Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, NKJV).
A few verses later Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14, CSB). Which is the narrow way? Which is the wide way that leads to destruction? Obviously, one must judge!
Again, Jesus said, “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves” (Matthew 7:15, CSB). Which is the real sheep, and which is the wolf wearing a wool suit? Judge for yourself!
And Jesus clearly taught His disciples to be fruit inspectors (Matthew 7:15-20). Which is good and which is bad? “You’ll recognize them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:20, CSB).
Obviously, Jesus wants us to be discerning. He taught us to make wise decisions, to assess, to evaluate, to judge. So what did He mean? “Judge not!”
To help His audience understand, Jesus used a parable. “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a beam of wood in your own eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1–5, CSB).
Picture it. A fella is standing there with a magnifying glass trying to find the tiny splinter in his friend’s eye. But look at him. He’s got a two-by-twelve jabbed into his eye! Ridiculous, right? It’s hyperbole. It’s a parable.
Parables were Jesus’ preferred method of teaching a touchy subject. He often used this literary tool to make His hearers think twice about His meaning and purpose. Some of His parables were stories and others were short one-liners. Either way, Jesus’ parables make us think!
Okay. I’ll admit it. I’m guilty! Sitting in my lazy-boy, eating another heaping bowl of chunky-monkey, watching the second game of a double-header, I think about the guy in the commercial, “he’s fat and lazy.” (Is that a parable? I’ll never tell.)
“Do not judge... Do not condemn!” (Luke 6:37–42, CSB). Don’t be critical, condemning, focused on the faults of others, but be humble, empathetic, compassionate.
We’ve all got problems. We all struggle with sin. We all need someone to tell us the truth and hold us accountable. We need someone to help us get the log out. When that’s done, we’ll be better equipped to help our brother with his splinter.