Let us not criticize.




[Matthew 7:1-6]



Do you think trust in Korean Christians is gradually declining?  If so, why do you think the Korean church is being criticized?  On November 16, 2012, at the Reformation Forum (theme: ‘Is it possible for a second Reformation?’) held at the Korean Association of Christian Professors, the most fundamental reason why the Korean church is receiving social criticism is said to be as follows:  Because of the separated lives and beliefs of Christians.'  Professor In-cheol Han of Yonsei University pointed out that the biggest problem of Korean Protestantism is the 'separation of faith and life', and pointed out that Korean Christians believe in Jesus, but they do not need to live like Jesus.  He also pointed out that the most fundamental reason Christians cannot reproduce the life of Jesus is because they believe in Jesus, but do not want to live like Jesus.  In other words, his point is that even though we, Christians, believe in Jesus and be saved and go to heaven, we are being criticized by the world because we do not want to live like Jesus (Internet).  What do you think?  Why do you think we Christians are being criticized?


In today's text, Matthew 7:1, Jesus says, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned”(AMPC).  I would like to meditate on today's text under the title “Let us not criticize” focusing on this verse today.  I hope and pray that you and I will be obedient by receiving the three lessons God gives us.


          First, we must not criticize.


Look at Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned”(AMPC).  Do you know the difference between “criticism” and “judgment”?  Looking at the Internet Naver dictionary, the word “criticism” is defined like this: ‘To judge or clarify the right or wrong of things.’  And there are synonyms ‘criticism, judgment, critique’ (Internet).  And while the word “judgment” is defined as ‘the work of deliberation on a problematic case and making a judgment,’ in Christianity, the word “judgment” is defined as ‘God punishes the sins of man and the world or something like that’ (Internet).  The reason I looked up the definitions of these two words is to understand in more detail the meaning of Jesus’ words, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others …” in today’s text.  In today's text, Matthew 7:1, when Jesus said, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others,” that “judge” does not mean that we should not “criticize” in the Naver dictionary, that is, ‘judging or revealing things according to whether they are or not.’  Also, Jesus’ words “Do not judge and criticize and condemn” do not forbid character criticism related to hiring a person, nor does it forbid criticism of a person who is in good faith valid (not slander).  What Jesus forbids here, like the Pharisees, is to become a judge and criticize or condemn others (Internet).  In fact, the word ‘judge, criticize or condemn’ in today’s text is the original Greek word “krinete” (κρίνετε), which means “to judge” (Internet).  In other words, Jesus said, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned.”  Why did Jesus forbid judgment?  The reason is because judgment and condemnation can only be done by God.  In other words, since God is the only judge, we should not sit in God's seat and judge others.  So the Apostle James says in James 4:11-12: “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor” 


Who are we to judge our neighbors?  Who are we to judge our neighbors?  One interesting thing here is that the Apostle James says: “He that slanders his brother, or judges his brother, blasphemes the law and judges the law” (v. 11).  That is, James uses the words “slander” and “judge” in the same context.  It means that we should not sit in the judge's seat and judge our neighbors, nor should we slander.  Here, the phrase “do not slander each other” is interpreted in the Naver dictionary’s meaning as ‘do not mock at each other or speak slander’ (Internet).  When interpreted in its original Greek meaning, it means ‘do not condemn each other personally’ or ‘find fault with each other’ (Friberg).  But the problem is that in the church, we Christians are violating this word and finding faults with each other and condemning each other.   In other words, now we are sitting in the judge's seat judging our neighbors.  This was the case with the Roman Church at the time of the Apostle Paul.  So Paul said to the Roman church members in Romans 2:1-3: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?”  Why did the Roman church members judge each other?  Why did the Jewish saints condemn their Gentile brothers?  The reason was because the Jewish believers had a sense of spiritual superiority.  In other words, because they were proud, they judged and condemned the Gentile brothers.  And they were so proud that they did not know that they were doing the same thing.  Therefore, they mistakenly thought that they could escape God's judgment.  Have you ever actually experienced something like this?  Have I ever realized that after seeing the behavior of the other person, I judged and condemned him in my heart, and later, I myself did the same or at least a similar thing to that person?  This seems to be what we are.  We compare ourselves with other brothers and sisters in Christ, mistakenly believe that we are better than others, and have a sense of spiritual superiority.  Why are we doing that?  The reason is because we are proud.  Therefore, we must guard against pride.  We need to be very wary of the feeling of spiritual superiority in our hearts.  In particular, we must be very wary of replacing the consciousness of grace with a consciousness of privilege and merit in our hearts.  Otherwise, we too, like the Roman church members, will commit the sin of judging and condemning one another against God.


Why should we not judge and condemn one another?  Why shouldn't we criticize each other?  This is why Jesus is telling us in today's text, Matthew 7:2: “For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you” (AMPC).  The reason we should not criticize one another is that we may not be criticized for it (v. 2).  In a nutshell, we must not criticize in order that we may not be criticized (v. 1).  We must not judge (condemn) our neighbors in order that we may not be judged (condemned).  We must not weigh our neighbors, lest we be weighed (v. 2).  Personally, as I meditated on today's text Matthew 7:1, I was reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:3-4: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.  My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.  It is the Lord who judges me.”  Paul considered it very little to be judged by the Corinthians or by others.  In other words, Paul didn't care much about the judgment of believers or unbelievers.  Even more surprising, Paul did not judge himself.  What do you think?  Do you understand?  How could Paul not care so much about the judgments of others?  How could he not have judged himself?  Doesn’t Paul’s word sound arrogant for some reason?  Paul was able to do this because he knew that it was the Lord who could only judge him.  In other words, Paul did not have himself or others sit in the judge's seat, but rather the Lord who should have been seated in his seat.  So he didn't care too much about others' judgment and he didn't judge himself either.  What should we do?  Look at Luke 6:37 – “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  We must not criticize.  We must not condemn.  We must forgive each other.  And we must listen to Romans 14:10 – “You, then, why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you look down on your brother?  For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.” 


Second, we must get rid of hypocrisy.


          Look at Matthew 7:5 – “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.”  Who is hypocrite?  We think that a hypocrite is a different person from the outside.  And a hypocrite is different from the outside, and he focuses on the outside more than the inside.  So, although the outward appearance of the hypocrite may be pleasing to people, his inner man has sinful appearances that are not worthy in the sight of God.  A more biblical expression of this hypocritical Christian is one who has the appearance of godliness but denies the power of godliness (2 Tim.3:5).  In the Old Testament, the hypocrites refer to people who say that there is no God or who do not believe in God (Job 8:13; 15:34-35; 17:8; Isa. 9:17; 33:14).  And the hypocrites completely oppose God, saying there is no God.  In the New Testament, it is particularly well shown in the teachings of Jesus.  They hypocrites pray for their own purpose rather than God's will.  And the hypocrites want people's praise (Jesus said in Matthew 6:2, the hypocrite seeks to be glorified by men).  These hypocrites judge the sins of others, ignoring their own faults (Mt. 7:1-5).  Then who were the typical hypocrites at the time of Jesus?  It was the Pharisees who were the religious leaders.  In fact, Jesus often called the Pharisees hypocrites.  The reason was because there was a contradiction between their outward and inward attitudes (15:1-9).  I think Matthew 23 is the chapter where the most mention of hypocrites is.  Religious leaders like the Pharisees in Jesus' day did not do what they preached (23:3).  So Jesus compared them to whitewashed tombs that are dirty on the inside but pretend to be clean on the inside (23:25-28) (Internet).  But the question is, were there really such hypocrites only at the time of Jesus?  Aren’t there many hypocrites even in this age?  Could it be that we are not the hypocrites Jesus is talking about?  In particular, as Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-6, aren’t we ignoring our own shortcomings while judging (condemning) the sins of others?  While we cannot see our own great faults or sins, we must not condemn those whom we see the smallest faults or sins of other brothers in the church.  If we are committing this sin now, Jesus is saying this in today's text in Matthew 7:3-4: “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?”  Here, “the speck” that Jesus is talking about refers to a speck of sawdust or a piece of wood or broken glass.  How small is the speck of sawdust, the piece of wood or the piece of broken glass?  But the amazing thing is that the hypocrite sees the speck in his brother's eye.  How is this possible?  How can the hypocrites see the small flaws of his brother?  The reason is because the hypocrite does not see his own plank before God and His holy Word.  In other words, the hypocrite does not see his own great flaws, so he sees the smallest flaws in others.


If we can see the faults of other brothers and sisters in the church, it is proof that we are not seeing our own faults to that extent.  And if we actually say that we know our own shortcomings, but criticize the other's brothers and sisters enough to ignore them in our hearts, then we are being hypocritical.  If we are being hypocritical now, we would be conscious of the people of the church, pretending to be clean and holy in our outward appearance, but our hearts would not actually be so clean and holy.  In doing so, we will try to tell our other brothers and sisters that we must be clean and holy and teach them to live that way.  A good example of hypocrisy is found in Galatians 2:11-14.  Immediately, Peter was being hypocritical in front of the Gentiles and withdrew from them (v. 12), for fear of some Jewish circumcision who had come from James of the church in Jerusalem.  When the Apostle Paul saw this, he faced Peter and rebuked him (v. 11).  Why did Paul rebuke Peter?  The reason was because Peter's hypocrisy was not to walk rightly according to the truth of the gospel (v. 14).  Paul rebuked Peter in front of all: “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”  What does it mean?  Paul rebuked Peter, a true Jew who was justified through faith in Jesus Christ alone (v. 16), for acting as a “Gentile sinner” (v. 15), because he wanted to be justified by works of the law (v. 15).  In particular, Paul rebuked Peter for not living like a true Jew (Christian), but how he tried to make Gentile sinners live like a true Jew (Christian).  I applied this rebuke to us like this: 'When you, as Christians, have been saved by believing in Jesus Christ only by the grace of God, why do you want to forsake that sense of grace and have a sense of merit to gain salvation by your works?  Are you living like the Pharisees?'  If our Christian life focuses on our own good deeds or acts of service, not ‘by the grace of God alone’, and records those good deeds in our hearts, then we are being hypocritical.  As a result, we will seek our own glory rather than the glory of God.  And the gap between our inner man and our outer man will widen.  So the form of godliness may look good to people, but our hearts and our inner man are more and more distant from God.  Thus, we will be sinning against God.  And yet, our conscience is sealed (1 Tim. 4:2) that we feel no remorse, and will continue to live our familiar religious and hypocritical lives.  What should we do?  We must listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 23:25-26: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”  We must first clean our insides.  We must first remove the plank in our eye (7:5).  We must first examine ourselves with the Holy Word of God.  We must diligently reflect our minds in that spiritual mirror.  And when God exposes our sins with His holy Word and pierces our conscience, we must confess our sins to God and repent by relying on the power of the blood shed on the cross of Jesus.  Then, like hypocrites, we only respect God with our lips, and our hearts can not be far from God (Mk. 7:6).  And like hypocrites, we will not give alms or service to others in order to gain their glory.  We will no longer try to appear to people as righteous (Mt. 23:28).


           Third and final, we must make judgments.


                Look at Matthew 7:6 – “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 then turn and tear you to pieces.”  In today's text, Matthew 7:1, when Jesus said, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others”, it does not mean that you should not judge at all.  Although we should not judge, criticize or condemn others as a judge according to Jesus' words, we must make the right judgment.  Here, right judgment is not judging by appearance, as John 7:24 says, but judging righteously.  And to judge justly is to discern between good and evil.  The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:15 that “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things.”  Therefore, as spiritual people, we must judge all things, especially we must discern spiritual things (v. 13).  We must listen to what the Apostle John says in 1 John 4:1 – “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  We must be discerning.  We must discern whether the spirits are of God.  The reason is because many false prophets have come out of this world.  Also, the spiritual thing we need to discern spiritually is to distinguish what is from God (v. 14) and what is from this world (v. 12).  For example, in 1 John 2:16-17, the Bible says: “For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”  Clearly the Bible says that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life do not come from God the Father, but from this world.  Another example is that we must discern the wisdom that comes down from heaven in James 3 and the wisdom that comes from the earth (Jam. 3:15).  The wisdom from this earth is to boast and to deny the truth when we harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in our hearts (v. 14).  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (v. 17).  We must distinguish between the holy and the profane, between the unclean and the clean (Lev. 10:10).

                In today's text, Matthew 7:6, Jesus says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.”  What does it mean?  As God's holy people, we must not give holy things to dogs or pigs.  Dogs and pigs here are unclean animals according to the Mosaic Law, and in today's text they refer to the wicked (MacDonald).  And the wicked don't value what we have to advise them (Keener).  Look at the Bible Proverbs 11:22 – “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”  Can you imagine a gold ring on a pig's nose?  Does it suit?  Do pigs value gold rings?  Of course not.  Pigs do not value gold rings.  Now Jesus is telling us not to give to the wicked who do not value what is holy.  So what is “sacred” that Jesus is talking about here?  In the Old Testament, there are many references to “sacred”.  In those words, “a sacred anointing oil” (Exod. 30:25), “a sacred assembly” (Lev. 23:7, 35; Deut. 28:18, 25), “the sacred linen tunic” (Lev. 16:4), “the sacred diadem” (Exod. 29:6), “sacred garments” (Exod. 28:2), 'the sacred stones' (Exod. 34:13), etc.  However, in the New Testament, 2 Peter 2:21 says, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”  Considering this word, I think that the “sacred” that Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7:6 seems to be “the sacred commands”.  In other words, I think Jesus was saying not to give the holy command or the holy word to the wicked who do not value it.  The basis for my thinking is in Acts 13:46-48: “Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ‘We had to speak the word of God to you first.  Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.  For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’  When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”  Paul and Barnabas first preached the word of God to the Jews.  But they turned to the Gentiles because they rejected the holy word and considered themselves unworthy of eternal life.  But those Gentiles heard the holy word of God and rejoiced, praising God's word, and all those who God decided to give them eternal life believed in Jesus.  In the same way, like Paul and Barnabas, we must judge wisely and not give the holy word to the wicked who do not value it and reject it.  But we must turn around and preach the gospel to those who value it, hear it and rejoice in it.  But the problem is that we Christians are losing judgment (discerning) now (Deut. 32:28).  How can we know this?  As an example, we can see that the disputes that arise in the church are taken to the world court.  Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 6:5 – “I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?”  To say that there is not one among us so wise to judge the strife between brothers is evidence that we are losing our judgment now.  When I think about what the cause is because we do not value the holy word of God like “dogs” and “pigs” as Jesus said in Matthew 7:6.  Therefore, we are losing our spiritual judgment because we do not delight in hearing the word of God and do not meditate on it day and night.  As a result, we are becoming more and more hypocrites (v. 5).


                What should we do?  First, we must love the holy word of God.  Therefore, we should delight in hearing the holy word of God.  And we must meditate on that word day and night.  We should also pray to God to give us His judgment as the psalmist prayed to God: “We should also pray to God to give us His judgment as the psalmist prayed to God” (Ps. 72:1).  Therefore, we must judge for ourselves what is right with the wisdom and judgment that God gives us (Lk. 12:57).

Now, we Christians are being criticized a lot by the people of the world.  Now the world is condemning us Christians.  Why are we being criticized by the world right now?  The reason is because we Christians are hypocrites.  Since we are hypocrites, we are being criticized by the world.  Now we are condemning not seeing the log in our own eyes, but seeing the speck in the eyes of the world.  And now we Christians are trying to get the specks out of the eyes of the world.  Therefore, the people of the world who see our hypocrisy are saying to us Christians, ‘You are hypocrites.  You should do well.’  What should we do?  We must face our hypocrisy with the right judgment that God gives us.  And we must admit and confess our hypocrisy, repent and throw it away (1 Pet. 2:1).  We no longer have to honor God with our lips.  We must respect God with all our hearts (refer to Mk. 7:6).  Therefore, we no longer need to look like Christians only on the outside.  But we must live as disciples of Jesus who are truly in harmony with the outside.  We must not only believe in Jesus, but also become truthful Christians who live like Jesus.  Then we will no longer be criticized by the world.  Rather, they will truly call us “Christians” (Acts 11:26).  Therefore, I hope and pray in the name of Jesus that we all can glorify the Lord.