The Pharisees were used to judging others self-righteously. Jesus said there are problems with that kind of judging. It’s overly critical, always going around with a nit-picking attitude, digging and searching for faults, always suspecting the worst.
What Jesus is talking about is a hasty, unloving, “holier than thou” type of attitude.
Whenever we make a judgment, we do so based on what we have seen and sometimes that’s not enough to provide the whole picture. Human judgment is limited to the information which we put into it and sometimes that isn’t enough to make an accurate judgment.
Searching For Specks Matthew 7:3-5
Bertrand Russell capsulated this hypocrisy when he said, “I am firm. You are obstinate. He’s pig-headed. I have reconsidered. You have changed your mind. He’s gone back on his word.“
We’re not qualified to sit in judgment on others because it’s impossible to be impartial — we’re influenced by our own imperfections.
When I spend my time pointing my finger at your sin, my attention is distracted from my own sins, and that’s the real danger of judging. We’re all sinners, and we’re to work together as a family to overcome our sins.
Helping Our Brother Matthew 7:5
Suppose a child comes to you with a splinter in his finger. He’s crying, “Please take this splinter out!” What’s the Christian thing to do? Leave the splinter there? No! You take the splinter out. So Jesus was saying there is a place for some discernment in people’s lives. If you see brothers or sisters who have specks in their eyes, you need to help them take it out!
The Right Way To Judge Matthew 7:6
Some believe that you can’t judge anyone else as being right or wrong and you have no right to condemn the way anyone is living. If you are doing that, you are wrong and that you shouldn’t live that way. Thus they practice the very thing they claim is wrong for others.
First Jesus says, “Don’t judge, don’t condemn.” Then, in the same breath, He says, “Make certain judgments concerning people and behavior.”
How can these two positions be reconciled? The two positions actually complement and limit each other perfectly. In the first statement, as we’ve already seen, Jesus condemns the critical, holier-than-thou, jumping to conclusions sort of judgment that the Pharisees were known for.
In this second statement, Jesus acknowledges the need for making decisions concerning people and behavior that is detrimental to our Christian lives.
In Matthew 7:1-6 we have a warning to avoid the extremes of judgment.
We need to be careful not to become harshly judgmental, looking for faults, taking the opportunity to look down on others from our position of self-righteousness.
But neither are we to overlook sin. We need to be able to recognize sin for what it is. Any attempt to overlook or justify sin on any grounds is itself sinful.
In John 8 We come to another story, the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Notice how Jesus demonstrates Matthew 7:1-6
Jesus refused to look down on her. He wouldn’t allow the mob to treat her as a thing. Rather He forced the mob to consider their own sin.
But, He didn’t justify her sin. He wouldn’t refer to her action as anything other than sin.