He Who Has Ears

But Hypocrites?

~ Jesus busted out the label ‘hypocrite’ in chapter 6. People who turned pious acts of devotion into a means to be recognized and applauded by their fellow man were nothing more than actors playing a religious role. Hypocrisy can come in another form, too—judging others in their shortcomings while neglecting to confess your own. Many people apply a horizontal measurement to their condition: ‘I’m not as bad as Charles Manson—or even Marilyn Manson—so I must be good.’ Jesus directs his audience: worry about the plank in your own eye before you concern yourself with the speck of sawdust in someone else’s. It’s not about comparing ourselves to others—“Wow, dude! That’s quite a stick in your eye!” It’s about the heart. This segment of teaching comes with its own warning—the standard for measurement that you apply to others will be applied to you.

While Jesus condemns judging others in the manner of looking down your nose at others, he affirms that discernment, where character is concerned is important. He concluded: Do not give dogs what is sacred and do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. Were it to play out rightly, a man would not judge his brother in hypocrisy, but would rather humbly approach in vulnerability—admitting his own struggle and imperfection. Fully aware of the plank in his own eye, he could lovingly share the journey with his brother in a way that is mutually beneficial and encouraging. It could mean maturing and healing for both of them. But there is a danger in this kind of vulnerability. If you share personally with a gossip or give sound counsel to a fool it’s likely to come back to haunt you. The book of Proverbs is full of warnings of this very sort.

There is One, however, to whom you can bring that vulnerability. Genuinely asking and seeking of the Lord will never be turned away. Jesus paints a very loving picture of God as a Father who desires to give good gifts to His children and to bless them.

This lesson on judging others is brought to a close with the Golden Rule: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Many ancient teachers spoke the Golden Rule negatively—more ‘what goes around comes around,’ so don’t do things to others for fear they might come back on you. By stating things in the positive, Jesus connects a right relationship with God to right relationships with our fellow man.