Lesson 105—March 13, 2016
Scripture: Matthew 7:1
Lesson Goal: To learn and understand Jesus’ meaning of “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
As we begin our study, allow me to explain how I literally compose, or write, these lessons?
Most of you know that in many ways I still live in days of yesteryear, as evidenced by my manner of writing these lessons. I still use the old yellow note pads. I literally handwrite each lesson and then pass it on to our high-tech individuals—primarily Judy. Without boring you with the details of my research, study and exegesis, I would like to share the first four things I do before any content is written. First, I write the number of the lesson in the series of lessons, followed by the date the lesson will be used in class. For instance today is lesson 105 for March 13, 2016. The second thing I do is write “Lesson Title,” but this line remains blank until the lesson is completely written. The title comes when the lesson is complete. The third item is the Scripture passage that serves as our primary lesson content. Finally, I write the lesson goal, which in a few words describes our learning goal for the lesson.
I share this brief information because as I write today’s lesson I had to take a pause after the first words on the yellow pad. As I sit in my study on a cloudy, rainy January day, I focus on the day this lesson will be studied—March 13, 2016. March 13 is a special day for my family and me. This day would have been my sweet Mama’s (Granny Brackin’s) 95th birthday. This year she is celebrating her birthday in Heaven. Enough said! Amen!
“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
For us to gain a true and full understanding of this verse, we must look at it in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, the totality of Scripture, and certainly the words that follow in verses 2-6.
Jesus’ words: “Judge not, that you be not judged,” have often been misinterpreted, misunderstood and misapplied. Some have gone so far as to interpret that Jesus was forbidding or denouncing any court of law. This is a gross misinterpretation and misunderstanding of His words.
Others misinterpret this passage by saying that Jesus was giving instruction what we, His followers, are to disregard all critical love in regard to others, but Jesus is not teaching that we should disregard all discernment concerning others. We must view this passage in the light of the New Testament which speaks and offers many illustrations of proper legitimate judgment of the condition, conduct, and teaching of others. Please read Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 18:15; Romans 16:17; and 1 John 4:1.
Since it is translated some ten different ways in the New Testament, context is an important factor in determining the word’s significance in a particular passage. We can determine, that here the Lord did not say “Judge not” in the sense of forbidding us to distinguish between this or that, for in the same context (7:6), He told us to be discriminating (between good and evil, truth and false). He used the expression to warn us, His followers, against coming to adverse conclusions about people in a condemning way. He warned us that if we foster a critical spirit toward others we will reap what we sow. We can expect to be judged and condemned by others in the same way and to the same extent that we judge and condemn them (Phillips).
As we study the Sermon on the Mount, we must remember to constantly be aware of the contrast of the scribes and Pharisees whose self-righteousness was in complete and direct opposition to the true righteousness of God. Please read Matthew 5:20.
John MacArthur writes:
When an individual or a group develops their own standards of religion and morality, they inevitably judge everyone by those self-made beliefs and standards. The scribes and Pharisees had done that. Over the previous several centuries they had gradually modified God’s revealed Word to suit their own thinking, inclinations, and abilities. By Jesus’ time their tradition had taken such a hold on Judaism that it had actually replaced the authority of Scripture in the minds of many Jews (Matthew 15:6 and 15:2).
MacArthur goes on to explain:
Along with the many other sins spawned by their self-righteousness, the scribes and Pharisees had become oppressively judgmental. They proudly looked down on everyone who was not a part of their elite system. They were unmerciful, unforgiving, unkind, censorious, and totally lacking in compassion and grace. Their evaluation of others, like every other aspect of their hypocritical system, was based on appearance, on the external and superficial (John 7:24 and 8:15). They lived to justify themselves in the eyes of other men; but Jesus told them that their judgment was utterly contrary to God’s and was detestable in His sight (Luke 16:15).
Please prayerfully read Luke 18:11-14.
When we elevate ourselves, what therefore do we do to others?
What are some ways that we show from the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees? How do we judge others (be real!!)?
How does the spirit of the scribes and Pharisees rear up its ugliness in our lives?
How quickly do I judge the hearts of others, because they may look, talk, sound, dress or even believe differently than I do? (The key word in this question is heart.) Please read Luke 16:15a.
Matthew 7:1 should not be viewed as instructions for us never to look critically at the actions, behavior or attitudes of others. See 1 Corinthians 2:15; 5:9; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Philippians 3:2. Matthew 7:1 does warn us, His followers, against having a bitter, resentful, hostile and unkind spirit which delights in finding faults with others. Simply stated, hypocrisy has no place in the heart or life of a follower of Jesus Christ.
What are some times in your life when hypocrisy was evident? Please answer prayerfully.
Concerning Matthew 7:1, according to the Believer’s Study Bible:
This verse is particularly applicable to the area of motives. No one of us can know the heart of another, and thus to draw conclusions as to the ‘why’ of people’s actions, especially when those actions are indifferent or even good, is to invite God’s judgment upon one’s own life.
Verse one does not mean that as a follower of Jesus Christ we should never offer constructive evaluation or judgment concerning the attitudes, actions, or behavior of others. But we must be careful and wise in our discernment of others.
What should be our motivation when we, led by the Spirit of God, offer truly constructive evaluation of others?
Next week we will continue our study on the subject of judging others. We will hear again from Jesus as He continues to expound on this subject. Also next week, I will share the testimony and witness of my own life on this subject.