Our default mode is dis-integration. We go through life seeing everything as separate rather than connected or integrated. In the modern western world, this means most of us operate from our intellectual center, we’re mostly “head” people. Our minds chop everything up into small bits that we can control and when we do this our ego is fed and satisfied.
Making discerning observations in the world is a necessary and valuable part of life. Our judgement helps us discern good from better, and better from best. Comparing, labeling, contrasting, counting, categorizing and analyzing is how we pick teams, make decisions and navigate our world. However, this good thing, turns rotten once we see everything and everybody as distinct from ourself.
It was the same way with the audience listening to the Sermon on the Mount. This is why Jesus counsels his audience with a very vivid analogy which seems simple and obvious, but when we try to correct ourselves, we immediately begin to see just how big the problem really is.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 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? 4 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? 5 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. 6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:1-6)
The Greek word krino (judge) has multiple meanings. It’s really important to note this because it is through all the variants that the bigger message emerges. Krino means to decide, prefer, evaluate, hold a view, make a legal decision, condemn, rule, or judge. Therefore, Jesus admonition to “not Judge” means to withhold any conclusions or determinations we might make about others, at least at first. Based on (V. 6) this really connotes the wisdom of not “pre-judging” people. Once their true colors are known, there is an alternative plan for that.
The larger teaching emerges through the analogy of performing ophthalmological surgery on someone while having a fence post in our own eye. That thing we criticize in another is really a small thing in the grand scale of life, but it is a huge problem within us, yet it’s too close for us to see. We focus on our differences and miss sharing in our similarities. We divide ourselves over stupid things when in actuality we are all inter-connected. Jesus shows us our shared connection by pointing out that “with the measure you use it will be measured to you..” What we do to others, we do to ourself. It’s not a separate “pay back”, it is the same motion of hypocritical judgement.
The irony is that none of us want to see ourselves as hypocrites. Yet we daily prove ourselves to be hypocritical in the countless ways that our self-centered behavior emerges. Jesus points out that the kríma (verdict, condemnation, judgement, decision) we use on others, we will be kríno (evaluated, condemned, ruled, held a view, decided). Again, what we send out is one and the same as what we give. Condemning another is to condemn ourself. It’s not God condemning us, it’s us. The way out is just as easy. Withhold judgement, and it is withheld on us.
By first attending to our own hypocritical judgement (the log in our own eye) we incrementally gain the power to lay it down and see others as ourself (which is the golden rule). While we are not others, we are also not other than others either. Only the mature who do soul work can live from this place. Removing our log is not easy but once we know the painful path, we gain tremendous understanding for the transformation process in others. This is how we “see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Patient, judgement withholding people, get along really well. Non-judgement creates an environment where all people at all ages and stages can grow and gain understanding at their own pace and learn from each other without being torn apart and devoured. But let’s face it, not everyone has an evolved or elevated consciousness. In fact, the majority of our world lives under the anesthesia of very low conscious awareness. Such people care very little for their soul because they are out of touch with it and like a toddler, are distracted with the world. Such people will not withhold judgement on you. This is why Jesus offers the last part of the passage.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Dogs have no respect for the sacred work you have done to withhold judgement on them. Pigs place no value on such pearls. While God sees each of us and values us (as seen in last weeks post-“Are you not more valuable than these?“), some people will have no regard for God, goodness, other people, or this cosmos. Jesus calls such self-centered people dogs or pigs. While he teaches us to withhold judgment at first, he clearly recognizes that some people will reveal themselves to be unworthy of the grace and patience we have afforded them.
The solution offered is not retaliation. He already went over that in a previous section. The solution is simply to “not give the holy or not throw the pearls”. This means only to withdraw or to let it go. Do not engage with a person selfishly behaving as a dog or pig. Don’t give them “you.” Don’t give them access to “your life.” This includes family members. Be friendly, remain patient, remain respectful, but offer nothing of value and offer nothing of yourself. If you do, they will attack and devour you (V.6).
Proverbs 9:7 says: “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.”
By acting in this way, we create healthy space between those who are not self-aware and those who are. Those most trapped in their pain, suffering or confusion are most likely to hurt others because they are the most dis-integrated. Like an injured animal caught in the fence. Those who possess the most self-awareness (who have taken the log out of their eye) understand that they are not unlike those trapped in their pain and confusion, for they too remember vividly being trapped as well. We should create only enough space to avoid being attacked, but we hold the pearls in plain sight (live in faith and righteousness) in hopes of inspiring change.
The judging mind is a wonderful aspect of an integrated and aware soul. It is the repository of data that empowers us to live peacefully and successfully in the world. However, if our judging mind dominates our life, if it displaces our heart or body centers, we will never see others as ourself and we too will live dis-integrated lives. This is to live ùpo (under) krita (mask), to live a false self, or hypocrite. The hypercritical judging self is the false self. This is why it is so hard to make lasting change.
The corrective to proud, judgmental living is to be meek. Today’s passage is text the chiasm which explains the third beatitude “Blessed are the meek.” The result of apprehending and applying this teaching is that we shall inherit the earth. This means Jesus is offering us a strategy to navigate the world in such a way that we can live, grow and serve the world without being harmed by the egos and power plays that effect the weaker soul.
Withholding judgement is a genuine path to personal freedom, peace and integration. The question is whether we can see beyond the log in our eye.