Read Matthew 7:1-6
I think these verses on judging others in Matthew 7:1-6, are probably the hardest for Christians to tackle because whether we realize it or not we always make snap judgments about people in one form or another. I once went into a jewellery store to buy my daughter a fancy present for Christmas. Three things you need to know first before I tell this story:
Oh, and one more thing! At the time, I used a walker to get around. Now when I stepped into that jewellery store every person in the store turned to look at me. I mean really look at me. They looked me up and down and decided en masse that I was not worthy of their time. They judged me by my looks. They assumed I had no money to spend because I wasn't dressed appropriately for their "fine" establishment and I certainly didn't fit the part of someone with money to spend. But at that time in my life I did have money to spend, but no one in the store offered to help me or even say hello. Five sales clerks all turned away from me as if I wasn't there. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
They made a big mistake. Big. Huge. I went shopping somewhere else.
Clearly they judged me based on their standards. So these verses today got me wondering. How often do Christians do the same thing? John 7:24 says, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." That means we are to have discernment. Discernment enables us to listen to our "spidey senses" if we meet someone and feel immediately uncomfortable or unsafe. Discernment, helps us when listening to a preacher who says something contrary to Scripture. Discernment does not create division or hatred like with the Presidential election. Discernment is listening to the Holy Spirit and acting accordingly. It is not hateful, arrogant or pushy as judging someone can be. Discernment is not judging.
But judging is when we try to force our views or opinions on someone else. Instead of judging by God's standards we judge by our own standards and preferences which often leads to disagreements within the church body. This is not discernment. This is judging.
Now as I discussed in previous posts, the Pharisees were religious leaders, and Jesus liked to use them in his parables and sermons as examples of how not to behave. They judged people by the letter, not the spirit, of the law and so they judged others based on their own behaviour and beliefs. But Jesus basically said in Matthew 7:2 and I'm paraphrasing here, "Don't judge people at all if you are judging them the way the Pharisees do, because if you judge people that way, you will be judged with the same severity." Jesus' intent is seen by his use of the words "speck" and "plank" in Matthew 7:3-4. Judgmental people are arrogant, prideful, foolish and can't see clearly because they lack discernment (because of planks in their eyes). They may, like the Pharisees, "know" the Scriptures inside out, but they don't know how to "live" them.
An excellent example of this is the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the Temple to pray.
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14, NKJV).
Jesus says in Matthew 7:6: "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." This verse is hard to understand coming after a discussion on judging others. What is Jesus really saying here? What is holy in this case? Jesus has been talking about the Pharisees (hypocrites) who judge others according to their own standards and not the Word of God. The Word of God is what is sacred or holy in this case. The dogs and swine are those who do not believe nor accept God's Word as holy. We are not to argue or defend ourselves before them using Scripture (what is holy). We are not to judge them based on Scripture either, because they don't accept it. Quite simply we are not to judge anyone who does not know the Lord. Period. Because ultimately, if we do, we are judging them based on Scripture (which Jesus tells us not to do because they don't accept it) and we are judging them based on our own standards, which He also tells us not to do.
Have discernment? Yes. Correct or rebuke your brother or sister in Christ when they are sinning or believing in false doctrines? Yes. (2 John 1:9-10). But judge others? Only God is allowed to do that.