Relationship Advice: Don’t Judge & Realistic Expectations

(Today's post by James Rooks)

Matthew 7:1-12

1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 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. 6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. – Mat 7:1-12 NASB

I've always read and heard quoted Matthew 7:1 a certain way. It was as if Jesus was daring us to judge others or else He would judge us more harshly. I had a hard time reconciling the two as I had always thought that God's measurement (the Law) was equal in leaving us all in a state of need of His grace. How could one person be measured with the law any different than anyone else? Not possible. Let me offer a different take on this.

If you tie together verse twelve with the first five verses in this passage, you'll see that it's really a lesson on relationships. Imagine Jesus sitting you down to give you the perfect relationship advice…here's what it would sound like. It's all about how you treat others. If you judge others, they'll judge you back. If you judge others harshly, they'll judge you harshly in return. Don't go around pointing out other people's minor imperfections when you aren't willing to surrender to me the major issues that you have. Don't be hypocritical; start getting yourself right, and then you can go help your brothers.

The majority of relationship breakdowns that occur happen when we botch this teaching. Whether it be marriage, family, friend, work, or church relationships, no one handles harsh judging well, especially when it comes from someone who seems to be oblivious to their own obvious faults. Now contrast that with someone who is humbly working out things in their own life approaching you with rebuke? Still not fun, right? But definitely a whole lot more effective than the first example.

The next portion of scripture is interesting. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” It seems to depart from the previous five verses, but actually continues the thought when put in context of how we ought to deal with pointing out other's problems or faults. If the first five verses are about how believers ought to deal with each other, then verse six is how believers ought to deal with unbelievers. We set ourselves up for failure when we expect Christ-like behavior out of someone who is not a Christ follower. It's like getting the cart before the horse. For the unbeliever, the most important thing isn't getting the speck or plank out of their eye. It is knowing and following Jesus….anything else would be like throwing pearls to swine.

Again, I'm amazed at the nuggets to be found in scripture, even a short passage like Matthew 7:1-12 from today's reading plan. Jesus' words and teaching weren't just good back then. They prove to be timeless in their effect even today. 2 Timothy 3:16 still holds true: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

If we take today's words to heart and put them into practice, how would the relationships we have with others be different?

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