This Sunday my pastor asked me to teach in our Community Service, and he–probably unwisely ;)–gave me total freedom as to subject. I’m going to look at Matthew 7:1-5 both this week and probably next. It’s a passage I often use in my counseling ministry; it reminds us of our bias towards self. We really think the other person in conflict is wronger than us, but we are hobbled in making that judgment because of our inability to see ourselves clearly.
Verse 1 tells us not to judge others, but it doesn’t mean what most unbelievers think it means. It’s not a blanket condemnation of making evaluations about others. We know this because in the same chapter we are told that we can make some evaluations of others (7:6, 19-20). It is a command not to sinfully judge or condemn others.
Years ago I developed this chart to help me understand the difference. Hopefully it helps you too.
By the way, I hesitated to call it discernment because of the misuse of that word by so-called discernment ministries online. However, it’s a biblical word that should be rescued, and maybe by emphasizing grace, I will contribute to a more accurate understanding of it.
|Sinfully Judging||Graciously Discerning|
|To condemn someone (often based on personal opinion). To act in the place of God. |
Rom 14:3–4 (ESV) Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 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.
|To see things as they really are, as God describes them in His Word. |
Phil 1:9 (ESV) And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, Heb 5:14 (ESV) But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
|Will be spiritually blind to my own lack in the same area (Mt 7:3-4).||Will thoroughly examine myself first (Mt 7:3-4; Gal 6:1).|
|Will be eager to tell about another’s failure. |
1 Cor 13:6a (ESV) [Love] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing….
|Will deal with the matter as privately as possible (Mt 18).|
|Will feel superior because of their failure. “I’m better than that.”||Will grieve because of their failure. “I’m very much like that.”|
|Will base opinions on hearsay. |
John 7:24, 51 (ESV) Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”
Jam 4:11 (ESV) Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
|Will be concerned with accuracy. |
Prov 18:13 (ESV) If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Will go to him to get the story straight (Mt 18).
Luke 17:3 (ESV) Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, [Has the idea of rebuking tentatively. You might not have the whole story.]
|Rejects a sinning brother. |
2 Cor 2:6–8 (ESV) For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.
|Restores a sinning brother (Mt 18; Lk 17:3; Gal 6:1).|
Here are the differences I see. Are there any contrasts that you would add?