In Matthew 7, Jesus begins by telling us (his disciples) not to judge others; it is the introduction and topic of the entire chapter. When he uses the metaphor of the log and the splinter, he is not saying get rid of the log so that we can judge the speck. If we think that, we miss the point.
He tells us two things, if we choose to hear them. First, the comparison between the log and splinter is crucial. He lays the log inside our eyes, not our neighbor’s eye. He tells us our own sin is exponentially greater than the sin of our neighbor, and there must lie our focus.
Second, He tells us until we are clear of all sin, we have no right to judge the sins of another. The apostle Paul backs that up when he tells us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“In judging we act as though we are the other person’s master and thus as though he or she has to answer to us. We are attempting to stand in the place of God.” Gregory Boyd, Repenting of Religion
When we judge, we do so from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Jesus told us if we want to follow Him we must consume everything about Him. “After hearing these teachings, many of His disciples walked away and no longer followed Jesus.” They didn’t understand or like what Jesus said, so they chose to turn and walk away. Though at that moment, Jesus spoke of the communion elements, He began by saying, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again; whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” (6:35, 61-66) the same thing He told the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:4-14)
If we call ourselves Christians, we cannot pick and choose which of His commands to follow. If we intend to follow Jesus, we must swallow Him whole. It means we do not judge. It means we love our (Samaritan, Muslim, gay, immigrant) neighbors. It means we love our enemies. And some still take offense to this.
But Christ lets us know, rather than take offense or judge, we are to take wisdom about what He has just said by asking for it, and asking continually. (7:7-8) When we abide in Him, we can savor His great wisdom and lean on His understanding rather than our own.
Jesus speaks of our treatment others, which we have labeled the “Golden Rule,” as the essence of our character, our behavior and our judgment. (7:12) In truth, the only reason we need to judge anyone is to determine their needs and spiritual condition that we might meet them where they are in order to establish a relationship with them and compassionately minister to them. This is what Jesus did with Matthew, with the Samaritan woman at the well and with Nicodemus.
Our Father’s love is relational and unconditional. He passed that love along to Jesus who passes it along to us. And through the Spirit, we are to pass it along to everyone else God created and leave the judgment to our Creator.
We come together from different directions while walking this path. It is as though Jesus is the conductor of a worldwide orchestra, each of us playing different instruments in His symphony, all to the relational tune of His love and grace.
Our job is to keep our own instrument tuned and play our very best. The only One whose job it is to judge and correct when an instrument is out of tune is the Master Conductor, and that is what makes His symphony so harmonious.
©2004, Gregory A. Boyd, Repenting of Religion p. 118, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI