“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you…Do not give dogs what is sacred; 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.“ (Matthew 7:1-2, 6, NIV)
These verses come from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and are quite confusing because of their seeming contradiction. On the one hand Jesus says don’t judge – get the plank out of your eye before dealing with the speck in your friend’s. Then he turns around and tells us to judge…there are dogs and pigs out there. Is anyone else confused? Is judgment forbidden or enjoined?
First, we have to realize that we’re talking about when we talk about judgment. We’re talking about making decisions about someone’s inner motives. This is forbidden for us because we don’t know these. Only God knows the heart of a person (Paul says there is only one Judge). We can only know outward acts…what is visible. Jesus says: “By their fruit you will recognize them (grapes, figs, thorn bushes, thistles, etc., Matt. 7:16).”
But there are times and places when it is not worthwhile to say a word…when it’s a waste of time preaching because no one will listen. If you give a dog something sacred, he neither understands nor cares. If you give pearls to a pig, he neither understands nor cares. It is the same with the gospel message sometimes – the dogs chew it up and the pigs trample it.
Some of us find ourselves here as we think: “This time I will win the Facebook debate!” And we preach biblical morality amid yapping, barking, and snorting! It is very often a fruitless endeavor.
As we rub shoulders with an increasingly hostile and dark world, we’re called NOT to judge the motives of others, but TO judge their openness to the Kingdom of God. But how do we do it properly? The answer is in the next two verses: Prayer. ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)
Discernment. Ask for it. Open opportunities and hearts. Ask for them. God will be faithful to answer our prayers (see Matt. 7:9-11).