condemned an entire race of people (the Jews) to extermination.
  4. It hopes for the worst in others. Hence, we see its evil, diabolical nature; a nature that is the opposite of love.
  5. It focuses on personalities instead of principles. In correct judgment we always judge according to biblical principles, but in wrong judgment it is always according to something we just don’t like about a person—according to our personal preferences.
  6. It is expressing an opinion about someone without gathering knowledge of all the facts. It is a snap judgment. It is a first impression that is often wrong.

Source: Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones