by Mike Ratliff
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 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. (Matthew 7:1-5)
Have you ever observed bullies? You know, those people who seem to go out of there way to belittle everyone around them both physically and verbally. Why do they do it? The heart of Man is deceitful and depraved. In the following passage, God explains to His people His method of judgment. He also explains that Man, left to self, is “desperately sick and deceitful.” However, there is no excuse. God still searches our hearts in order to proclaim justice.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
The bully is one who is in the grips of deceit and the gall of bitterness. He or she has no fulfillment in any part of their existence so, in an attempt to get some sense of glory in their lives, they try to downgrade others to elevate themselves over them. They hurt others because this gives them the illusion they are bigger or better than those they afflict. What they are doing is judging. They are saying, “I am actually better than you and I’m going to prove it by taking you down.” However, the realities of their lives never give them the fulfillment they believe they deserve so they continue to try to force their will over everyone they can. Some bullies are more violent than others are. Some are actually very pleasant and nice people until they get behind the wheel of a car. Watch people parking at the mall during Christmas shopping season or while they drive during rush hour traffic if you don’t believe me. People imposing their will over others, no matter the situation, is an act of judgment that their victims are not as worthy as they are.
Pride is the culprit behind a deceitful heart. Pride comes packaged in our hearts from the moment we are conceived in our mother’s wombs. It looks out for number one. Its methods are varied and deceitful. Pride is the motivational force behind our heart’s attempts to gain fulfillment or glory from every conceivable avenue. What is the number one avenue pride seeks to manipulate in order to produce fulfillment? It is our flesh. Our flesh is our old sin nature. Our “OLD MAN” sin nature is not redeemed when we are saved. It has not been done away with. It is still in place. Its sole function is to attempt to find fulfillment from fleshly pursuits. Of course, all of those pursuits are sinful. The believer who does not understand this will be clueless why they continue to sin even though they are now in Christ. Why can’t they get the victory of some sins? Why do they continue to fall into the same sins repeatedly? The problem is their “OLD MAN” sin nature, sin itself, reigns in them. Victory comes to those who learn how to mortify or kill it. (Romans 7) However, we are discussing the source of judging others. Pride is the culprit. Its main tool is our “OLD MAN” sin nature. Pride seeks to elevate self at the expense of everyone else. The only way it can accomplish this is to judge others in an attempt to elevate self over them.
The Christian is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) That means God has regenerated the believer. His or her Spirit, once dead, is now alive. However, as we saw earlier, sin is still present in the Soul. Pride is still in place. Salvation does not automatically kill it. However, Christlikeness requires the replacement of pride with humility. Pride is self-focused and judges others. Humility is outwardly focused and never judges others.
How can we know if we are prideful or humble? The number one indication of pride or humility working unhindered is the focus of our hearts. If pride is in control, the focus of our hearts will be on self-fulfillment, self-promotion, self-defense, and self-pity. I’m sure we could list many more. Pride focuses the heart inwardly. When circumstances are not fulfilling then it directs the heart towards entertainment, daydreaming, fantasies, et cetera. Why? This is a desperate attempt to find glory or fulfillment. The prideful believer’s hope is on everything except God. Our hearts are deceitful and wicked because this is what they are constantly doing unless we learn to control them. Judging others is a large part of this sinful activity. On the other hand, if humility is in control, the focus of our hearts will be outward not inward. It will not be on what we can get, but what we can give. The motivation behind the giving has no strings attached. Pride can appear as humility by giving, but its motivation is to get something out of it such as recognition. Humility does not do that. It focuses the heart on loving others instead of judging them. The humble believer’s heart is focused on God for fulfillment. The humble believer’s hope is on God instead of temporal things. Therefore, the joy of the Lord is his or her strength. It understands the only fulfillment that lasts comes from delighting in the Lord.
The source of judging others incorrectly is pride. The humble righteous believer still has to judge, but it will always be in light of God’s values and will be His judgments. A good example is found in Joshua 7 when Achan sinned and caused the Israelites to lose a battle. Joshua proclaimed judgment upon him and his family, but it was God’s judgment being carried out. When pride judges it is always based on its own values, which it cherishes. The act of judging others is hypocritical.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12)
Hypocrisy has its root in pride. After all, the whole structure of rules and values it uses to judge is nothing more than a deceitful house of cards. Hypocrisy is the result of one living a lie. It is a statement that one is of such and such a character when the opposite is true. Belittling others is hypocritical every time. There are no exceptions. Pride produces hypocrisy, which boasts and belittles. However, in the Kingdom of God, we have no grounds from which to boast. We have no good thing in us that would allow us to elevate ourselves over others. We have already looked at these passages, but let’s do so again.
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”, “There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:10-18)
This passage tells us that no one is worthy of salvation. God did not choose anyone for salvation because of his or her merit.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
We have already looked at God’s good work of taking us who are completely unworthy and undeserving of grace and regenerating us into His children. We have nothing about which we can boast. We did not choose God, He chose us. Therefore, believers must examine their hearts to see whether pride or humility reigns there. If pride is in control, we will be in a constant state of judging others. If humility is in control, we will be seeking God’s glory in everything we do and think. The humble heart judges self in order to line itself up with God’s will, but never others. If a believer gossips, then he or she is judging. What is the root of this type of judging? Pride and hypocrisy are ruling and reigning in their hearts. They are speaking evil of others and are thereby proving they are not humble. Unless they repent, God will judge them. However, if they will judge themselves by repenting, God will grant them the ability to grow in grace and humility. Pride masquerades as humility so it is easy to become confused about which is actually dominating one’s heart. If a person is timid then we think he or she is humble, however, this is pride in negative action. Timidity is not humility. It is pride in self-protection mode. It refuses to take risks it perceives as possibly being costly. On the other hand, the humble believer will be bold. I did not say brash or obnoxious. I said, bold. Boldness is a Christlike attribute. Pride attempts to appear humble by doing good works. However, there is an ulterior motive. It craves recognition and praise for doing the good works. Humility does good works, but seeks for God to be glorified in them. These are just a few examples.
Pride must be rooted out. How do we do it? Pride thrives in the rocky, sour soil of the hard heart. The hard heart is full of unbelief so it does not trust God. Humility thrives in the soft, fertile soil of the tender heart. Its focus is on God and seeks only His glory. The tender heart’s soil is poison to pride. Pride cannot thrive there. So, how do we become tenderhearted? In the last chapter, we discussed sanctification. God tenderizes our hearts through this process. The fact that you are reading this book is an indication God is drawing you into getting serious about this process. The way we “cooperate” in our sanctification is to draw near to God as He draws near to us. (James 4:8) What this does is humble us before Him. Drawing near to God not only puts us into the process it is also how we maintain it. We must learn to direct our hearts away from the flesh for fulfillment thereby denying pride. Instead, we direct our hearts to God for fulfillment. This heart redirect has a name, Repentance with Joy. Think about it. Turning our hearts away from fleshly pursuits by turning to God is act of repentance. This turning produces joy in our hearts. The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) What that means is when our hearts are full of the joy of the Lord we are not self-focused. Instead, we worship and bless Him. We must learn to walk through each day by delighting in and worshipping Him. This tenderizes our hearts and uproots pride. Christlikeness grows in us as God uses our closeness and submission to Him to restructure our hearts. He circumcises our Hearts thereby making His values apparent to our Souls via the conscience. Before we know it, our conscience is so tender towards God that we would not dare deviate from His standards. This is the essence of how the tender heart operates. This heart does not judge. It is humble. It slips every now and then, but with a tender heart, the conscience will condemn the act, which leads the believer to repent.
Just as the source of “judging” is pride, the source of “judging not” is humility. Jesus Christ told us directly to “judge not.” He knows the root of judging others is pride. He hates it. Why? Pride is an affront to God because it is a statement that Man is a god and will have things his own way. Genuine humility is rare and that is a shame. Let’s go to our Lord in brokenness and humility for healing of this dreadful heart condition. Let’s ask God to replace our pride with humility as He tenderizes our hearts. If we don’t do this then pride will continue to rule and reign in our hearts. That means we refuse to repent and grow in Christ. There are consequences we must face if that is our choice. We will look at them in the next chapter.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.