Friday, October 21, 2022

Handout - Matthew Chapter 7:1-5 - Judging, Plank and Sawdust

by Stan Feldsine (

Jesus continues His teaching on the mount with the subject changing to a series of proverbs giving instruction on kingdom attitudes and standards.

Matthew 7:1-2 - Do Not Judge

Jesus is not claiming that we should not make moral and ethical judgments. What He is teaching is that we should not be in a place of moral haughtiness and take up a position of "sitting in judgment of others". Stott says:

"The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people and enjoys actively seeking out their failings. He puts the worst possible construction on their motives, pours cold water on their schemes and is ungenerous toward their mistakes."

A proper attitude to have in shown in Gal 6:1-5. In Mat 7:2 Jesus warns that those who judge harshly will be judged harshly themselves, and those that are merciful and kind will be judged mercifully and with kindness. Jesus warns us about being harsh towards the faults of others. Carons points out:

"The judgmental person by not being forgiving and loving testifies to his own arrogance and impenitence, by which he shuts himself out from God's forgiveness."

Stott adds valuable context:

"To sum up, the command to judge not is not a requirement to be blind, but rather a plea to be generous. Jesus does not tell us to cease to be men (by suspending our critical powers which help to distinguish us from animals) but to renounce the presumptuous ambition to be God (by setting ourselves up as judges)."

Jesus's context is consistent with the major theme of the Bible which teaches that we are to be transformed into His likeness by allowing the Holy Spirit to change who we are at our base foundation. With regards to judging, we are to be merciful and generous, and not be harsh and unforgiving.

Matthew 7:3-5 - The Plank and the Sawdust

This passage is hyperbolic exaggeration to make the point that judgmental attitudes are a greater offense than what is being pointed out. The judgmental attitude is the Plank. Jesus is rebuking the tendency of human nature to climb up on each others back by magnifying the faults of others without considering ones own faults. Someone with a superior judgmental attitude cannot be trusted to see things clearly enough to correctly judge others (Gal 6:1).

"You hypocrite", is addressed at those that do not first judge themselves. Those who fail to judge themselves and taking moral high ground are pretending to be something they are not. Jesus was telling us that we should follow proper procedure for calling out the failures of others. We should carefully scrutinize ourselves to be sure that we dealing with our own failures first, including possibly that of spiritual smugness or self-righteousness (Joh 8:3-11).

Barnes states:

"The beam, the thing that obscured our sight, will be removed, and we shall more clearly discern the small object that obscures the sight of our brother. The sentiment is, that our readiest way to judge of the imperfections of others is to be free from greater ones ourselves. This qualifies us for judging, makes us candid and consistent, and enables us to see things as they are, and to make proper allowances for frailty and imperfection."

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