As you may know, Brittany Maynard took her life because of a painful disease. Three weeks before her suicide, I had written an open letter to her, which was mentioned in a CNN article. In response, a few chose to leave comments on this blog in support of Brittany and her cause, which is fine, as we are all entitled to our opinions. Since my audience is mainly Christian, it was interesting to get some non-Christian perspectives. However, a theme that reoccurred in these comments is also often found within the Christian community–the misuse of Matthew 7:1–both in its interpretation and the illogical use. Many people believe that this verse states that we are not to be critical, or that we are not to judge the opinions of others.
Matthew 7:1 – The Correct Interpretation
One commenter who accused me of judging wrote the following: “You’re essentially saying ‘I wouldn’t do what you’re doing, because I have faith in Jesus’, and then go on to accuse her [Brittany Maynard] of selling herself short and buying into lies. That’s a judgment.”
Yes, that’s a judgment. So is “I love rain”.
Is it the sort of judgment mentioned in Matthew 7:1? No.
Let’s look at that verse:
Judge not, that you be not judged.
Seems simple enough; let’s continue to verse 2:
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
That also seems straightforward. Let’s read verses 3 and 4:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is the log in your own eye?
Let’s stop here and unpack all this.
Jesus is addressing the religious influencers of that time, the scribes and Pharisees, who were judging the hearts of men and pronouncing final judgments on them.
In response to this, Jesus told them not to stop judging, but how to judge. He told them not to judge hypocritically or with wrong motives, and that they should deal with their sin issues first; and then help a brother or sister with their sin issues. We see this in verse 5:
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
It is clear that we are to judge with the right motives and in love.
Let’s take a brief look at the remaining contents of this chapter. Included are:
- two gates – one leading to destruction and one leading to life
- false and true teaching
- the true way into the Kingdom
This tells us that further judging is needed–how else are we to distinguish between the opposites that are mentioned above?
Now that we know what kind of judging is wrong and what kind is biblically correct, let’s look at how this verse is further twisted and misinterpreted by many.
The Illogical Use of Matthew 7:1 – “Let Me Take a Moment and Judge You While I Tell You to Stop Judging”
I can hardly fault those outside the faith who do not study the Bible and who then go on to misinterpret Scripture; however, I can find error in the logical use of this verse. Due to the way that some commenters define judging–that I am judging simply because I voiced an opinion–they are “guilty” too of judging by telling me of their differing opinions.
Isn’t that like calling out a cheating card player, while you have an ace up your sleeve?
Or rather, isn’t this type of reasoning the hypocritical judging that Jesus told us not to do?
Friends, we are commanded to discern between right and wrong–so go on and continue to judge–biblically.
Soli Deo Gloria,