The Sermon on the Mount

Day 23: Do Not Judge

Matthew 7:1-6, Matthew 13:44-46, Romans 2:1-11, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, James 5:7-11


“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A critical and judgmental nature robs us of true joy. Not only that, but it also blinds us to our sin and brokenness. Perhaps this is why it’s easier to judge than to spend time doing intentional and internal soul work.

Scripture attests that as believers, we’re called to be discerning and to take a stand for what is holy over and above what is immoral, unjust, and ungodly. This is different than the sort of judging Jesus addresses in Matthew 7.

A Matthew 7 sort of judgment is much like the kind Bonhoeffer describes in The Cost of Discipleship. It is judgment that seeks to deflect and put down, rather than to discern and lift up. Jesus calls us to be carefully and consistently practicing the discipline of spiritual introspection, working with the Holy Spirit to see into our hearts and souls.

I wonder; do you have a rhythm in place as a part of your time with the Lord where you carefully examine your inner life? Jesus indicates that this is an important practice for all of His followers. Not until we’ve addressed the beam in our own eye will He lead us to a place where we can speak meaningfully to the speck in the eye of a brother.

Here’s another question for consideration and reflection: have you been judging or holding a grudge against another as a way to avoid facing something in your own life that needs spiritual pruning? It’s all too easy to fall into this trap. Maybe it’s someone on social media who you’re silently judging? Maybe it’s an acquaintance from church, or a co-worker? Maybe, just maybe, it’s a family member?

The more you can relinquish any sort of judgment rooted in selfish motives, the more energy and attention you have freed up to focus on your own growth. It’s possible to miss the still, small voice of God nudging us to change, to grow, to commune with Him; we drown it out with our own loud voices of judgment and criticism.

I pray we’re all able to release this sort of self-righteous judgment to the Lord, so we can then begin to tune in to the voice of the Spirit at work in our hearts. He’s there, carefully and lovingly working with each of us to remove the logs lodged in our eyes, bits and pieces at a time. Let’s make sure we’re creating space for those conversations rather than feeding the fire of a blinding judgmental posture.  

Written by Andrew Stoddard