In our attempt to disciple others to follow Christ, we can be over zealous. We can make the mistake of acting out of a sense of pride and self-righteous. This will quickly lead to a judgmental attitude and even anger and frustration. Therefore, as we become disciples who make disciples, we must be cautious in remaining humble, gracious and teachable. The following scripture teaches us some very valuable information concerning our need for humility and grace as we deal with our sin and the sin of others. Please read the following words of Jesus carefully.
MT 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see 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,’ when there is the log 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. 6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Now meditate on it and let it sink in. As I learned from Every Man a Warrior: Is there a command to obey? Is there a promise to claim? Is there a sin to confess? Is there application you need to make in your life?
Okay, now let’s dive into this particular scripture. But before we go on, let’s grapple with an issue related to this text. How many times have you heard someone say, “the Bible says that we aren’t supposed to judge?” I personally can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone say this. It makes me cringe, twitch and shake especially when it comes out of the mouth of a church member. Just so we’re straight on this. The Bible does NOT say that we aren’t supposed to unconditionally judge as many claims. At the very least, there is no blanket, unilateral or uniform statement where the Bible says we are never, under any circumstance, supposed to judge. With that said, we are cautioned about judging others.
What does the Bible really say about judging others?
- Judge with caution. Be careful when you judge because judgment will likely return to you. In addition to that, when you judge, you must be willing to live by the standard by which you judge. Moreover, you can count on being held accountable by others using the same standard you use to judge them. A good rule of thumb is model, teach and then correct. That is, model the right attitude and behavior, teach it from the Bible and then make corrections as necessary with those you are leading.
- Judge with humility and grace. Be careful to examine yourself before you pass judgment on others. When we are self-righteous and arrogant, we are likely to overlook our sins (the log) and focus on the sin (speck) of others. When we lack humility in confronting others, we lose credibility. Instead of helping our brother, we typically make the situation worse. In fact, the fellowship is often broken between the two. In contrast, when we remove the log in our own eye first (confess and repent of our sins), we can help our brother get unentangled from his sin and help him heal and be restored.
- Judge with discernment. Be careful to discern your brother’s spiritual maturity before you try to take the speck out of his eye (confront your brother’s sin). As a pig is unable to understand and appreciate the value and beauty of your pearls, someone who lacks spiritual maturity is typically unable to calculate the value of your correction, even instruction, when it is beyond their spiritual understanding. It doesn’t mean we never correct or teach those who are young in the faith. It just means we must use discernment and the leading of the Spirit to know when and how. All in all, in the same way we don’t correct a baby when he gets food all over himself when he eats, we typically don’t teach or correct those young in the faith concerning either trivial or profound matters. A pastor once told me, “you can’t discipline someone for something beyond their level of maturity or ability to understand.”
If you’re going to be a credible and otherwise effective disciple maker, you must grapple with your humility or lack thereof. It may go without saying but I’ll state it anyway. If you’re not growing in humility and grace, people will not embrace you as a disciple of Jesus and teacher of God’s word. And the result is . . . you won’t have a ministry. Well okay, you may have a title or position but ask yourself, do I really have a ministry? Allow me to caution you. If you don’t continuously deal with your humility and the application of grace, you’ll either quit because you are frustrated at the faults of others but refuse to see yours or you’ll grumble and complain to the point where you’ll notice people distancing themselves. So, the challenge is . . . pray and ask God to help you grow as a humble disciple. After all, humble disciples judge with caution, humility and grace with discernment.
A Work in Progress,