The most quoted and misquoted verse in the Bible was spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The seven words that form the subject of this essay are often used as a defense when our hands are caught in the ‘cookie jar’. Read the post text of Matthew 7:1 and you’ll understand immediately that Jesus is speaking about hypocrisy. It is ludicrous to think that a man with a large beam of wood protruding out of his eye, would offer to remove a speck out of the eye of a brother.
His conclusion is simple. “Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then you shall see clearly to cast the mote (speck) out of your brother’s eye”(Matthew 7:5). In verse 20, Jesus declares “Wherefore by their fruits you will know them.” One old black preacher declared, “I ain’t a judge, I’is just a fruit examiner”.
In John 7:24, Jesus declares, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” In superior court, one juror approached the judge and declared, “Judge, I can’t serve on this jury, one look at that fellow and anyone would know he’s as guilty as sin.” The judge cupped his hand and whispered back, “that’s not the defendant, that’s the district attorney!” Righteous judgment is not easily scored.
The young preacher was walking the back country, going to the little church deep in the woods. He was raised in the area and remembered there was a sweet stream of water over to the right. As he kneeled to drink he noticed two women washing clothes in the stream below. One rushed up to him offering a long stemmed gourd to drink from. Her mouth was running over with snuff, and the young preacher thought, “If I don’t accept her generosity, she will be offended and not come to my service and die and go to hell because of it.” He held his stomach and as he filled the gourd with water, the thought came to him and he turned up the gourd and drank from the stem. As he drank, her eyes got bigger and bigger, and when he finished, she exclaimed, “Glory be, you the first one I ever did see that drank out of the gourd just like me.”
I’ve always said there are good sins and bad sins. The good sin is one that is accidental and unintended. If you stepped on ones toe in a crowded elevator, what would be your immediate reaction? “Pardon me,” “Excuse me”, “forgive me”, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it”. The bad sin is the kind you design, and structure and plan, and at the opportune time, executes it. This is the kind of sin committed by the hypocrite. The apostle Paul wrote, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, said the Lord” (Romans 13:19).
American history would have been greatly changed if on that one occasion, Mrs. Paul Revere had said, “I don’t care who’s coming tonight, it’s my turn to use the horse.” One man said to his wife, “When my time comes, don’t put me on a machine, just pull the plug.” So she got up and pulled the plug on the TV. True judgment is hard to come by.
It’s all in the way you see life. One man coming home late and had too much of “John Barley Corn”, the wife met him at the door and sternly said, “And what does the clock say?” He gave her a sweet smile and said, “Tick Tock, Tick Tock!” When the porcupine backed into the cactus, he said, “Is that you, Mama?”
It was in Circleville, Ohio, on a clear September evening (1979). The service had been completed. As the full house began to empty and handshakes were moving in all directions, I greeted a middle aged woman with a very special face. She looked faintly familiar.
I took her by both hands and said, “You are blessed indeed, for you have a life-giving face.” She grabbed me around my neck and whispered in my ear, “You told me the same thing when you were here seven years ago, and it kept me going ever since.”
Sincere compliments are words of encouragement. They tell us that others care and have been helped by meeting and knowing us. They lift the cares from the shoulders of others and help us stand taller. They improve our performance without increasing our talents.
Sincere compliments are free as birds that sing and flowers that bloom. They share their songs and fragrance with everyone. They motivate us to greater heights and cause us to see the good in others. They give life to our face and reflect a brightness in our eyes that resemble stars in the midnight sky.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the most beautiful of us all?
Hypocrite, don’t you see, you’re the last one that beauty sees.”
Judgment within itself is always wrong. Sweet judgment that lifts others, teaches and encourages, and fills others with the desire to do better is always good.
Now you can better understand the words of Jesus, “Judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgment.”