“Judge not” is far too often the only thing many people know about Matthew 7:1-5.
In addition, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24) appears to be completely unknown by many.
Such ignorance is serious.
In living your life, you can interact with your loved ones, friends, strangers, and enemies by either using unrighteous judgment or righteous judgment.
To be righteous, you must exercise righteous judgment, and it has the following characteristics:
It deliberately seeks to avoid using unrighteous judgment. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (vv. 1-2). Everyone of us has felt the cruel lash of a faultfinder, of a harsh and merciless critic, of a self-righteous lecturing hypocrite, of a false accusation which impugns pure motives. Who of us enjoyed such ungodly abuse? Who of us prefers such unrighteous judgment over righteous judgment? To treat others as you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12) is at the heart of righteous judgment.
It purposefully seeks to avoid hypocritical judgment. “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite!” (vv. 3-5a). Self-examination is a prerequisite to exercising righteous judgment. Such self-examination can easily result in genuine self-improvement as well as helping another. What a win-win situation righteous judgment makes possible!
It requires personal action. “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (v. 5). A seminal difference between a self-righteous fault finder like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12 and a person exercising righteous judgment is in the action taken. A fault finder feels superior and does nothing to help a brother with an irritating speck in his eye. A righteous judge removes the beam from his own eye and then meekly seeks to help his brother.
Are you using righteous judgment or unrighteous judgment in your social interactions with others?