Sermon on the Mount, Eleventh

Our investigation into the sermon on the mount brings us to the discussion of judging others. Here is the next section as broken out by the New Internation Version:

“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.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“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 7:1-6. This passage is yet another portion of the Sermon that is frequently mentioned, particularly by liberal Christians and non-Christians. This weekend we watched the movie Jesus Camp, a movie that explores the world of very judmental Christians, and the methods they employ to, depending on your prespective, teach/indoctrinate/train/brainwash their children.

So, it seems that teaching your children that other churches are dead, and that God only likes churches like yours, and proposing that anyone who disagrees with you about theology or politics is evil, runs afoul of Jesus’ commandment here. But, what about more subtle judgments? Are we really not allowed to even consider whether the behavior of others is good or bad?

What about the last bit? It seems pretty, well, judgmental.

6 replies on “Sermon on the Mount, Eleventh”

The questions to ask are, “Who is the swine, and what is the pearl here?”

Are the swine the goyim? Is the pearl Jesus’ wisdom? I think taken in context this is a totally reasonable interpretation. Which would lead us to conclude that the author is imploring us not to save certain undersirables.

Certainly a reasonable interpretation. Another would be that the swine were the Jews that rejected Jesus’ teaching. Of course, that would make it much less likely a statement that Jesus himself said, and more likely something added by the author.

I notice that the second, or center, teaching is basically “take care of yourself.” You could read the first as third commands as positive and negative formulations of “live and let live.” Both suggest not worrying about others, but the first implies that you should not worry about others because you don’t know that you’re right. The second says you know you’re right, but they don’t deserve the effort.

This all has a lot to do with how someone like me and someone trained at a Jesus Camp should relate to each other. In my post I forgot to make explicit that not only are the Jesus Camp folks judgmental, but obviously, they are the people against which I pass my harshest judgments.


I think judgment definitely means other than punishment. Distinquishing between sin and sinner may play a role. Maybe the admonition is to not see yourself a better than the sinner. Without meaning that you will not judge conduct, which it seems you would have to do.

Maybe the admonition is to not see yourself a better than the sinner. Without meaning that you will not judge conduct, which it seems you would have to do

That’s where I was trying to with it. For me, that’s got to be part of it, for it to be something I can use.

This is an interesting discussion. I agree that we have to judge the sin, not the sinner. We need to recognize sin, but with the goal of restoring our brother or sister in a spirit of meekness, like the Apostle Paul says in the book of Galatians, not with an eye toward judging people. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. The goal is not to judge one another, but help bear each others’ infirmities.

Jennifer LeClaire
Author, The Heart of the Prophetic

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