Matthew 7:1 says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It has become one of the most misused passages in my lifetime. How many times have you been involved in a religious discussion, read a passage, and then applied it, and the person on the receiving end states “that is your interpretation?” It is a most discouraging response, and usually ends any kind of dialogue.
Jesus encountered these situations throughout his ministry and should we not also expect to have to deal with the same objections. I’ll admit that sometimes we hold people to standards we cannot even maintain ourselves, and the hypocrisy is obvious to everyone but ourselves. It’s one thing to judge someone’s intent, as Jesus stated in the first part of Matthew 7, but Jesus also says in the same chapter, “thus you will know them by their fruits” (v. 20), referring to false teachers.
We should not be fearful or angry when answering objections to the truth. However, in patience and love, we can allow the Bible to answer their questions. The reason many preachers and Christians aren’t convincing people about salvation is not because of the lack of knowledge, but how we go about teaching people. If we speak down to people or come across arrogantly with our knowledge we’ll lose any hope in the conversion process.
In Matthew 23:23-24, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees saying, “Woe to you, scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” We’re wasting our time in teaching if our reputation is one of arrogance, lack of forgiveness, and impatience. Jesus followed this by his condemnation of people who outwardly appear righteous, but inwardly are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
In verse 25, he mentioned persons “full of extortion.” It is pathetic that some in the church have a business reputation of dishonesty and greed, yet parade around quoting verses, attending every service at church, nitpicking other Christians, becoming the worst examples, discouraging other faithful pilgrims, and having no influence in the world. We need to be firm in our convictions (2 Thess. 2:15), having great faith by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This includes: the giving of our means on the first day of the week and not leftovers (I Cor. 16:1-2), encouraging those around us, showing proper respect for every person we contact, helping those in need, and “not be weary in well doing” (2 Thess. 2:13).
Let’s consider our faith, outward conduct, and attitude toward God and our fellow man, before we go about trying to teach others.