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April 24

Matthew 7:1-6

1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. 3 Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a beam of wood in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. 6 Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces. — Matthew 7:1-6

Judge Not

by Ron Camacho
Brentwood Campus

When the Lord sent His angels to get my attention, it was through rock music, choosing a 3-piece metal trio called Kings X to thunder His message. The song “Black Flag” has a satirical metaphor for the verse we are discussing today. “I woke up today—the usual way—looking through a 2 X 4,” and later, “There was a Black Flag on my morning, there was a Black Flag on my day, there was Black Flag on everything around me, and I was walking backwards again.”

Being a new follower of Christ, I had to search the Bible to find out the song’s meaning. Besides the eye-catching indictment of being called a “hypocrite,” both the song and today’s verse make it clear that what is actually being condemned is the mindset of a person who looks unfavorably on the character and actions of others. This inevitably leads to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, and hateful judgments upon others. The underlying meaning of the “Black Flag” in the song, and the meaning of our verse today, is the chronic hardening of our hearts that leads to a damning self-righteousness which we wave around as pride-filled banners.

Our unkind judgment of others will be returned to us as well, in the day when God judges the secrets of men. This revelation shines another light on the context here. If our hearts are in a constant state of self-righteous damnation, then we will be unable to fulfill the second greatest commandment of God: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Hence we render ourselves useless in the Kingdom work of God, which is a place we dare not find ourselves as Christians.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs” governs how we handle the gospel in the face of those who hate the truth. It calls for discernment. Still, it does not contradict Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies.”

The song “Black Flag” gives another biblical analogy when it speaks of “walking backwards again.” This analogy points to the Christian concept of  “backsliding,” which in general terms means to relapse into bad habits or sinful behavior. As Christians, we need to beware of how easy it is to fall into judgment of others as we are engulfed in a world of 24/7 news cycles. The challenge is to keep our hearts removed from the world and focused on the heart of Jesus.

Praxis

  1. Is your heart set on the things of Jesus or on the things of the world?
  2. Do you judge people by their race, color, social and economic background, or religious persuasion?
  3. Are you caught up in the partisan political and the social wars of the cable news networks?
  4. If your answer is yes—is this biblical? What would Jesus do? How can you change in order to keep your eyes on the cross?