In the Fulness of Time/Part 33

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007
Matthew 7 contains several commands concerning criticism. Dr. Figart suggests that Christ is telling his disciples not to act toward one another like the Pharisees. Why not? What does a harsh or hypocritical attitude reveal about you? What are the consequences?

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Three Commands Concerning Criticism Matthew 7:1-6

Harsh Criticism. 7:1-2

7:1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye measure, it shall be measured unto you again.”

It is obvious from the context as well as from other Scriptures that true disciples are to exercise honest judgment. In verses 5-6 this will be mentioned; in John 7:24 Christ said, “Judge righteous judgment” and in I Corinthians 5:3, Paul rebuked the Corinthian Church because they had not judged and excommunicated the sinning brother: “For I verily, as absent in body but present in spirit, have judged already as though I were present.” But the judging here in Matthew 7:1-2 which should not be practiced must refer to harsh, self-righteous criticism practiced by the Pharisees which was denounced by Christ in Luke 18:9: “And he spoke this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.”

It might seem that Christ is speaking about a future, final judgment, since He is present­ing Himself as the Messiah expecting to rule over a future earthly Kingdom. However, this could not refer to true disciples since their sins are all forgiven according to Colossians 2:13, before they die, unless Christ’s sacrifice is not considered sufficient! The only future judgment for the believer is at the bema seat (not krima seat) of Christ, where the purpose will be to judge the believer’s works; it is not for measuring out punishment, but to deter­mine rewards. As a matter of record, in Paul’s teaching concerning the works of the be­liever in I Corinthians 3-4 he comes to this conclusion: “Wherefore stop exercising censori­ous judgment with reference to anything before the epochal, strategic season, until that time whenever the Lord may come, who will both turn the light on the hidden things of the darkness and bring out into the open the counsels of the hearts, and then to each one there shall come his praise from the Lord.” (I Corinthians 4:5 in Kenneth Wuest’s transla­tion, p. 389).

It would seem more likely then, that Christ is telling His true disciples not to act toward one another (or toward unbelievers as well, for that matter) like the Pharisees, or it may just backfire on you! You may have to take the same harsh, censorious judgment as you are dishing out, and it just may come back to you measure for measure! No true disciple of the Messiah/King should act in such a way!

Hypocritical Criticism. 7:3-5

Blindness in overlooking our own greater faults. 7:3

7:3 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

The mote () has been identified variously as a splinter, a piece of straw, a karphos speck of dust, a twig, or even chaff, always something small or insignificant, while beam (dokos) is a large log or plank of wood used in undergirding a floor or a roof. These two figures illustrate extremes in faults. Jesus recognized that all men have faults, some greater, some lesser, but that neither should be overlooked. The tendency is that we over­look our own faults when we see something wrong in another, even if it is relatively lesser than our own shortcoming or sin. In Romans 3:23 Paul reminds us that all have sinned and are continually coming short of the glory of God. This is not to say that sinful men cannot reprove sinful men! From the beginning there have been men like the proud Cain whose brother Abel had the more excellent sacrifice, or men of wickedness like those in Sodom as opposed to the righteous Lot, or those who are profane, like Esau as contrasted with Jacob who became Israel, a prince with God. But who would say that Abel had no sin, or that Lot had no faults, or that Jacob was always what he should have been? Yet, they stood for righteousness! If God had waited for men without motes to judge His ancient people Israel, there would have been no judges nor prophets.

But this is not the problem here in Matthew 7:3; it is the true disciple who has low­ered himself to the level of the proud Pharisee so that he does not consider the beam in his own eye! The Greek word katano-eo translated “considereth” means “to per­ceive, to understand.” It is used in Luke 20:23 to show how Christ “perceived” the craftiness of the Pharisees and Herodians, and this took intelligent thought. It is used in James 1:23-24 of a man who is a hearer of the Word but not a doer. He is like a man beholding (katano-eo) his dirty (?) face in a mirror, but goes away and immediately forgets what was wrong with himself. To consider and then forget immediately shows a lack of real conviction that his face was dirty.

Eagerness in judging the lesser faults of others. 7:4

7:4 “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”

This is the other side of the coin; not only does the brother with the beam neglect to consider it, but he wants to pull the mote out of his brother’s eye. There is no denying that the mote is there; but he is too eager to pull it out because he has no way of ascertaining how it should be done! A proud, self-righteous brother is no help to another as long as the beam blocks his own vision!

Effectiveness of a clear eye in judging others. 7:5

7:5 “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Self-righteousness of whatever sort causes ineffectual spiritual sight. Take the case of the prodigal son’s older brother as an example. He could never understand the forgiveness and love of his father toward his younger brother. The parable closes with his anger unre­solved; that angry attitude was a beam far larger and more stubbornly immovable than the mote of profligacy and sin which the prodigal had already removed from his life. It was the older brother who was the hypocrite.

With the next verse comes the discussion of honest criticism against the unbeliever, which is not only allowable but essential, if we are to distinguish right from wrong. I know a few Christian friends who insist on using Christ’s words of “turning the other cheek” in an attempt to excuse themselves from criticizing the terrorists who destroyed lives and prop­erty at the World Trade Centers. We will show that Christ definitely distinguishes and con­demns such actions, and predicts their final judgment “ in the fulness of time.”

Read Part 34

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