As Jesus continued teaching about God’s standards of holiness, He told His followers to stop judging other people. What did He mean? A judge is someone who looks for faults in people who are brought to court. That’s his job, and there is nothing wrong about what he does, as long as he judges according to proven facts. Judges are supposed to judge people, measuring them by the standard of the law of the land. If there were no judges, criminals would never go to jail.
However, many people seem to think that they have been appointed as judges, and thus they are always looking for faults in others. That is wrong. Furthermore, they often judge people without considering all the facts, jumping to wrong conclusions. For example, they see a mother spank her child in the grocery store and conclude she must be a child abuser. They don’t stop and think that perhaps the child deserved a spanking!
To make matters worse, these self-appointed judges usually measure other people by standards that they themselves fall short of, making themselves hypocrites. Jesus’ funny illustration about trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye while you have a log in your own eye is a perfect example of this. Imagine trying to help someone get a little speck out of his eye with a big log sticking out of yours!
What would you think if you saw two little children sitting in a mud puddle, covered with mud, and one pointing his finger at the other and saying, “You are filthy!” That is how we look to God when we criticize others.
What right do imperfect people have to find faults in others? Absolutely none. As followers of Jesus, we should be more concerned with correcting our own faults.
Q. When brothers and sisters are constantly “telling” on each other, that makes them “tattletales.” Do Jesus’ words about judging others have any application to tattletales?
A. Occasionally telling your parents about a sin of a brother or sister can be OK, if it is done out of love and concern for that brother or sister. For example, telling your parents that your brother is not wearing his seat belt in the car is a good thing. But when you tell on your brother just because you want to see him get in trouble, that is wrong, especially if you are guilty of the same sin. Then you are a hypocrite. When brothers and sisters are always telling on one another, constantly getting revenge for being told on, they demonstrate exactly what Jesus said about others treating you as you treat them. Like Jesus said, others will judge you by the same standard you use to judge them. People who are always finding fault aren’t liked by the people with whom they find fault. Consequently, those people look for faults in the people who find fault with them!
Q. What if you see a fault in another person of which you are not personally guilty? You see the speck in his eye but don’t have a log in your own eye. Should you speak to him about his fault?
A. Only if you know that the person is open to receive your constructive criticism. Otherwise, you would be giving your “pearls to a pig” (see Matthew 7:6). That is, he won’t appreciate or receive what you have to tell him. A proverb says, “Don’t bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you. But the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more” (Proverbs 9:8).
Constructive criticism offered by one who has a right to offer it is a holy thing. Jesus said we shouldn’t give what is holy to unholy people.
Application: Are people always finding fault with me? Could it be because I’m always finding faults with others, and thus I’m being measured by the same standard by which I measure others? If so, I determine to be less critical and more merciful. As a result, people will be less critical and more merciful with me.