Matthew 7:1-6

7.1 Μὴ κρίνετε, ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε· 7.2 ἐν ᾦ γὰρ κρίματι κρίνετε κριθήσεσθε, καὶ ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖν. 7.3 τί δὲ βλέπεις τὸ κάρφος τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου, τὴν δὲ ἐν τῷ σῷ ὀφθαλμῷ δοκὸν οὐ κατανοεῖς; 7.4 ἢ πῶς ἐρεῖς τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου· ἄφες ἐκβάλω τὸ κάρφος ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἡ δοκὸς ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ σου; 7.5 ὑποκριτά, ἔκβαλε πρῶτον ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου τὴν δοκόν, καὶ τότε διαβλέψεις ἐκβαλεῖν τὸ κάρφος ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.

7.6 Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσίν, μηδὲ βάλητε τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων, μήποτε καταπατήσουσιν αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῶν καὶ στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν ὑμᾶς.

7.1 Do not judge, that you may not be judged; 7.2 for you will be judged using the same judgment you judge by, and by the measure you measure with it will be measured to you. 7.3 And why do you recognize the splinter in your brother’s eye but fail to consider the beam in your own eye? 7.4 Or, how will you say to your brother, “Allow me to pluck the splinter out of your eye,” and behold the beam in your own eye. 7.5 Hypocrite, first pull the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to pull the splinter out of your brother’s eye.

7.6 Don’t give the holy thing to dogs, nor throw your pearls in front of the pigs – otherwise they will trample them and turning, tear you into pieces.

Between verse 1 and 2, I ‘m sure one could make a great Greek tongue twister, like English’s, “Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore.” There are four uses of the verb κρίνω, in three forms, plus a related noun, κρίματι, in the dative. Then In parallel are two uses of the verb μετρέω, plus μέτρῳ, another dative form of a noun related to the verb in use. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Is your tongue numb yet?”

Verse 3 has the well-known comparison between the “chaff” or dry, withered material and the “beam”. Jesus speaks the question for consideration: Why do we take note of the small matter affecting our brother but fail to carefully consider the larger matter looming for us? A great use of exaggeration, “beam in your eye,” to be sure! But the point is clear. It is laughable (or sad? – choose you emotion for awe) that we find it so easy to judge harshly the minor defects in others yet fail to see the glaring flaws in our own lives. Or we see the small mistakes of others and do not equally judge the great failures we have been caught up in.

Verses 4 and 5 further illuminate the comic situation. Not only do we perceive other’s problems with much greater ease, we feel compelled to offer assistance. And the brother is sitting there thinking, “Um, why don’t you take care of your own issue first!” Jesus calls one who acts as this beam-eyed judge a hypocrite – deceived, taken-in. This makes one start to question which is worse, deceiving others with false acts of righteousness or being self-deceived about your condition. Not to say that those are mutually exclusive! In Matthew Jesus paints both groups with the paintbrush hypocrite. You might say both groups have failed to take part in “reality”.

Verse 6 has always struck me as odd. Seems slightly out of place. But I might start to make some sense of it. We are not to judge others – judging here having a negative connotation. The other side of that is that even if you do your best, others will judge you. Those who are not obeying Jesus words will find fault in whatever you do; good, bad or indifferent. It puts us right back in the idea that what we do should not be for the view of other men. For men are not to judge or seek to be judged. They are to work out their righteousness to God alone.

Taken another way, we might read that we are to not give our words and thoughts and energy to those who would be spiteful and not appreciate it. But certainly this would have Jesus say, “Do not judge. Judge.” And maybe that is fine, since the statement Jesus makes is actually, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Judging might be fine in that context, as long as you are prepared to face that same judgment. And certainly, Jesus is not saying that we are not to be wise about people and worldly affairs.

Merely, we ought be accurate in our assessment of ourselves and avoid putting our judgment forward without carefully considering what it would mean for us if fired right back. It is this idea that we can judge without really recognizing our own problem that Jesus wants to address. And that we would have the gall to try to illuminate and even fix another’s problem while being blind to our own. Right judgment was never an issue.

Before I soften Jesus, let me say that it sounds to me like he would prefer us not to judge at all, but rather focus on the kingdom. For even correct criticism is often received as unjust accusation. And even brothers may be separated by a word that though fair and well-meant was received with anger and a lack of trust.


About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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