On Giving Advice & Judging Others

Why would someone accept marital advice from a person who’s gone through four divorces and whose fifth marriage is sinking faster than the Titanic?

And why would the person in that failing fifth marriage even feel qualified to give marital advice to someone else?

Trial and error? The process of elimination? Do they think if they’ve missed it five times in a row they’ll surely get it right on the sixth try?

Matthew 7:1-6 is a passage of Scripture that is often pointed to right before someone says, “The Bible says not to judge!”

But does it really?

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Matthew 7:1-6

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Most read the first three words in this verse, stop, and completely miss the point of this entire section of Scripture.

How many times have I heard someone shout, “The Bible says ‘don’t judge!'”

Thinking about that conjures up a picture in my mind of a girl in her twenties, designer nails covering fingertips clutching the latest issue of Cosmo, doing something or believing something very unwise (i.e. stoopid). After someone points out the stupidity of whatever it was to her, she snaps her fingers in a circle and yells, “Don’t juuuudge me! The Bible says not to juuuudge me!”

Matthew 7:1 is her go-to verse, but the problem is this passage doesn’t say not to judge – you can’t stop three words in and get the truth Jesus is sharing here.

It says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

In other words, “don’t criticize and correct unless you’re willing to be criticized and corrected too.”

That’s a far cry from “do not judge at all.”

But wait, there’s more:

2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“If you criticize and correct others, expect the same sort of criticism and correction yourself. You have no business judging others by a standard if you haven’t applied that same standard to your own life, because guess what – they will!”

3 “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?

“Why would you give advice to a friend about their sin or problem if your unresolved sin or unresolved problem is greater than theirs?”

4 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?

“IF there is a plank in your eye – IF your unresolved sin is greater than theirs, don’t you understand that you’re blind to a real solution?”

Why would you offer to write a “How to” guide for someone else’s life if your own is in shambles? You’re unqualified to do so unless you become qualified, and that’s what Jesus wants you to do. That’s why he says in verse 5:

5 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.

“Don’t you think it would be a good idea to prove you have the wisdom to handle your own junk before you attempt to help someone else handle theirs?”

6 “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.

“And when you do get to the point where you can help other people by giving them advice and correction (this is where Jesus wants you to be), only work with those that are open. If someone isn’t going to listen to your advice or if they aren’t humble enough to accept correction, then don’t waste your time on them. Don’t throw your pearls of wisdom to pigs who aren’t going to listen or pay attention.”

—-

This passage of Scripture is primarily about developing the ability to give wise advice. It is not about our cultural view of judgmentalism (that is largely without biblical basis) as so many mistakingly believe.

Jesus never says, “Don’t you dare tell anyone what they’re doing or how they’re living is unwise” – in fact, just the opposite.

His point is this: “First, examine yourself and make the changes you need to make so that you can develop the ability to give good advice and correct others. Take care of your own junk first, then help others take care of theirs.”

That being said, we’re not loving others if we refuse do a thorough self-examination in order to fix our own sin and problems, and we’re certainly not loving others if, once our own junk is fixed, we stand by and watch others kill themselves in the name of “not being judgmental” (ironically this is often done in the name of “love”).

You can only lead someone else as far as you’ve gone yourself, and Jesus would have you lead others to Him.

Don’t let yourself get in the way.

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9 thoughts on “On Giving Advice & Judging Others

  1. Jen says:

    Very well said, Wes!

    PS that depiction of the young cosmo reader with her perfectly manicured nails, snapping them in a circle…. Highly judgemental 😉 lol

  2. WesWoodell says:

    You bet it is, but I threw my issue of Cosmo away before I said anything.

  3. Jim Woodell says:

    Boy, now I’ve got to get on with judging, even though it puts me in a “pickle.”

  4. Alan Newberry says:

    Fantastic arcticle Wes, good insight, I think you’ve hit on a very important lesson from that passage that most of our generation fail to realize. P.S. I am going to give feedback from my last comment, just been busy and hadn’t checked back to see that you asked.

  5. WesWoodell says:

    Puts me in a pickle too sometimes 🙂

    And thanks, Alan. I’ll look for it.

  6. Hazel Moon says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts. Liked the cartoon too!
    A Joyful Sound

  7. Gelia says:

    Thanks a bunch! I was looking for something to help me talk with the youth group at church tonight about getting and giving advice and this was really insightful 🙂

  8. Janet Austin says:

    Excellent! Absolutely excellent!

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