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. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" ~Matthew 7:1-3
Recently, I have observed more than one person bring up this verse in an attempt to defend a "to each his own", "tolerance" sort of position regarding sin and faith. While I knew in my heart that was not the point Jesus was trying to make here, I decided to study it out some rather than just ignore the discussion. I figure that is part of considering the plank in my own eye;)
My first thought was, if they are accusing me of judging when I am quoting scripture, then by their definition of judgment, they are judging me when they quote this scripture, so it becomes a great paradox. I dont believe this is what Jesus taught, for He is not the author of confusion.
As I studied, I used one of my favorite bible study resources, Andrew Wommack's Living Commentary . (available for purchase by clicking the link, or you can also access many of the notes at no charge through Andrew's Website). When I looked at all the individual scriptures in this note, it helped me to see the bigger picture of biblical judgment:
Life For Today Study Bible Notes
Note 46 at Mt 7:1:
On other occasions, Jesus told people to judge (Lu 12:57 and Joh 7:24). The disciples told people to judge (Ac 4:19; Ro 14:13; 1Co 5:12, 6:2, 10:15, 11:13, and 14:29). Paul judged (1Co 5:3 and 2Co 5:14). There are many examples of people judging. Paul prayed that our love would abound more and more in all judgment (Php 1:9). In the light of these scriptures, it is evident that there must be a right and wrong type of judging.
In Lu 12:56-57, Jesus used the words "discern" and "judge" interchangeably. As defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, "judge" can mean many things from "condemn" to "to form an opinion or evaluation." There certainly is nothing wrong with discerning or appraising a situation or person. Quite the contrary, we need to try the spirits (1Jo 4:1). Judging, when done as discernment, is good.
It is the condemning type of judgment that is wrong. This is denounced in other scriptures (Ro 14:4, 10, 13; and Jas 4:11) because of the reasons stated in Mt 5:22. We can defer to God passing sentence on people and know that He will have perfect judgment (Ro 2:2 and Re 20:12-13).
Also notice that in these scriptures, Jesus was not forbidding judgment; He was warning us to be careful with our judgments because we will be judged accordingly. This same principle is stated in Ro 2:1-3 and Jas 2:12-13. There are certain cases where we have to pass a condemning sentence, as Paul did (1Co 5:3-5 and 1Ti 1:20), or as a judge would today. Pastors and elders are charged with rebuking and even disciplining church members (1Ti 5:20; Re 2:12-16, and 18-20), but it is not something to be done lightly. This warning constrains us to be certain that we have heard from God and are not simply venting our own frustrations.
—Andrew Wommack's Living Commentary
So what do I gather from all of this?
There is a pervasive doctrine in the world today that refuses to believe in absolutes, but that doesnt change what the Word of God teaches. There is right and there is wrong. There is Truth and there is lie. If I call myself a follower of Jesus, I cannot ignore what He says when it is uncomfortable HE said "I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father except by Me". Saying that the Bible says something is wrong is not hate, unless it is done in a hateful manner. You can be wrong til the day you die and I will still love you. On the other hand, telling someone they are okay when they are not is not love.
How to remove the plank?
There are some things I need to remember when handling the uncompromising Truth of our beloved Father:
1) Its not MY truth or YOUR truth, its HIS truth. The thing about Truth is that it may not be optional for salvation, but it is a choice- proclaim Truth when and where appropriate, but never try to force it on someone.
2)There is nothing I can do in my own strength to convince someone to believe- God tells us to speak, preach, teach, exhort, but it is the Holy Spirit who will do the convincing. Its also NOT about me being right and someone else being wrong.
3)Just because I know something is right or wrong, doesnt mean I always have to say it. Speak when the Holy Spirit tells me to, keep silent when He tells me not to speak.
To sum it up, here are a few scriptures that support these ideas:
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
~2 Timothy 2:23-26
Behave yourselves wisely-living prudently and with discretion-in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing the opportunity. Let your speech at all times be gracious, pleasant and winsome, seasoned-as it were- with salt, so that you may never be at a loss to know how you ought to answer anyone who puts a question to you.
~Colossians 4:5-7 (Amplified)
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human[a] wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
~1 Corinthians 2:4-5
...let our lives lovingly express truth in all things- speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One.
~Ephesians 4:15 (Amplified)
Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it.
~Ephesians 4:15 (Amplified)
But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith-make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher- praying in the Holy Spirit; Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which will bring you unto life eternal.
And refute so as to convict some who dispute with you,and on some have mercy who waver and doubt. Strive to save others, snatching them out of the fire; on others take pity but with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality.
~Jude 20-23 (Amplified)
AMEN~ SO BE IT :)