Do not pass judgement so that God may not pass judgement upon you; for you will be judged by the standard you use for judgement; and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the plank in your own? How can you say to,your brother, “Allow me to expel the speck from your eye,” when, see this! there is a plank in your own? Play-actor! First expel the plank from your eye, then you will see straight to expel the speck from your brother’s eye.

(On the other hand) Do not give a holy thing to dogs nor throw your pearls to pigs, in case they trample them under their feet, turn around and tear you to bits.

There is a problem about the relationship of the final paragraph to the rest. It is not recorded by any other gospel writer, so must come from tradition only available to Matthew. He may just have been looking for a place (any place) to put it; or he may have seen it as qualifying the the command not to judge. I will write more on this below.

I have chosen to translate “pass judgement” rather than simply “judge” as I think that is Matthew’s meaning. We may use our experience to judge a situation or person, but we must not pass judgement. I have also chosen to unpack Matthew’s pious passive “ will not be judged” to reveal who is going to deliver a judgement, namely God. Jesus seems to say clearly that God will use our criteria of judgement on others to judge us. If true this is an appalling thought. The sharp and sometimes condemnatory judgements I pass on others, surely God won’t use them on me! I mean, God is supposed to forgive, that’s his business, isn’t it? Jesus certainly means that every time we stand in judgement on someone, we are thereby asking God to stand in judgement on us. Will God do so? Jesus says he will, although I detect a savage humour in this teaching, so there may be some wriggle room.

This blog is out of order because a bit of it disappeared from the time of composition. I cannot find it, and have returned to re-write it.

The words about pearls and swine were precious to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed by the Nazis. He wrote of the secret discipline at the heart of true faith. The spiritual intimacy of the believer’s relationship with God is no more to be publicly displayed than the intimacy of lovers. Speech can only distort it, and diminish its power. But through the secret discipline of prayer and meditation, it maintains the mutual love which energises the believer’s actions. When during an air-raid Bonhoeffer’s jailor panicked and beat him, Bonhoeffer immediately gave him a dressing down for loss of control as an officer. He did not tell him about Jesus.

One comment

  1. I like the way you connect the final paragraph to what precedes.

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