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17 November, 2014

Christ Forbids Hypocritical Judgment - Matthew 7:1-6

By Favell Lee Mortimer (1802—1878)

The Lord Jesus had been warning his disciples against many of the evil practices of the Pharisees. There was no sin to which they were more addicted than to "judging." They did not judge righteous judgment, according to the word of God; but they judged according to their own wicked passions. Because they hated Christ, they endeavored to find faults in his conduct, and accused him of breaking the Sabbath, of encouraging sinners, and of being a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber. The men of the world still walk in the steps of the Pharisees—they are continually looking with a malicious eye for faults in the children of God, and attributing wrong motives to all their actions.

We may be sure that such judgment is sinful, because it is passed in a spirit of hatred. In how different a spirit the Christian judges! He cannot but know that the world lies in wickedness; he sees it with grief, and exerts all his powers to persuade sinners to flee from the wrath to come. By this rule we may know whether we are judging righteously or unrighteously. Do we rejoice over the faults of others, or do we lament over them! If we are seeking for their faults, and watching for their halting, then we have the spirit of the Pharisees, who maliciously watched the conduct of Christ and his disciples; then we may be sure that we are offending God, that we shall be judged by him, and that with the same measure we judge others, will be measured to us; for "he shall have judgment without mercy that has shown no mercy." (James 2:13.) It is in this spirit that irreligious people judge those whom they call "evangelicals and saints." They accuse them of hypocrisy, and of pride; they watch their conduct with an eagle's eye, and triumph over their infirmities with a demon's joy. Such people have a beam in their own eye. This beam prevents them from seeing their own sins. We may be assured, that if we do not see ourselves to be very great and miserable sinners, there is a beam of unbelief in our eyes which prevents our seeing it. While we cannot see our own sins, we cannot see the sins of others aright. What we call sins in them, perhaps are not sins. We do not know how to reprove until we have discovered what sinners we ourselves are.

But when God, by his converting grace, takes the beam out of our eyes, then we may help our brother to overcome his sins. Then we shall warn him in a spirit of humility and love, feeling our own unworthiness, and anxious for his good.

But there are some characters, in dealing with whom great caution must be used. Hypocrites may be compared to dogs and swine. As these animals feed on carrion and the vilest garbage, so hypocrites delight in sin. It would be wrong to give holy food, such as the priests ate, to dogs; and it would be foolish to cast pearls, such as queens wear, to swine.

But is it wrong or foolish to declare the holy and precious word of God to wicked men? O no—for Jesus said to his apostles, "Preach the gospel to every creature." But when men, having heard the truth, trample it under foot by their blasphemies, and turn and rend by their revilings, those who speak it, then they must be left to themselves. In this manner the apostle Paul dealt with the wicked Jews of Corinth. "And when they opposed them and blasphemed, he shook his clothing." "Your blood be upon your own heads—I am clean—from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles!" (Acts 18:6.) Thus the apostle left the dogs and swine, that he might feed the sheep committed to his charge