Matthew 7:1–6: Judging and Being Judged
In the previous section, Jesus offered words of tremendous comfort that Christians have drawn upon for the last two thousand years. In this next passage, Jesus abruptly turns to issue words of poignant rebuke that have challenged Christians for the last two thousand years. In Matthew 7:1–6, Jesus declares us to be not only incapable of judging others, but even blind to evaluate the predicament of our own sin. While this passage has been frequently twisted, misused, and abused, we should not miss Jesus’ message: judge your sin, lest you be judged by God.
1. When Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” is he saying that we cannot make any moral judgments whatsoever (v. 1)? Why or why not? How do we come to judge sin, while leaving off final judgment of sinners to Christ’s future judgment? Where do you struggle with judging other people in the way that Jesus talks about here? How should we respond to Jesus’ warning in v. 2?
2. What is the meaning of the “speck” in a neighbor’s eye and the “log” in our own eye? What is the significance of the “eye” in this imagery? How does sin affect our moral judgments? Why do we have such a difficult time seeing our own sin? Why do we so easily “notice” the sins of others? What would it mean to “first take the log out of your own eye” in your life (v. 5)? Why is this step critical for personal ministry to others?
3. How does v. 6 connect with vv. 1–5? Who are the “dogs” and the “pigs”? What are the “holy” things and the “pearls”? What is the danger of continuing to bring the holy things of God to those who persistently reject them? How do we know the difference between patience and forbearance, and foolishness and recklessness in our sharing of the gospel? What do you think Jesus intends for you to hear from this statement?
4. Why do we struggle so much with censoriousness and judgmentalism? How have cultural trends related to “tolerance” and “affirmation” made Jesus’ words more difficult to interpret and apply? What role does the Church have to declare the truth faithfully in a word that hates the just judgment of God? What role does the Church have to hold out the gospel faithfully? What way do you need to apply Jesus’ words to your life this week?