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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

November 14, 2014

Judge not

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

In the sermon on the mount Jesus Christ warns us about being judgmental: "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" (Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus doesn't mean that we cannot discern whether an action is righteous or not.

No great spiritual gift of discernment is needed to determine that sin is sin, as in the case of the man in Corinth who apparently was living in an obscene relationship with his stepmother. Sin is sin!

Jesus is more concerned about judging a person's motives, that is his heart. He tells us that we will be evaluated by the same standard that we apply to others. And only God can truly judge a person's heart!

He continued: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?" (verses 3-4; NIV).

The contrast Jesus presents is a noteworthy comparison. A speck of sawdust, or splinter as it is also translated, and a plank are both wood. In other words, they both have the same origin.

Is Jesus telling that we tend to see faults in others that we ourselves have?

It is interesting that the apostle Paul confirmed this human tendency when he reprimanded his fellow Jews: "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things" (Romans 2:1).

In the original Greek, "inexcusable" in Romans 2:1 is literally "defenseless." In the spiritual court of law, there is no defense for the actions of a person who commits the same sin of which he accuses another. The word "practice" (prassoo) that occurs later in the verse means to perform repeatedly or habitually. So the accuser is guilty of the same fault as the accused!

God's righteous judgment is based on truth. This means that His decisions are reached based on reality, on the facts of the case, not on appearances or intentions: "But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things" (verse 2).

Do we think others lack love? Do we fail to see that this might also apply to us? Do we think some serve in the church only to be seen? Do we fail to see that this might also apply to us? Do we think that some are biased in their opinions? Could it be that we are, too?

And the list could be continued.

Let's always be mindful of Jesus' admonition concerning judgment: "First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:5).

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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