Chapter 7:1-6 (ESV) - “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 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? 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.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Question to consider: What does Jesus mean by the measure you use will be measured to you?
Up until this point, Jesus had been talking about the heart motives of people, and He demonstrated how even those the people deemed most holy in their society fell short of the Law and were unworthy of the kingdom of heaven. Fortunately, Jesus pronounced blessing on those who realized their spiritual plight because He would fulfill the entirety of the Law and grant citizenship as a gift of mercy.
The first verse in today’s passage is one of the most quoted in our society. We even use a modified King James version of it to make it sound more authoritative. We would like the first verse to exist on its own so that we can be accepting of any lifestyle or teaching. However, nobody ever seems to quote the verses that follow. The first verse was Jesus’ transition from the internal to the external. Most of this sermon was asking the crowds to judge the motives behind their own actions. Here Jesus asked them to be careful in how they judged the actions of others.
It was commonly understood that God used two measures in administering His Law: a measure for justice and a measure for mercy. Because we are corrupted by sin, we seek a measure of justice for those who wrong us but desire a measure of mercy when we wrong others. Jesus said to be careful in how they judged others, for the same measure that they used for others would be used against them.
Jesus then used hyperbole to humorously illustrate the point where someone was trying to tend to the speck of sawdust in their brother’s eye while a two by four plank was lodged in their own. Using the word “hypocrite” here hints that Jesus was talking about the religious leaders who looked for ways to put people out of the synagogue while performing their own righteous works to be seen by men. By the time Jesus got to Jerusalem three years later, He would be much more direct and shout, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24)
The point was that these religious leaders should lead with mercy and judge rightly. His statement about giving to dogs what is holy and pearls before swine seems rather cryptic like Jesus may have been using a common proverb, but I think He was referring to the holy and pearls as their Jewish brethren whom they cast out of the synagogue to the Gentiles through their unrighteous judgments. An example of one who was trampled and turned and attacked them could be Matthew who became a tax collector who may have made sure they paid every penny they owed and then some.
Dear heavenly father, we ask that You soften our hearts to Your word so that we may confess our own sin. When we are faced with addressing the sin of others, let us not do it to tear people down but to gently restore them in their faith. Amen.