Matthew 7:1-6 – Why the Confusion About Judging?
by Dr. Mike Spaulding
The following story appeared in a recent edition of Leadership Journal.
“A traveler, between flights at an airport, went to a lounge and bought a small package of cookies and a newspaper. The woman found an empty seat in the gate area and sat down next to a man reading a magazine. After a couple of minutes she became aware of a rustling noise. From behind her paper she peeked to see the man sitting next to her helping himself to her cookies. After the initial shock she decided not to make a scene so she reached over and took a cookie for herself.
A minute or two passed and then came more rustling. The woman peeked from behind her paper and sure enough, the man was helping himself to another cookie. Again the woman decided not to make a scene and instead reached over and took two cookies for herself. This same process occurred several more times until there was one cookie left. The man broke the cookie in two pieces, ate half, and slid half over to the woman, got up and left.
The woman couldn’t believe the audacity of the man and was still fuming over the whole affair when she boarded her flight. After takeoff the woman needed something in her purse and when she opened it up the first thing she saw was her package of unopened cookies.”
Our assumptions can be misleading more often than we want to admit!
Our passage of Scripture under consideration today – 7:1-6 – lends itself very well to this illustration. When I was younger the most often quoted passage of Scripture both inside and outside the church was John 3:16.
Today the most often quoted passage of Scripture both inside and outside the church may very well be Matthew 7:1. There is one change however. The passage is thrown out as a defense in the form of a question. “Who are you to judge?” or “Who are you to say this is wrong?”
I would love it if just one time I could witness someone answer this “who are you to say” question with this question –“who are you to say who are you?”
You see folks when someone says “who are you to say” they are either intentionally dodging or missing the issue at hand out of ignorance. “Who are you to say/judge” is really aimed at a person not an issue. It is what is referred to in logic as an ad hominem (a type of informal fallacy).
And this question is completely irrelevant because it misses the point entirely. Here’s why. When I offer a point of view, the strength of my position is not based on who I am, as if I were speaking by my own authority, but on the content of and the basis for my position.
Here’s what it would look like in real life. Say I’m on the streets of downtown Lima and I happen upon a few people that are having an open-air debate on the subject of homosexuality. There are some arguing for it and some arguing against it.
After a few minutes I interject that homosexuality is sinful according to the Bible. Everyone stops and looks at me and then one person who has been advocating for homosexuality says “who are you to say that?” or “Oh, you’re one of those right-wing homophobes.”
The challenge “Who are you to say?” misses the point, because I’m not offering a judgment based on my own authority. My position is not based on my own personal convictions but on what the Bible has to say and therefore the question doesn’t apply because I’m not saying anything based on my own authority. I’m not saying, “Listen to me.” I’m saying, “Listen to my argument. Consider my evidence. Search the Scriptures.”
Now, I say all of that to introduce Jesus’ teaching here in 7:1 because so many folks have accepted the false teaching that Christians are not to judge. Is that what this verse teaches?…
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