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Hanging on to discernment


Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

I find it interesting that many people who do not know much about the Bible or care about what it says love to quote today’s verse. When taken out of context the admonition to judge not becomes convenient for those who want to support ungodly actions without any backlash from others. But while this statement is very true in certain situations, it is not a blanket statement teaching us to throw out discernment. Instead it is a call to squelch unwarranted criticism given to boost our own pride. Jesus tells us not to be critical, but make sure to hang on to discernment.

I am sure that all of us have been in circumstances where we felt judged or criticized for no real reason. It is not a good feeling! Sometimes it comes from people who are jealous and other times from people who aren’t comfortable in their own skin. Somehow they think that by putting another person down it will raise their status in the eyes of others. But fault finding never accomplishes anything helpful for the giver or the receiver.

Jesus warns that those who have a critical spirit will be judged in the same way they judge others. Instead of finding fault with the speck of dust in another person’s eye, Jesus prescribes that we should take the large timber out of our own eye first. Recognizing and repenting of our own sins ensures the humility needed to help a brother or sister who is truly struggling.

People who like to use today’s verse to substantiate their ungodly actions without any accountability fail to read Jesus’s next statement. He says, “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 turn and tear you to pieces.”

Calling someone a dog or a pig seems like a hypercritical statement, but Jesus’ point is that there is a definite place for discernment. Discernment is necessary in all affairs of life, including our assessment of the people around us.

When my children were young I needed to make judgment calls about who I was going to let babysit them. As they got older I observed and determined who they should or should not hang out with. I would never allow someone I didn’t trust to have full access to my kids.

Likewise, I also need to make decisions about my own acquaintances and decide whom I can trust with sensitive matters of my heart. I need to limit my time with people who will tear me down and choose wisely with whom I will open up about personal and private matters. I would be foolish to share sensitive “pearls” with “pigs” who will trample all over my beliefs and tear me to pieces. All of these decisions are crucial and we must make them every day. They come from discernment.

Always remember that a hypercritical spirit stemming from pride never pleases God! Those who harbor this type of negative attitude towards others will find themselves suffering the same kind

of judgment they mete out. But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Don’t be unnecessarily critical of those around you; make sure to hang onto discernment!



Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at www.VersesFromMama.com.