2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Okay, so I've been pondering (meditating on . . . whatever you want to call it) these verses today, and I guess I'm kind of questioning the standard explanation I was given growing up. The explanation given when I was growing up was that these verses are about not "judging" someone's salvation. However, while the rest of the passage does go on to talk about knowing believers by their fruit . . . that's not what these verses say.
There are no "specks" of salvation, let alone "logs" which would in some way imply that someone was more saved than someone else. This is most definitely talking about the HOW of accountability. I am a firm believer in accountability. If you talk to those closest to me you will hear that I might be slightly fanatical about accountability. If you have an issue with me, I want you to tell me. If I am concerned about something you are doing and we have the appropriate relationship, I am going to do my best to tell you the truth in love. (Although sometimes I fail on the "love" part.)
These verses say that the way we hold others accountable is the way we will be held accountable. If, in the process of holding each other accountable, we are judgmental - harsh and critical, gossiping and hateful - that's how others are going to treat us. It's hypocritical of us to criticize someone else's sin without first opening ourselves up and evaluating where we are spiritually and what our motivation is for criticizing our brother.
Sin is sin and as Christians we are called to say just that. However, the way we do it is critical. In years past, how many times has someone passed judgment over a female wearing pants or people attending movies in a theater . . . and today we find those standards silly and unnecessary? No one would dare call them a sin. How many people have been run away from fellowship with the family of God because someone decided that violating their preferences or convictions was a sin and they needed to hold everyone accountable according to their version of Christianity?
It's a good thing I'm stubborn or I would have walked away from church a long time ago. My skirts were never long enough. My music (and my voice) was always a bit too loud. My actions were too bold . . . and my friends weren't "spiritual" enough. REALLY????? Did anyone ever ask about my heart? Did anyone ever care that God loved me just the way I was? That He was working on me to change what needed to be changed from the inside out and not the other way around?
I'm so glad my parents taught me the truth from the time I was little. The actions of others have made me doubt. They've hurt me and probably even left scars, but I've never given up. I've never walked away and thrown my hands in the air because I couldn't please people. And God has never given up on me. My outside is still a work in progress. My heart is in His hands. I choose to surround myself with people who love me and accept me - and who are bold enough to keep me accountable. To tell me the things I don't want to hear. To confront me when they're afraid of my reaction. To get in my face when that's what it takes.
That's where verse six comes in . . . "Do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." That's what it's like when people with their own motivations, their own selfish desires and their self-righteous attitudes try to keep someone accountable. They trample on the good intentions and the earnest desire of the person seeking God, and then through their gossip and their harsh words, they turn on them and tear them to pieces.
"Judge, lest not ye be judged" is definitely one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible, but not in the way I grew up thinking. It's not about judging someone's salvation. It's about condemning instead of telling the truth in love.