We have completed the study of the main record of the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in the gospel according to Matthew chapters 5 to 7. Recently we have been looking at the equivalent section of the gospel according to Luke. This is a much shorter account, some sections missing and some new verses included. It is these additional verses that are the source for these additional studies.
We return again to the section of these verses about not judging others, Luke 6:37-42
‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’
He also told them this parable: ‘Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You Hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’
We have seen that verses 38-40 do not appear in the account as recorded in the gospel according to Matthew, and that is the reason for the study here. Yesterday I wrote about verse 38, and showed how it clearly fits in with the context of judging.
Today we look at the short parable about the blind leading the blind. This is often interpreted face value and out of the context of the passage. Personally, I have no problem with such an interpretation and there are certainly lessons to be learned from that. But I again, as yesterday, point to the fact that we are in a passage of scripture that is clearly about judging, and in particular about the human weakness of judging others.
One person said in humour that, if you have never known judging or if you have never been tempted to judge, then you have never been married. But of course we all know that the human experience about this is much wider than the context of marriage. It seems to be very much a part of human nature to make judgements about other people. Some point this to being the result of the evolutionary process, because to make judgements about people and equipment and situations can be a matter of life or death. If the person you are with does not act properly, they could attract a predator or ruin the hunt for the food that will feed your people. If they are not willing to learn, then they will not know about the poisonous creatures or plants, and can bring problems to themselves and the people with them.
Whether or not you accept evolution is not the point here, but for whatever reason it seems that there is an instinct to make judgements of others. And because these judgements rarely affect the ability of a family or neighbourhood to survive, we need to ask why the judgements are made in the first place.
I don’t really have a definitive answer to this, so please do not quote me as if I do. But I certainly think that one possible answer is pride. We like to show ourselves to be better than others, and this does not only affect Christians. It affects all people in all walks of life. Some even make sure to judge in the work environment in order to make themselves appear better or cleverer than another and so maybe have a better chance for promotion.
In the Kingdom there are no promotions, and so why judge? Honestly, I would place this alongside hypocrisy and for a very clear and obvious reason: because it is to look good to other men and women. Or at least to appear better than the person you are making judgement about.
The blind leading the blind links directly with the verses that we see both here and in Matthew – those of dealing with the plank in your own eye before dealing with the speck in your brother’s eye. I think a plank in your eye would be pretty much a form of blindness!
But when you are judging someone, very much you are saying that they should not be doing whatever it is that they are doing, but should rather be doing something else – just like you are. But then, when you do this, then you are making a follower of yourself (that is, if they submit to your judgement as being fair. More often than not, you only create a bigger problem. I will speak of this later).
I would say that, unless you are actually Christ, you better not be making a follower or a copier of you! And that is also the point of the following verse about the teacher and the student. If you are successful in your judgement/criticism of another, then the best situation that you can hope for is that you have someone respond positively to the instruction that you give. In one sense, you have created a student of yourself. And the problem with this is that the student is not greater than the teacher, and so the student will never be better than you.
But here is the deal: would you rather be the student of another fallen human being, with respect to your Christian life and faith, or would you rather be the student of Jesus? If you really want to excel above your brothers and sisters, then you need to become a student of someone who is genuinely greater than they are. And you can’t get better than Jesus!
But as you become student of our Lord Jesus, then you also learn to take up that cross daily. So you die to yourself daily. And this means all those wants and desires of the fallen nature that exists in the body you still carry around with you, because we are not yet clothed in the resurrection body.
So that means you put to death the desire to be better than your brother and sister, and instead make yourself as less than them and serve them in love. Need help with that and to know where it comes from? Look at the passages dealing with that time when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Here is our true example. Being willing to be lower than others.
Those who judge and criticise are not those who are willing to be lower than others. Here is another example of the very radical teaching of Jesus. We had love your enemies, and give to them, and care for them, and pray for them. This is already something that is often ignored by the church today. It is so radical and so against human nature… And now we have the teaching about being lower than others and serving them. The servant is not the one to criticise those he serves!
The servant spirit that we are meant to have and put into practise in our daily walk is about serving others, not only Christ. But some use the ‘holy’ excuse, and say that it is only ‘holy’ to serve the Lord – and that part of this ‘service’ is to point out what is wrong with everyone else…
But we had the warning. The same measure that such a person measures with will be used against them, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing into their lap.
But the truth is that pride and arrogance quickly follows on the heels of the temptation to judge, should you succumb to it. And for such, there is the old saying that ‘there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.’ And to become a follower of such a blind person will certainly take you away from the glory and freedom we have in the gospel of Christ, and place chains on you – most likely once again of legalism.
When someone has something to say to me that is being judgemental about me, I first try to see myself in Christ (to remain calm!) and then I try to see the servant spirit in the other person. If I do not see that, I thank them and ignore them. I certainly do not allow myself to become a follower of them or to be led by them. Jesus is the way!