Matthew 7:1-6 How to avoid being a Judgmental Hypocrite

A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, 23 Oct. 2011


7:1 Stop judging

            in order that you might not be judged.

                        7:2 For by that standard of judgment you are judging with,

                                    you will be judged,

                        and by that standard of measurement you are measuring with,

                                    it will be measured in regard to you.


7:3 Now, why are you seeing the splinter which is in the eye of your brother,

            yet you are not taking cognizance of the timber-beam in your eye!

7:4 Or how will you say to your brother, “Let me throw away the splinter from your eye,”

            and look, the timber-beam is in your eye!

7:5 Hypocrite! First throw away the timber-beam from your eye,

            and then you will see clearly to throw away the splinter from the eye of your brother.


7:6 Don’t give the holy stuff to the dogs,

and don’t throw your pearls in front of the pigs,

            otherwise they may trample them down with their feet

            and once they’ve turned around they may rip you open.


During last year’s faith family, and freedom rally, I remember seeing some sexual revolutionaries protesting our rally with a sign which read, “Judge Not.”

Here we were saying that they were committing sin, and there they were reminding us of a command that Jesus Himself gave not to judge them.

Who was right? Who was being hypocritical?

o       In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has just been telling us not to be anxious about food & clothing.

o       Now He addresses another source of anxiety, and that is the way sin creates interpersonal conflict.

o       I want to highlight three principles of dealing with interpersonal conflict by exercising good judgment and avoiding hypocrisy.

1. Avoiding hypocrisy in judgment; recognize that God will judge you in the way you judge others.

Mat 7:1  Μὴ κρίνετε, ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε·ἐν ᾧ γὰρ κρίματι κρίνετε κριθήσεσθε...

7:1 Stop judging in order that you might not be judged. 2 For by that standard of judgment you are judging with, you will be judged...


The Greek word for “judge/judgement” krinw/krisis (from which we get our word “criticism”) shows up 5 times in these first two verses. This is obviously the key word here.

Word study (using NASB quotes):

o       It was used two chapters previous to refer to taking someone to court (Matthew 5:40  "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.) Likewise, it was used to speak of the legal process in Jesus’ trial by Pilate and the Jews and of Paul’s trial by the Jewish and Roman courts (John 18:31 So Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law." The Jews said to him, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death…" Acts 3:13  "…Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.” Acts 23:3  Then Paul said to him, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck? … 6  But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, "Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!" Acts 25:9  But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me on these charges?" 10  But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know.) Paul also uses the word in reference to the folks in the church in Corinth who were suing each other in court rather than making peace among themselves (1 Corinthians 6:1-6  …but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?)

o       It is also used of distinctions we make in our minds, as to whether something is true or false, right or wrong (Acts 26:8 “Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?” 1 Corinthians 10:15 “I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.” 2 Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died”

o       It is even used of everyday sorts of decisions like scheduling events on the calendar (Acts 20:16  For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. Titus 3:12  When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.)

o       In John 3:17, it is used in the sense of condemning someone to hell so that they are not saved. (John 3:17  "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. cf. 12:47) This kind of judging is something only Jesus can do (John 5:22  "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son. John 12:48  "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” Acts 17:31  because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Romans 2:12  For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law… 16  on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”) This final judgment is pictured in the book of Revelation: (Rev. 19:11  And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in right­eousness He judges and wages war…  20:12-13  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, accord­ing to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.)

o       And yet, Jesus commands His disciples to judge. (John 7:24  "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.") Jesus commends His disciples good judgment when they judge a matter the right way (Luke 7:43  Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly.") and Jesus scolds them for failing to make good judgments in other matters (Luke 12:57  "And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?)

o       Jesus even promised that His followers can be judges when they get to heaven (Matthew 19:28  And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 1 Corinthians 6:2-3  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?)

o       It is used of the decision of the church council in Jerusalem regarding how Jewish Christians should treat Gentile Christians (Acts 15:19  "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles” Acts 16:4  Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.” cf. Acts 21:25) Later on, Paul uses this word regarding his judgment in a matter of church discipline where He tells the Corinthians church to expel an unrepentant and flagrantly-immoral man out of the membership of the church (1 Corinthians 5:3  For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present… 12  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13  But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.)

o       The word is also used to speak of evaluating whether or not someone is a believer and thus whether or not you should have fellowship with them. (Acts 16:15  And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us. cf 13:46, Rom 3:7)


Obviously there are situations where it is proper and even commanded by God that we make judg­ments, but there are other situations where it is forbidden and not proper, and this issue is covered not only here in the sermon on the mount, but also in the letters of the Apostle Paul and James:

o       The parallel passage in Luke 6:37 seems to equate the kind of judging which Jesus is prohibiting with condemning people and not forgiving them ("Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.”)

o       Romans 2:1 makes it clear that hypocrisy will be punished by God  Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things… 3  But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

o       Judgment in an area where you have no jurisdiction – particularly if it is done with a proud, hateful attitude – is condemned in Romans 14:3-22  The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind… 10  But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God… Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way… 22  The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

o       There are some things that only Jesus can judge, especially when it comes to discerning people’s motives – you may think you understand why your sister did something, but you’d best hold your judgement 1 Corinthians 4:5  Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.

o       1 Corinthians 10:29 …why is my freedom judged by another's conscience?

o       There are some areas where God has given His people the freedom to express their faith in a variety of ways, and it is wrong to create rules that are stricter than God’s rules and impose them on everybody: Colossians 2:16  Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--

o       James 2:12  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty, for judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment… 4:11  Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? 5:9  Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.


 “It is not only permitted to us to condemn all sin, it is an obligation – unless we wish to contradict God Himself, abrogate His laws, rescind His judgments, and upset His tribunal… These words of Christ are not to be taken exactly in the sense of condemning the function of judgment, but to cure a disease which nearly all grow up with… seeing who can be the sharpest critic in the company… an eagernesss… to inquire into  other people’s misdeeds… the damnable desire to bite and tear and criticize…” ~John Calvin


Jesus gives us the reason not to be this way:

ἐν ᾧ γὰρ κρίματι κρίνετε κριθήσεσθε, καὶ ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε ἀντιμετρηθήσεται ὑμῖν.

7:2 For by that standard of judgment you are judging with, you will be judged, and by that standard of measurement you are meas­uring with, it will be measured in regard to you.


o       Anybody remember the story of Adonai-bezek? Judges 1 mentions the name of this Canaanite king who would cut off the thumbs and big toes of his captives. When the army of Judah conquered the army of the town of Bezek, they captured King Adonaibezek, and you know what they did to him? They cut off his thumbs and his big toes. Judges 1:7 NASB  Adoni-bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to gather up scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me."

o       If we are harsh and judgmental in the way we treat other people, people will be harsh and judgmental in the way they treat us. If we are generous in giving the benefit of the doubt and charitable toward our fellow-Christian, we will usually see a generous and charitable spirit shown to us. That’s just a fact of life. Ron Hamilton called it “The law of the boomerang” – you get back whatever you dish out. Jesus gives this as a reason to be careful about how critical we are of other people.

o       This positive aspect In the parallel passage in Luke 6:38  "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

o       The next time your wife or brother or co-worker does something outrageous, would you think about how you would want them to address you next time you do something insensitive to them, and, instead of lighting into them, temper your words with grace and kindness, and give them the benefit of the doubt. The response may amaze you.

o       Remember what Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer? If you will not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

2. Avoiding hypocrisy in confronting other people’s sin: Deal with your own sin first.

Mat 7:3  τί δὲ βλέπεις τὸ κάρφος τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου, τὴν δὲ ἐν τῷ σῷ ὀφθαλμῷ δοκὸν οὐ κατανοεῖς;ἢ πῶς ἐρεῖς τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου, ἄφες ἐκβάλω τὸ κάρφος ἀπόMaj/ἐκCrit τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου, καὶ ἰδού ἡ δοκὸς ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ σοῦ;

7:3 Now, why are you seeing the splinter/speck which is in the eye of your brother, yet you are not taking cognizance of/consideringKJV/noticingNAS/attendingNIV the logNAS/ plankNIV,NKJ/ timber-beam in your eye! 4 Or how will you say to your brother, “Let me removeNKJ/ take outNAS,NIV/ throw away the splinter from your eye,” and look, the timber-beam is in your eye!


·         Some Christians are zealous to point out sin in other people – I’m sure that without trying very hard, you can think of somebody who is like that. Many times, however, those people have glaring sins that they don’t even recognize. They think they are doing God a favor by fighting sin, but, as Matthew Henry put it, “he is no enemy to sin. If he were, he would be an enemy to his own sin. And therefore he is not worthy of praise; nay, it appears that [what he really is] is an enemy to his brother.”

·         And yet, “in the hearts of all, including even Christ’s followers, to the extent in which grace has not yet fully transformed them, there houses a Pharisee” ~William Hendricksen (The enemy is us!)

·         The only other reference in the Bible to this karphos word (translated mote/speck/splinter) is in Genesis 8:11 to describe the twig from an olive tree that Noah’s dove carried back in its mouth.

·         On the other hand, the dokon timbers are found in several places in the O.T. (Brenton quoted below), generally referring to the thick timbers used to span the length of a house and hold up the roof. (See picture from our garage – the ceiling joists were 2x8’s – thicker than anything in the 2x4 walls!)

o       Genesis 19:8 … do no injury to these men… they came under the shelter of my roof.

o       1 Kings 6:15-16  And he framed the walls of the house within with cedar boards, from the floor of the house and on to the inner walls and to the beams: he lined the parts enclosed with boards within, and compassed the inward parts of the house with planks of fir. And he built the twenty cubits from the top of the wall, one side from the floor to the beams, and he made it from the oracle to the most holy place.

o       2 Kings 6:2-5  Let us go, we pray thee, unto [the forest near] Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and make for ourselves a habitation there… And behold, one was cutting down a beam, and the axe head fell into the water: and he cried out, Alas! master: and it was hidden.

o       2 Chronicles 34:11  They gave it also to the carpenters and builders, to buy squared stones, and timber for beams to cover the houses which the kings of Juda had destroyed.

o       Song of Solomon 1:17  The beams of our house are cedars, our ceilings are of cypress.


·         Notice that both the splinter and the beam are made of the same thing – wood, indicating that the kind of issues you are observing in other people are probably also issues in your life.

·         So you’ve both got sin, but you don’t considerKJV/ noticeNAS/ attend toNIV the fact that you’ve got a huge load of this same sin in your life. This Greek word is a compound of the word for “mind” plus the word for “down.” It is used to denote the act of observation, such as when Eve “scoped out” the forbidden fruit and found it pleasing to the eye; it is used of recognizance where the 12 men “spied” out the land of Canaan. It combines the concept of careful looking at something with getting it down in your mind so that you understand it well. This person Jesus is talking about isn’t being very careful about watching out for sin in his life.

o       In fact, I have observed that people tend to be more critical of other people in the very area where they have that same problem:

§         I have seen liars get angry at other people for telling a lie,

§         bullies get bent out of shape when someone uses force against them,

§         and arrogant, opinionated people criticise other people for being intolerant

§         When you see something that really bothers you, stop and ask yourself if that problem is in yourself too.

o       Of course, the problem is kinda funny the way Jesus put it: here somebody with a huge piece of wood in his eye is concerned about a little splinter in somebody else’s eye and is offering to take it out, not realizing that he is the one with the worse problem in much greater need of eye surgery!

o       The problem is our failure to be observant enough to recognize that the sin which we see in others is a problem within us as well. We need to examine ourselves and be people who are aware of our sins and who are confessing and repenting of our sins on an ongoing basis.

o       The  Apostle Paul wrote that we should take the opportunity to examine ourselves every time we take communion: 1 Corinthians 11:31-32  But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

o       One of the best ways to become aware of our sins is to walk in fellowship with other people who love us. Other people have a tendency to bring out the worst in you, and if they love you, they will help you see it and make it easy for you to repent:

§         I used to think I was a very wise man until I got married and realized that my ideas were not always the best.

§         I used to think I was a very patient man until I had several children, now I don’t consider myself to be all that patient anymore.

§         Walking in close fellowship with other Christians serves this same purpose; it helps expose sin in us and helps us deal with it.

Mat 7:5  ὑποκριτά, ἔκβαλε πρῶτον τὴν δοκόν ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου[1], καὶ τότε διαβλέψεις ἐκβαλεῖν τὸ κάρφος ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.

7:5 Hypocrite! First throw away the timber-beam from your eye, and then you will see clearly to throw away the splinter from the eye of your brother.

o       What is the first thing we should we do when we notice that somebody is out-of-line and needs correction? Nail them to the wall and yell at them? NO! First check yourself: “Do I do that too?”

o       God’s word warns us about our hearts being deceitful, so maybe also ask somebody who knows you well, just to make sure you’re not blind to your own problem. If you find that you have the same sin in you, then take the occasion to confess your sin before God, ask His forgiveness, and purpose to turn away from it.

o       But don’t stop there. Many people think “judge not” means that we should just feel guilty for thinking that other people have sinned, but that’s obviously not what Jesus meant, because He says that once you’ve dealt with the plank in your eye, you SHOULD remove the splinter from their eye too.

o       Once you have a clear conscience on the issue, you are in a much better position to confront your fellow brother or sister in Christ, and you should take the opportunity. Even so, it must be done gently and humbly to give them the greatest possible opportunity to respond well with repent­ance, and watching out for further temptations you might face, as Galatians 6:1 instructs us: Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”

o       That’s what it means to get rid of the log in your own eye.


The opposite of being too judgmental is being too naïve. There’s a balance that requires the wisdom of God to manage our relationships. We shouldn’t be walking around condemning everybody at the drop of a hat, but neither should we be indiscriminate about important things:

3. Avoiding conflict with other hypocrites: Exercise discernment in who you exhort.

Mat 7:6  Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσί[ν] μηδὲ βάλητε τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων, μήποτε καταπατήσωσιν[2] αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῶν καὶ στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν ὑμᾶς.

7:6 Don’t give the holy stuff to the dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of the pigs, otherwise they may trample them down with their feet and once they’ve turned around they may rip you open/rendKJV/attackESV/tear you to peicesNAS,NIV,NKJ.


Jesus is still using figures of speech:

o       Sure, the Old Testament priests would be mishandling things if they took the special sacrificial animals to be offered to God and instead threw them on the ground for wild dogs to eat. (Dogs in those days were not pets; they were not cute and loveable, they were wild scavenger animals like coyotes.)

o       And sure, it would be ridiculous to take expensive pearls, imported from the Persian Gulf or from the Indian Ocean[3] and just throw them on the ground in a pigpen and let them get buried in the mud and lost. That would be just as senseless as standing in front of a wild boar when it could turn on you and slash you with its tusks. I’ve heard stories about how those wild boars can use their tusks to really rip you up.

o        But the context tells us that Jesus isn’t ultimately talking about dogs and hogs, what he’s talking about is relationships with other people.

o       So, who did Jesus mean were the dogs? The Apostle Paul calls certain people “dogs” in Philippians 3 – there he was referring to Jews who refused to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and who insisted instead upon trying to get God to accept them based upon their observance of all the Jewish ceremonies. Those kind of people should not be recipients of what is holy.

o       What is the “holy thing” and the “pearls” that Jesus is talking about?

§         He just said at the end of the last chapter that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God,” and later on, He compares the kingdom of God to a “pearl of great price.”

§         About the only thing called “holy” in the New Testament that one person could give to another person would be God’s word:

·         Luke 1:70  As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old--

·         Luke 1:72  To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant,

·         Acts 3:21  …God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

·         Romans 1:2  which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,

·         Romans 7:12  So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

·         2 Peter 2:21  For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.

·         2 Peter 3:2  that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

§         I think this especially referring to telling people about how they have broken God’s laws and are headed for hell, and giving them the good news of the Kingdom that Jesus is God’s way of salvation through His atoning death on the cross to pay for sin.

§         Matthew Henry adds that “good counsel and reproof” are precious ordinances of God, compared with “gold” in Prov 25:12 and with “excellent oil” in Psalm 141:5.

§         It’s also possible that this could be applied to what we call the “sacraments” of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are special things and should not be indiscriminately done to everybody, only to those who are part of the body of Christ.

o       Jesus modeled discernment with people: “Jesus was very patient with Thomas’ unbelief (John 20:24ff) and with Peter (John 21:15ff), but for Herod Antipas, who often had been warned (Mark 6:20) but had disregarded all of these admonitions, Jesus had not a single word (Luke 23:9). He pronounced a curse upon Capernaum, which had failed to take His messages to heart… (Mat. 11:23) He instructed His disciples not to remain too long in those places that would reject their preaching (Mat. 10:14ff).” ~Wm. Hendricksen

o       While we cannot use this as an excuse not to tell people about Jesus or an excuse not to call people to repentance for sin, there are some people for whom this is not appropriate.

o       These would be people who have heard the Gospel and scoffed at it, who have heard you call them to repentance, and instead of humbly acknowledging their sin, they flew off the handle in rage at you. At some point, it’s appropriate to back off and be less accessible to them.

o       Maybe someday God will bring them around, like He got ahold of the Apostle Paul who, before he was an apostle was killing people for becoming Christians. Ananias of Antioch was rightly hesitant to walk right up to this notorious persecutor of Christians and offer to baptize him. Ananias first had to be notified by God that Paul had had a change of heart. And we can pray for God to change hearts while we keep some distance from them.


“It is the violation of the law of love involved in the exercise of a censorious disposition which alone is here condemned… that your own character and actions be not pronounced upon with the like severity at the Great Day…. He only is fit to be a reprover of others who jealously and severely judges himself. Such persons will not only be slow to undertake the office of censor on their neighbors, but when constrained in faithfulness to deal with them, will make it evident that they do it with reluctance and not satisfaction, with moderation and not exaggeration, with love, and not harshness.” ~Jameison, Fausset, and Brown



[1] Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts have τὴν δοκόν here instead of earlier in the sentence.

[2] This is the Majority reading also supported by f1  and Sinaiticus. Future indicative in Critical text.

[3] Hendricksen, p.359