- 9 min read

Matthew 7:1-6 (Walking with Imperfect People) 😵‍💫

On this page


Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

The foundation of the Kingdom of God is an unshakable JOY that GROWS from the bottom up.

Overall Commentary: 🌎

The text is a continuation of the most recognizable sermon in history. The King Himself is setting the foundation for the Kingdom of God. It is His manifesto for the way things were always supposed to be. He is healing us from the inside out. In chapter five, He teaches us how to heal by taking personal responsibility. Chapter six teaches us how to interact with God and see Him as our Heavenly Father. This gives us the courage to live a life of generosity and not allow worry to steal our confidence in Him. Now, Jesus pivots into His final flourish of Kingdom ethics. This time, He aims to help us understand how we interact with others in the Kingdom. For most people, their private battle has a first and last name. Let's dive into how we relate to others in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus says unshakable joy grows as I learn to walk with imperfect people, JUST LIKE ME.

In the Jewish mind, judgment was either complete or non-existent. There was no scale. It was all or nothing. The Pharisees particularly seem to be focused on casting judgment. When we read the Sermon on the Mount, much of Jesus' criticism was focused on them. His goal is to use them as an example of what not to do. He will teach us how to live with other imperfect people and thrive properly.

Verses 1-2: Jesus says we never criticize motivation, but we do EVALUATE ACTIONS.

Cross-references: Luke 6:37, Romans 2:1-2, James 4:11-12, Luke 6:41, Romans 14:10-13, James 2:13, Mark 4:24, Obadiah 1:15,

Judge- The Greek word here is very general and can be used in various ways, much like the English word for snow. Multiple types of precipitation can all receive the title of snow. This word is a lot like that. In this context, this word means casting a permanent sentence upon someone else. We do not sit in the seat of judgment toward others. A modern term would be criticism.

This verse is possibly the most quoted in the Bible, especially by none Christians. When someone says we are not to judge, we all know what they are saying. Most people don't mind if we judge them as long as it is positive. No one ever said, "Don't you dare say I am the most handsome man you've ever seen!" Instead, this verse seems to be thrown around whenever something we don't like is said.

The problem also comes because most people take this verse to one extreme or another. We tend to think it means we should never have anything to say about anything, or we think it means we will not have anything to say so that God will let us off the hook too.

Jesus walks a fine line down the middle. He is neither saying we cannot ever use discernment nor that we should turn a blind eye to the suffering of others.

For those who would say this verse means we can never evaluate the lives of others. All of the rest of the Bible would disagree with you. We will even discuss verses later in this chapter that teach us how to evaluate the actions of others with wisdom. It would seem odd that Jesus would tell us not to judge, then precedes to tell us how to judge with understanding. Even in follow text teaches us how to resolve conflict. If we are not allowed to judge actions, how would we ever be able to find conflict to begin with accurately?

(‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭15‬-‭17‬) If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

Jesus wants to be able to evaluate the actions of others for their sake and ours. However, we are warned not to criticize motivation. That is God's job alone.

Why not criticize motivation?

1- We don’t know all the DETAILS.
It is impossible to know the details of another. You are fighting a losing battle when you try to act like you know what someone is thinking.

2- We are not IMPARTIAL.
We all bring our presuppositions into any situation. Therefore, we are not an impartial jury. We are a sum of our experiencing, education, and pain.

3- We are not GOD.
Only God truly knows all our hearts' thoughts, intents, and hopes. He knows us and loves us anyway. He is the only one who can be trusted to be just in everything.

Joy grow as I realize it’s okay to notice the fruit on the tree. It’s not okay to CHOP IT DOWN.

We have just discovered another area we can grow. My joy is realizing I can help others but no longer have to sit in the seat of judgment. I can notice the pain others are experiencing due to sin in their life, but I no longer have to feel as though their judgment is in my hands. I can let God do the convicting, while I walk with them toward healing. The next question is, "How?"

Verses 3-5. Jesus says we never criticize motivation, but WE GO FIRST.

Cross-references: Galatians 6:1, John 8:7-9. Luke 6:41-42, 2 Samuel 12:5-6, Psalm 50:16-21, 2 Chronicles 28:9-10

We have discussed that Jesus is not saying we do not evaluate the actions of others. We simply do not sit in the seat of criticism. This is a difficult place to be in because our insecure hearts often want to compare ourselves to the lives of others so we can decide how we're doing. This is unfortunate because when we do, we may find ourselves choosing to become a "life coach" and help this poor soul out. The good news is Jesus is way ahead of us. He knows our hearts. Therefore, He uses a hilarious illustration to help us see the error of our ways.

Speck- Small piece of wood about the size of a splinter.

Plank- Likely a foundational board of wood. This would have been hilarious because it would have been too big to even fit in someone's eye.

Jesus is calling on His background as a carpenter to create this silly narrative to point out how ridiculous we look. We think we are helping when we are actually in worse shape.

Jesus didn't scold anyone for noticing our friend needed help. He is saying we have it in the wrong order. If we genuinely want to help our friend, we must go first. Later, Paul said it this way to the church in Philippi.

(Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭12‬b-‭15‬ ) Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”

From this text, we can see why we go first?

1- You can experience God’ POWER.
When we go first, we get to experience the power of God ourselves. Imagine how much this will help when walking with someone else! We can share the power of God with them too!

2- You can grow in COMPASSION.
When walking with someone, it can be challenging to do so unless we have walked a mile in their shoes first. When we do, we understand the pain, understand the mental struggle, and have patience because we once needed it too. We go first so we can walk slowly through the difficulties of life.

3- You can become a living EXAMPLE.
We become an example of what God can do. Notice that Jesus said our issue was much more significant than theirs. If God can get a plank out of my eye, there's no speck that can stand in His way.

Joy grows as I realize I can share FREEDOM WITH OTHERS.

Verse 6. Jesus says we never criticize motivation, but GOD IS STILL HOLY.

Cross-references: Proverbs 9:7-8, Proverbs 23:9, Matthew 10:14-15, Proverbs 26:11, Acts 13:45-47, Philippians 3:2

This final warning by Jesus is a debated topic by scholars. There are mainly two "schools of thought" on this. The first says that Jesus refers to the fact that the Kingdom came first to the Jews, then the Gentiles. Therefore, they were not to share the Gospel with them yet. (I am not a fan of this one.) The second states Jesus is referring to the fact that many people are not on a "truth quest" but a "happiness quest." They are not interested in God but what He can give them in this life. This becomes a problem because well-meaning Christians have given in to this and turned churches into something closer to a "time-share presentation" or a used car lot. We even say cool statements like, "We'll do anything short of sin to reach people for the Kingdom." This sounds great, and the heart is right. However, it is not the ease of access that reaches people. It is the fact that only a holy God can take care of the sin problem we all have. There needs to be a return of the 'Holy Awe" of God. God's Word says...

(‭‭Romans‬ ‭14‬:‭10‬) So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

When we realize that God is holy and we are not, we know we don't choose what the Gospel is. We may choose how we present the Gospel, but the bottom line is that God is holy. If people are unwilling to approach Him as holy, they will not approach Him at all. Jesus warns His disciples not to continue to be a line drawn in the sand where we say, "I'll never give up on you, but I will not compromise the Gospel. My King is Holy, and He doesn't change for you. You must change for Him." That may sound harsh, but He is the King. We live at His pleasure.

Joy grows as I realize I am not called to be the kingdom CRITIC. I am free to cheer people on toward FREEDOM.

Resources For Further Study

Stop Criticizing
Teaching Series by Paul LeBoutillier
Romans 7:1-6 "The Believer and the Law"
Pastor Chuck Smith

Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus teaches His disciples not to judge other people because they will be judged according to the same standard they use to criticize others. He illustrates this point with the humorous image of a man with a log coming out of his eye trying to help remove a speck of dust in his brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5 | Sacred Space
Enduring Word Bible Commentary Matthew Chapter 7
Bible Commentary Tools from David Guzik
Judging Others: A Closer Look at Matthew 7:1
One could easily argue that Matthew 7:1 is by far the most frequently misapplied verse in the entire Bible, used and abused by both Christians and non-Christians alike.
What does it mean to judge not lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1)? | GotQuestions.org
What does it mean to judge not lest ye be judged? What is the meaning of Matthew 7:1?