Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Judging the Dog Show

To judge or not to judge that is the judgment we each must make.

Perhaps one of the most often quoted Scriptures in all the Bible is used by very different contingencies in order to “prove” totally opposite points. It is used (or should I say abused) by those seeking to justify a totally tolerant position, and at the same time equally abused by the legalists seeking to make Christianity about rules and regulations, and thus pharisaical. Of course the Scripture I am speaking of is from Matthew 7 and part of the greatest sermon ever preached known as the Sermon on the Mount.

“Judge not that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge you will be judged…. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:1 – 6).

Without a doubt the key to bringing correct interpretation to this passage of Jesus message is the word “judge” itself. The problem that we have in this country in understanding this passage is that we only have one meaning in mind when we read the word. In the Greek language in which it was originally written however there were at least a dozen different shades of meaning to the word that depended completely on the context of the message.

In the first part of this message Jesus is speaking of using human standards and preferences to bring judgment on others. The obvious result of this too often used tactic on the part of humanity is that we tear down others in the futile effort to lift ourselves and we do it at the expense of judging other people’s motives. The less understood result of that act is blasphemy! Blasphemy takes place in a number of ways. In this case it happens when men, usurping the authority of God, judge (what only God can and has the authority to judge), the “heart and motives” of a man. In essence when we do this we are playing God and assuming His exclusive right and place.

The next section Jesus charges hypocrisy and asks, “…why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye”? The word “look” here literally means to inspect and point out and bring to other’s attention with magnification. Note that this is NEVER the responsibility of any Christian (except with regard to heresy). But the continuation of Jesus question is what genuinely brings perspective to the issue. “… but (you) do not consider the plank in your own eye”? The Greek word “consider” is a word for self examination that must by definition be both intense and continual AND is required in order to even see properly the speck in the brother’s eye. Interestingly though, simply bringing attention to the speck is NOT the proper duty of any Christian toward any brother! Rather the Scripture says that the purpose is to help “remove” the speck. Here again a proper understanding of the language is critical. To “remove” in this case is the picture of one person cooperating with another and allowing that person to pour water in the eye, washing out any impurities that were causing irritation and impairment. This is NEVER the forceful act of one person over another but rather the result of the power of the Holy Spirit over each together.

Lastly the Scripture says, “do not give what is holy to dogs…”. Suddenly the scripture seems to require that you and I make judgments of who are “dogs” and “swine,” two of the most reviled animals to Jewish thought at the time! But here the standard is not the self righteousness of man, but rather the standard of God via His Word. In other words it is God’s righteousness and His standard that brings to bare, NOT our judgment on others, but rather simply whether we “receive” into our lives and “give” of our lives to a particular cause or person. The purpose is NEVER destruction (by human effort) and condemnation (by human standards) but rather whether we allow ourselves to be a part of something else. Unfortunately, in today’s society Christians seem to prefer the former to the later in spite of the command of Jesus’ message here to the contrary.

Lastly, it is interesting to me how often Christians seem to want to justify these humanly destructive actions by quoting Scripture ripped out of its context and contorted to a reversal of meaning. Again allow me to remind us all that this is blasphemy of the worst kind. It is only He that is holy and to abuse His Word for any reason is heinous. Note too what immediately follows in verse 12 is the golden rule with absolutely no attempt to hide its context!