To Judge or Not to Judge: That is the Question

2.13.24 Devo Image

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 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. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”—Matthew 7:1–6 (NIV)

One of the things I least enjoyed during my year of teaching was having to break up fights. I don’t mean physical or aggressive fights, but rather the petty, name-calling fights my first graders got involved in. Student A would call Student B a mean name, giving Student B a sense of entitlement to call Student A something worse. Both students were readily able to find fault in the other person yet unwilling to admit their own. 

Jesus knew something about the human heart that we often ignore: We’re quick to see the sin in others, yet we, believing we are morally justified, are blinded by our pride and slow to recognize our shortcomings and need for grace. He spoke today’s passage to a mixed audience of religious leaders who pronounced judgment on those who did not uphold the law to their standard, as well as common Jewish people who might have felt subjugated by the burdensome laws they couldn’t keep. The Pharisees were quick to judge who was righteous and who was not while remaining oblivious to the sinfulness in their own hearts. But Jesus’ admonition is not just for the Pharisees, it’s for all of us, too.

And then Jesus says something that seems almost contradictory to His initial point: “Do not give dogs what is sacred, do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Isn’t this judging?

Jesus is displaying the difference between criticism and discernment. He’s teaching that we should be humble and acknowledge our sins before pointing out other people’s sins. At the same time, we also need to be wise and discerning when sharing the precious things of God with others. Jesus recognizes there are people who will profane, ridicule, and mock the gospel and, while our mission as believers is to share its message, we must know when and how to share it lest we be giving away something precious to those who don’t see its worth. 

This practice makes it pretty difficult to label and judge who we think “has it together” or who “needs to get it together” spiritually, but instead puts us in a place of humility—relying on God’s sovereignty as the perfect and holy judge who weighs hearts and motives. Our job is to offer grace to those around us and to lean on God’s wisdom to show us who to speak to and how.

Friend, be reminded that In God’s kingdom, we’ve all sinned and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23), but God’s love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). May we keep our hearts softened and humble to engage with others in love and grace, leaning on the Holy Spirit to show us how to edify, exhort, and point others to Christ. We can’t do it in our own strength, but we can in His.

Pause: Think about your relationships (roommates, friends, spouse, children). How do you react when they do something wrong? In those relationships, do you give more words of encouragement or criticism?

Practice: Next time you want to complain or critique someone, stop and pray for them instead. Ask how the Holy Spirit can guide your words to address the issue or consider whether you should say anything at all.

Pray: God, thank You for Your mercy. You alone search our hearts and know our motives and yet You choose to give us Your grace. Thank You for not treating us as our sins deserve, but instead, through Jesus, You make us righteous. Keep my heart from pride and give me the same grace You’ve given me to deal with those around me. Amen.

About the Author

Gabriella Bemis

Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.