The Danger of a Judgmental Spirit

Matthew 7:1-6

I doubt there are many people who haven’t misjudged someone. Nor are there many people who haven’t been misjudged. In the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus addresses a problem most humans have – having a negative, judgmental and critical spirit toward their brothers and sisters. To continue in this attitude is to enter a dangerous territory.

A judgmental spirit is dangerous because…

We bring judgment upon ourselves (Matthew 7:1-2).  Jesus is clear that we are to avoid a critical spirit that only sees the bad in others because we are inviting the same kind of judgment upon ourselves. Other passages in the NT express this same teaching such as Romans 2:1, Romans 14:4, and James 4:11-12. William Barclay offered three reasons why we should not judge one another.

  • We never know the whole facts or the whole person
  • It is almost impossible for any man to be strictly impartial
  • No man is good enough to judge any other man

We tend to minimize our own faults (Matthew 7:3). Most of the time when we are pointing the finger at someone else, we are forgetting all of our own faults. We also tend to think our faults are not as bad as the other person’s faults. This is a dangerous perspective. 

We lose our ability to assist another with their fault (Matthew 7:4). The Pharisees in all of their haughtiness and criticism of others were not known as the people who could help one out of a spiritual fault. They were unable to help others because were so quick to cast their judgment.

We practice hypocrisy (Matthew 7:5). Not only are we in the wrong to minimize our faults and magnify the faults of others, it is a hypocritical position. It does so much damage to the Body of Christ. How many people have been driven away from Christ by someone who continuously carped and criticized everything about everyone? We can carry a number of planks in our eye while we are pretending to be righteous before God.  The planks of apathy, a cold heart, disbelief, fear, hatred …and so many others … are destructive to everything we are called to be.

We fail to give attention to the truly weighty matters (Matthew 7:6). The beautiful pearls of the kingdom are wasted on someone who only sees the faults and failures of others. The Kingdom of grace calls us to be more like God … forgiving, loving, and caring. At some point we can not longer tolerate the critical negative spirit and move on to share the pearls of the kingdom with those who are open and receptive. (See Titus 3:10-11)

Commentator R. C. H. Lenski says that Jesus is forbidding a self-righteous, hypocritical judging which is false and calls down judgment on itself.

A critical judgmental negative spirit, according to Jesus, is a dangerous attitude.

Thanks for reading,

John