Read: Matthew 7
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.” (Matthew 7:15-16a)
Jesus’ words hold a conundrum. He tells the crowd not to judge. Yet he follows this up with a series of instructions for godly discernment.
Jesus says we need to judge ourselves, examine our own faults and failings before eradicating them. Only when we judge ourselves may we judge others in ways that help them. Jesus says we should judge others enough to determine if they are “dogs” and “swine” (words which may possibly have been cultural slurs for Gentiles and religiously unclean people). Then when we’ve judged we can decide whether the sacred would be wasted on them. Jesus says we should judge prophets, people who claim to speak God’s message. We are to judge them by their “fruit”, the results of their life and ministry. When we have judged them, we’ll know whether to listen to their words or reject their message.
All this judging is perhaps more correctly described as discernment – distinguishing between right and wrong, righteous and unrighteous. In all this discernment, we must be careful, because God will judge us just as harshly and strictly as we judge others.
It is wrong to be judgemental, but discernment is right.
LORD God Almighty,
You have set a plumb line in the heavens. Your Son said, “No one comes to the Father, except by me.” You say through the apostles, “No other name is given to men by which they must be saved.”
Your Son spoke of ferocious wolves, of weeds planted among wheat, of rootless plants that flourish briefly before falling away. Not all who claim to know you and say they speak truth do so. Please make me faithful, honest and righteous in all I say and do to glorify your name.
Please grant me discernment to know when to listen and when to block my ears.
Please grant me discernment to know when to agree and when to disagree.
Please grant me discernment to identify the planks in my own eye as well as any false prophets in my own denomination.
Please enable my discernment to be godly and wise.