sermon: Called to Love the Church and Guard the Gospel Matthew 7:1–6

Truth Taught-We are called to use discernment while in the Church and in the World 


As Jesus’ sermon builds we are cautioned to first not be judgmental but we are called to be discerning.  This passage has been misinterpreted and misused.  If you speak to someone about their sin etc they will sometimes fire back with this verse or a fragment of it.  Judge not lest you be judged.  I’m sure you’ve heard that before by someone who is either trying to justify their sin or just basically wants you off their back.  What does this verse really mean?  

If our righteousness is to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees we must guard against acting like them.  Multiple times Jesus had called them hypocrites and so we must not be hypocritical with others either.  They had engaged in a system of morality and greatly disparaged others who were not up to their level of righteousness according to them. 

Any time a person, a man or a woman, invents a system of morality, they then become the judge that sits on the throne of that system and determines whether anybody else qualifies or not; and that’s exactly what happened in the Pharisees’ case. And so they became oppressively judgmental of other people. They condemned and criticized. They were censorious. They were unmerciful, unforgiving, unkind, lacking grace in their constant, dissatisfied criticism of everybody who didn’t come up to their own standard.  Theirs was a manmade system of righteousness but even when we have received God’s way of righteousness the same thing can happen.

Then there are times when people can become overly critical and severe in their treatment of other believers.

So, here’s how things could go with us if we’re not careful.  Whether we like to admit it or not we can very quickly pass judgment on others as we look down our noses at people we think are in some way less than us.  Here’s how it might unfold… 

In context we are laying up treasure in heaven and not worrying about our earthly needs as God promises to meet them and we are striving for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Then we cross paths with another Christian perhaps who’s not quite where we are.  Maybe they’ve come from a different belief system or maybe they’re young in the faith?  We might be tempted to pass judgment on them and even write them off.  The call to pursue God’s righteousness can in fallen humans produce a spirit of superiority.  We must always remember any success we have in the pursuit of holiness only comes from God’s grace.  We also must remember when in the Church that we haven’t always been where we are.  In some cases, it’s taken years to get where we are.  So, we cannot expect a new Christian, for example, to eat the meat of the Word when they have not been drinking the milk of the Word very long.  It is arrogant to force feed someone doctrine they’re not ready for yet.  As we live in Christian community Jesus reminds us to be generous with others, love them for who they are, help them along, encourage them to grow but do not be too severe when they fail or stumble.    

Jesus utters these words in the midst of community and the context of His followers.  In other words, these verses are to show us how it is we are to relate to others in the Christian community namely, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How do we live in community with those who, for example, still tend toward worry even when Jesus just laid out a wonderful case for not being anxious?  This is what this section addresses.  So we have first, Christian community then second the lost community.  How it is we are to handle those who hear the Gospel and have continually rejected it even viciously.  How should we handle those people who have zero interest and even perhaps become agitated when you speak the truth of the Gospel to them?  So, the categories are those who love Jesus and the struggles that may occur as we all who love Jesus worship together in the local body and those who are lost and have no interest and even hate Jesus…    


Matthew 7:1–6 (ESV) 

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. 

1.  Discernment Toward Fellow Christians

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 

            A.  Do Not be a Judge

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

To see these two verses clearly, we must unfortunately free them from confusion and misunderstanding.  Here are a few things they don’t mean…

Some have said that they disqualify Christians from being a judge in the courts or in fact Jesus forbids any human judge on any court.  Leo Tolstoy writes, Christ totally forbids the human institution of any law court.  He goes on to say that Jesus could mean nothing else.  In fact courts and judges are biblical and endorsed by God in places like Romans 13 etc.  Jesus does not mean by judge not that we refrain from using our intellect and critical faculties in relation to other people.  He’s not telling us to turn a blind eye to sin in our community and especially within the Church.  We are called to be discerning when sin is involved.  We are called to call sin, sin and not to pretend it’s not around when it is.  We know this because Jesus loves the truth and hates hypocrisy and to deny sin is present when it really is would be to be hypocritical.  If we are to use our God given discernment and our ability to see things and people critically what exactly is Jesus forbidding here?

John 7:24 (ESV) 

24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” 

Jesus does endorse certain criticisms and a discerning spirit.

He’s forbidding being super or hypercritical.  He’s forbidding setting ourselves up as the judge.  There is a difference between analyzing and discerning verses thinking you’re the person’s judge.  Only God is the Judge not us.  

So, when we encounter a Christian brother or sister engaged in some sin we have the responsibility to go to them in love to speak to them about their conduct.  This is not passing judgment but caring enough to intercede in the situation.  

The hyper-critical person goes around looking for faults and sins and then when they find one sets themselves up as the judge and is severe in their verdict.  This person is a fault-finder.  They are always critical.  They are critical always questioning a person’s motives, always pouring cold water on their ideas and dreams, always ungenerous toward another’s mistakes and sins.  By their actions they have claimed to be very competent as the judge.  The problem as sure as they are in their all-knowing verdict, they don’t know all the details.  They don’t know a person’s motives or their heart only God knows these things.

Here’s the thrust of what Jesus is telling us…

Romans 14:4 (ESV) 

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 

1 Corinthians 4:4–5 (ESV) 

For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. 

Romans 2:1 (ESV) 

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 

Not only are we not to judge but we are among the judged.  If we dare to think we can pass judgment on others it is with that same strictness God will use to judge us.  

This leads us to our next point…

            B.  Do Not Be a Hypocrite

 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite

Jesus has already multiple times referred to the Pharisees as hypocrites.  They were more concerned with what people thought than what God thought.  He even said that they did practiced their righteousness to be seen by men.  Here, our Lord cautions us to not be hypocritical toward our Christian brothers and sisters.  

The parable He tells us is hyperbolic (it is an exaggeration to make a point).  We are often so quick to discover and point out the faults of others that we overlook even bigger things in ourselves.  Far too often we can spot the faults and sins of others a mile away but fail to see our own.  Another thing we can do is to exaggerate the faults of others while minimizing ours.

Jesus is not telling us that we can’t point out someone’s sin or address them one on one about something until our lives are perfect.  That’s sometimes how this passage is misinterpreted.  He is saying to not be overly critical and to consider your own sin as well.  

1 Corinthians 11:31 (ESV) 

31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 

The idea is that when we have a plank in our own eye it is extremely arrogant to squint to find a speck in our brother’s eye.  

Our Lord’s point is that the speck inspector or the fault finder or the overly critical and severe Christian will always overlook their own sin to be the first person to point out others.

Here’s a test: Would you rather discover new truth from God’s Word or point out where everyone else is wrong.  I know people who all they want to do is point to the faults and mistakes in other’s theology rather than look to Jesus and be overwhelmed with His glory and love. 

I’m always concerned when I get an email that says something like this: What is your church’s stance on this or that?  What do you think about social drinking or women in ministry or baptism or election or you name it.  They should be asking does your church preach and teach the Gospel?  Does your church believe the Bible?  Does your church worship and adore Jesus?

I personally love theology and doctrine.  I love the truths found in the Bible.  I love these things in so much as they point to the true Christ.     

            C.  Be a Brother to Your Brother

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 

Notice with me what Jesus is telling us to do and it’s not mind your own business and beloved we are, in fact, our brother’s keeper.  Jesus is telling to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  He is telling to be forward at times to be purposeful in helping our fellow Christians grow as believers and sometimes this requires removing the speck.  The challenge is to also remove the plank from our own eye.  

Matthew 18:15–17 (ESV) 

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

Your church doesn’t really do Church discipline does it?  Yes we do.  We are not out being overly critical but when there is a blatant sin we have approached folks in love to speak to them about a certain sin.  We want to be a biblical church and Church discipline is in the Bible. 

We are to exercise loving relationships for the good of all of us.  Jesus wants us to remove the speck (to be critical) but to also remove the log from our own eye (self-critical) as we go.  

We are not to go to them as their judge nor in hypocrisy but we are to go in love and sincerity.  

People say, “Oh, I don’t want to say anything. We just love everybody.” No, when you find sin and you tolerate it, you are hating your brother, not loving him. It is love that confronts; it is hate that ignores a fault and a sin and lets a person go in that path.  It’s hate that doesn’t warn their brother but love who comes along side to help.

Is there someone that you should speak to about some matter?  Go in love, prayer and self-criticism and help them grow as a believer.

Here’s a biblical picture of discipleship.  This is really what Jesus is talking about.

Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV) 

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

Stir up one another and encourage one another.

Now our Lord looks briefly at another situation we might find ourselves in.       

2.  Discernment Towards the Antagonists

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. 

Toward our brothers and sisters in Christ we are to be patient, loving, generous, and forgiving.  

When it comes to lost people we are to be those who proclaim the Good News to them diligently and lovingly.  We are to be longsuffering and endure with them consistently sharing the Gospel.

Here, Jesus tells us we are to be discerning and use our critical thinking and reasoning abilities.  We are not to simply and indiscriminantly witness blindly.    

Let’s just be candid like Jesus.  He doesn’t sugar coat this.  Beloved this is Jesus speaking.  Many think that Jesus is just this all-inclusive love everyone no matter what sort of Savior.  Look with me at what He says.

He calls those who adamantly reject the precious Gospel Dogs and Pigs.  The dogs Jesus is speaking about were the ones in the cities, mongrel, ugly, that scavenged around the city and ate the garbage; and they were a horrible, ugly wild dogs.  The pigs were not the domesticated pigs of today but filthy wild hogs around the outskirts.  These animals are the worst as far as giving them anything worth anything.  Jesus tells us that a person who time and time again rejects the Good News with animosity and hatred (you may know these types) are like wild animals with no sense or discernment.  These are those who when you hold out the bag of pearls do not see it for what it is but would rather knock the bag out of your hands and trample it into the mud.  I would remind us that we are to be patient and longsuffering with those who reject the Gospel but there also comes a time when their constant rejection cheapens to preciousness of the priceless Gospel.

What is Jesus saying?  There comes a time when they’ve proven precious pearls are worthless to them.  Like a wild hog who would trample them in the mud and then turn and try to attack you.

Acts 18:5–6 (ESV) 

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 

This is an example of what Jesus is speaking of.  Through their constant rejection Paul finally realized that the Jews he had been seeking to witness to were never going to listen so rather than sharing the Gospel over and over with no results he knew that there were others who had never heard the Gospel and they would listen.  

Jesus is wanting us to see how valuable the Gospel is and that there may be a time when you stop sharing it with someone who has viciously and antagonistically rejected it.

Acts 13:46–49 (ESV) 

46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, 

       “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, 

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” 

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

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