During a postgame interview with Erin Andrews last night, Richard Sherman made some obnoxious comments ridiculing receiver Michael Crabtree and claiming to be the best corner in the game of football. Almost instantly Sherman began receiving negative backlash via social media for his distasteful comments.
Today, many are still appalled by Sherman’s conduct, while others are running to his defense. Those in Sherman’s camp of supporters are arguing, “Judge not that you be not judged!” – Matthew 7:1. Along with this, his supporters are also attempting to remind “haters” that Sherman has had better moments where he has done good deeds that went unnoticed.
The exciting banter Sherman has sparked is nothing new; it’s the same old argument for the millionth time regarding whether or not it is wrong to judge someone’s actions. So, I would like to take this moment, while the topic is fresh on everyone’s mind, and discuss the topic of judging and what the Bible is teaching in Matthew 7:1.
So, what type of judging is Matthew 7:1 discussing? Many claim that the type of judgment being condemned in Matthew 7:1 is negative judgment. However, if negative judgment is what is under consideration, the Lord immediately contradicts himself by commanding his disciples to pass negative judgment in Matthew 7:6 when he tells them not to cast their pears before swine. How could his disciples determine who the swine were of whom Jesus spoke without passing judgment – and negative judgment at that? Obviously, Jesus was neither condemning all kinds of judgment, nor was he condemning negative judgment.
Matthew 7:1 is a condemnation of hypocritical judgment. It is wrong to pass judgment on someone for doing the same thing that you yourself are guilty of. Matthew 7:2 teaches that we will be judged by the same standard with which we judge others. The point is this: be careful when you pass judgment that in so doing you do not condemn yourself. Think about how Jesus’ point regarding hypocritical judgment applies to how people generally argue from Matthew 7:1: Is judging others for judging not rather hypocritical?
Jesus goes on to teach in Matthew 7:3-5 that we should remove the plank from our own eye so that we can help our brother with the speck in his eye. Question: How are we to recognize our brother has a speck in his eye without passing some sort of judgment? The point is not that we should never pass judgment, but that we should first judge ourselves, clean up our own lives, and then help others clean up theirs.
When the topic of judging comes up again, remember to keep Matthew 7:1 in the context in which it was given. Also, remember these words of Christ:
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45
We will be judge according to our works and our words for they communicate to people who we really are.
Young people need to learn three lessons from Mr. Sherman’s bad example:
1- There are consequences to the bad decisions we make.
2- It takes far more effort to overcome a stupid mistake than it does to avoid making that mistake.
3- You cannot take back words spoken rashly or in anger; you can be forgiven, but people won’t forget.
In closing, in light of the criticism Mr. Sherman has received, may we all give heed to the following words of Scripture:
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” – James 3:5
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” – Proverbs 13:3
“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” – Proverbs 29:20
“By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.” – Proverbs 14:3