Welcome to the final part of the 3rd course of Red Bricks.
Read Matthew 7:1-6
In the final instalment of this third block of bricks, we find ourselves faced with possibly the hardest words in the entire Bible. This is Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) given us all (without exception) a command not to judge each other. He warns us that we will be judged according to the exact measure with which we judge. So, what does this mean in practice?
Firstly, we should acknowledge that despite what our Lord says on the subject, we all judge. The modern church has a culture that judges. We see our leaders judging the leaders of other churches. It follows that we will do it. But, the truth is, we don’t have to live that way. If we take anything to God in prayer and allow Him alone to judge, then we will be free. We can all live lives without judgement, if we choose to. Of course, there is some terminology that we should cover here before we go any further.
Throughout Paul’s letters further on in the New Testament we see him warning people, leaders, in churches to challenge and sometimes remove people from the congregations if they are failing to live up to God’s standard. This isn’t the same judgement to which Yeshua is referring. Paul is referring to discipleship and discipline. If people know the truth and continue to live a life opposed to what God’s Spirit says, then the leadership of the church has a responsible to make a judgement call upon that person for the good of the whole. There are some clearly set out guidelines for how you deal with such an occurrence which we will cover at a later date.
What Yeshua is referring to is the judgement that takes place in the heart. The judgement of those around us, those whom He commands us to love, these are the people we should not judge. Whether inside or outside of the church, everyone counts as our neighbour. We are to love them. Judgement is reserved entirely for God. And Him alone. If we judge others without seeking God, then we become the law. That same law we become will be used against us.
We should note that the Hebrew culture placed a great deal of emphasis upon judging people and disputes. Within a town or small city, the elders of the people would sit in the gatehouse and make judgements all day long. It might be a dispute about the ownership of some sheep or about who is going to marry someone’s daughter. This all grew up out of the Oral Traditions which we have previously talked about.
Yeshua is telling us all that we don’t need to live like that any longer; that God will judge all. By not judging others we can remove from ourselves a great deal of needless trouble and judgement upon ourselves. We should love each other, not judge each other. Love will never keep any record of wrongs and therefore never judges. The warning that the measure by which we judge others will be used against us is very strong. You might think this to be a far off event and nothing to concern yourself with now. You might think that you will escape God’s judgement by being ‘saved’. Be very careful. We really don’t know how this works. But, we do know that all the way through what we call the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua is referring almost completely to spiritual matters. I see no reason to think that the judgements we make in this realm don’t have an effect in the unseen spiritual realm. I am sure that they do.
Let’s consider how judgement might work for us.
We know from Judges chapter 11 that Jephthah, who himself had been made judge over Isra’el, asked God for immediate judgement over the Ammonites who were threatening Isra’el. God judged in his favour because he had acted correctly and the Ammonites had not. Remember, that God is just, which means He is fair. If Jephthah had asked for immediate judgement upon the Ammonites but had not been right before God, then God simply couldn’t have judged in his favour.
Think of it like this: Before God there are a set of scales. If we come before Him and ask Him to, say rescue us from a certain situation, God will put into one side of the balance all the reasons why He can act in our favour. But, He will add to the other side of the balance all the reasons why He can’t. Because He is completely fair and completely just, He will always do what is right when we ask Him for immediate judgement.
When Y’shua says that the measure which we use against others will be used against us, this is exactly how it works. If I complain to God about the way another Christian has treated me, and I have treated someone else in the very same fashion, God will use that to prevent my prayer being answered. He has no choice. He is just.
However, we can call upon Him for immediate justice, providing that our own house is in order first. Hence the analogy Yeshua uses with the plank of wood and the eye. If we want God to hear our case, we must first ensure that we are not in any kind of hypocrisy over the same matter. If we are, then it will likely backfire upon us. In order to make sure that we are not in hypocrisy, we must use self-examination constantly to stand before God. When we pray we should ask the Holy Spirit to show us any way in us that would prevent God from answering our prayers. Our prayers are effectively requests for judgement before God. If the scales tip in our favour, then He will answer our prayers.
By finishing this advice with the instruction not to throw our pearls before swine, Yeshua is showing us that these things, when we learn them, are not to be shared with non-believers. To be able to petition God from a place of righteousness means that our prayers will be answered. There is much more to this process than has currently been revealed to us. Yeshua warns that if we share with non-believers these hidden treasures, we run the risk of these very tools being used against us.
Always remember that God is the judge. Make sure you are right before Him before you ask for His judgement. We are made right before Him by confessing our sins and asking for His forgiveness.