Be Careful How You Speak - Matthew 7:1-6 (Sermon)


Introduction: Conflict

Think of one conflict you have had recently. What was it about? How did you handle it? Our world is full of struggle. We have marriages, friendships, co-workers, bosses, customers, classmates, and neighbors that upset us from time to time. Relationships face disagreements, disappointments, and discouragements. How do we deal with people failing to meet our expectations? How do we respond to people wronging us? What is our place when we see people go astray or make what we think are bad choices? Too often, we can be judgmental or foolish in how we talk. We are armchair quarterbacks or backseat drivers that would do better to bite our lips. God’s Word is here to help. 


I am going to have M.B. read for us this morning. If you have your Bible, you can follow along. Please stand with me now if you are able. Matthew chapter 7, verses 1 through 6. 

“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. 

“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, ESV)


Thank you. Let’s pray. Dear God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart all be pleasing to you. You are my rock and my redeemer, amen. You may be seated.


Matthew is about following the promised king into his kingdom. We are zooming in this morning to examine a few previously-explored verses. Like an old sitcom, we might say, “Previously, in the last episode, we have been listening to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.” This sermon is three chapters long: chapters 5 through 7. It is unlike any sermon you have ever heard or will hear. Jesus went up to a mountainside, sat down, and began to teach. His disciples gathered around to take notes. Crowds listened. To convey his message, Jesus used word pictures, exaggeration, and ordinary objects. He was puzzling, provoking, and pastoral. He addressed a wide array of human predicaments. Jesus began with the heart of the disciple. The goal was righteousness. This rightness was the center of Old Testament teaching on godliness, purity, and perfection. This aim was humanly impossible, moving the follower to remember the sermon’s introduction. It reminds them of the value of a heart of meekness, poverty of spirit, and a desire for God. 


Zeroing in on chapter 7, the big idea of these six verses is that, 

BIG IDEA: God cares about communication

Again, for those taking notes, God cares about communication. He wants to help us with interpersonal relationships. Following his direction avoids toxicity and embraces maturity. He wants us to be generous, loving, merciful peacemakers. We are not the thought police nor the truth patrol. Our job is not to conform people to standards they cannot keep. The correct argument or truth bomb doesn’t equate to unity, harmony, or conformity. But that can go against our desire to fix and control.


Jesus wanted his followers not to be judgmental or waste speech on hard hearts and closed minds. Nevertheless, there were, and still are, times to preach, teach, counsel, advise, exhort, rebuke, correct, encourage, comfort, and educate. So how does one know when to speak and when to be silent? Jesus offered two answers using some imagery. 


1: Logs and Specs (vv. 1–5)

2: Dogs and Pigs (v. 6) 

God cares about communication. Words matter. He wants to help us live at peace with one another. He wants his followers to recall how he treated them to create a charitable disposition toward others. Sometimes that means being quiet. 

Big Idea: God cares about communication. 

Purpose: Be careful how you speak. 



If you have your Bibles, open them with me to Matthew chapter 7, starting at verse 1. We will walk through the text. What does it say? 

“Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, ESV).  

What does that mean? What was his point? Isn’t life full of necessary judgments? For example, we decide whether to go out to eat or stay home. We choose between premium and regular gas at the pump, and at the dinner table, we choose where to sit. Such daily choices were not on Jesus’s mind when he said, Judge not. Instead, it was about judging people. 


Judge not. What did Jesus mean? Is it wrong to be suspicious of the person that texted me about a pellet stove I am selling? They wrote this a few weeks back:

“That’s good we’re just moving in we’re not available to come and pick up in person, can I send you a cashier check tomorrow morning I’ll arrange movers to come and pick up after check clears in your bank,I don’t mind adding extra $200 for keeping it and consider it’s sold to me Thanks…” 

Should I trust this? Would you? Am I judging them if I google the situation to see if it is a fraud? (It appears it was, by the way. Six different phone numbers text me a similar story over the next few days. The area codes were from California to New Jersey.) Was I being disobedient to Jesus by not responding? No. That was discernment. That was not what Jesus was saying. 


Jesus was talking about a different kind of judgment. It was much more personal and subjective. What was that? It is the kind of judgment that jumps down someone’s throat, knowing only part of the story. It is the kind of judgment that assumes when it doesn’t. It is the one that interrupts and completes other people’s sentences. It is a conceited attitude resulting in unilateral decisions, high pronouncements, and a snooty air. Name-calling and mocking flow out of this spirit of judgment. Pastor Jeff called it “judgmentalism.” 


The apostle Paul warned about despising other believers regarding secondary issues: 

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God…. 

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:3–6, 10, ESV)


There are times when we must agree to disagree. God is the ultimate judge. We need to trust him. It is okay to let some matters go. Let us not despise brothers and sisters who disagree with us. Let us not be judgmental. Let us be quiet before the Lord. We can’t convince everyone we are right. We might even be wrong. In Paul’s day and ours, people debate. 

Big Idea: God cares about communication. 

Intent: Be careful how you speak. 

What if the matter is not a matter of opinion? What if we discuss some grave moral issue or central theological tenet? Then judge what the specific problem is. Determine what is going on before you pass your judgment. When you figure that out, consider what you want to say. Then, ask yourself why? Why do you need to say that? Why now? Why you? Why?  


We should look at not only the situation but also our hearts. What is our motivation? Could we think we are right and the world needs to acknowledge that, respect us, or think of us? Is it pride? Arrogance puts oneself in place of God. John Stott wrote, 

The command to judge not is not a requirement to be blind, but rather a plea to be generous. Jesus does not tell us to cease to be men (by suspending our critical powers which help to distinguish us from animals) but to renounce the presumptuous ambition to be God (by setting ourselves up as judges). (Stott, p. 177, emphasis his)

How this spirit of judgmentalism works in real-time in the home. For example, I see my kids playing. They are having a blast, but something they are doing triggers a memory of mine that hurts. It brings up baggage, but I don’t realize it. I suspect I fear, I am angry, and I become judgmental. Words fly through my head. I take action. Instead, I should investigate. What is going on? I should seek to figure out what I want and why? Sadly, all too often, I don’t want to investigate. I act. Fear or anger can drive me to react to my past. When it touches a nerve that runs deep in the soul, I don’t wait. They may be playing fine, but I judge them and misinterpret what is happening without enough investigation because I see the world through my history. I am blind. I have a log in my eye. We are all judges. Jesus wants us to control our judgments, slow down, and look inwardly. When we calm down, we may discover that we are reacting to inward stuff rather than the present reality. 

Big Idea: God cares about communication. 

Intent: Be careful how you speak.  

God is sovereign, and he brings these scenarios up often to work on us who judge. He is trying to teach us and help us work through our past. He wants us to know ourselves and him in all of it.  


There is a risk if we do not heed Jesus’s command. Look at verse 2,  

“For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2, ESV). 

I was talking to pastor Mike. He said that the buyer would bring his measuring weights back in the day. People could cheat another person by using differing measures. No one wants to be shorted or slighted by a double standard. Jesus is warning that the measure will be used on us.  


As a kid, we used to say don’t point. When you point a finger, you have three pointing back at you. At times we may have to be pointing. But consider what it would be like if someone treated you the way you treat them. Let us be charitable to each other. Likely the specific things that bother us that we unknowingly do. If we don’t, we probably have other annoying habits. Let us be cautious and not judgmental. Be gracious and not haughty. Be careful how you speak.  


Next, Jesus asked this group of people two questions. First, he asked,  

“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?” (Matthew 7:3, ESV).

The people judging were oblivious to their issues. That being the case, a question like Jesus asked helps the person identify their problem. The log obstructs one’s perspective. It is like the log in the eye. It was like the Pharisees who made a huge issue about the sabbath but neglected matters of mercy. Judge your situation, judge your message, judge your motives. 


The second question he asked was, 

“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?” (Matthew 7:4, ESV) 

How could anyone offer helpful advice when they can’t see? They need to judge themselves. I have had people in my life give me health advice who would never make those choices themselves. Have you had that happen? What goes on inside you when you experience this type of double standard? Let’s not be that person. Be careful how you speak.


I was talking to Pastor Jeff, and he was bringing this up as a speck. Do you see this? I am not talking about the bag or the particle in it. If you had a log in your eye, you wouldn’t be doing surgery anytime soon, regardless of your credentials and experience.  


This is not a joke. So much hurt happens because we are quick to judge. Before we confront, let’s consider a few other things: what are we seeing, what do we want to say, why, and how would it feel to be on the receiving end? We don’t always have to say what we are thinking. 


What did Jesus say next? He went on to call them hypocrites. Ouch! In chapter 6, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites. Hypocrite means imposter or fake. In chapter 6, we read that they did religious things in the name of God, but for the praise of people. The hypocrite has two standards, one for those before them and one for themselves. It would be like a teacher has one grading scale for the favored child but another for everyone else. This judgmentalism is unfair. Hypocrisy is not just a religious problem. We see this all over. People give themselves a pass and others a failing grade. Look at verse 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” (Matthew 7:5, ESV). 

Surgery is good and acceptable but with a proper perspective. Try the medicine before dispensing it. 


I was born in a crazy state that elected a WWF wrestler as a governor. Seriously. Off the cuff one day, he proposed that if a president starts a war, he or she should put his or her kids on the battlefield. If you want to take some territory and risk people’s lives, ensure the one calling the shots has skin in the game. In the same way, if you want to judge another person, Jesus tells them to go ahead, but first, look yourself in the mirror. Then, be okay with God judging you like that. 


Sometimes we say at church that we all are hypocrites. That is true in a sense. We are inconsistent. We are sinful saints and saints that sin. No one is perfect. Yet, that doesn’t excuse us. Judgmentalism is never okay. Let’s not permit what Jesus prohibits. Let’s not be hypocrites intentionally. 


All that said, how do we take the speck out of our brother’s eye? Look at the second part of verse 5. Jesus said,  

“Then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5, ESV). 

It is okay and good to help another person with their stuff. I might investigate what my kids are doing in another room, giggling, and find they are not behaving. They may need my help to be safe. Jesus helped people. He wants us to help people. Paul taught God’s people to help people. He wrote,

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1, ESV).

He wrote to the Corinthians,

“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside” (1 Corinthians 5:12–13, ESV).

Judging a situation, ourselves, and others, and speaking up is okay. This is different from being judgmental. It is discernment. 

In Matthew 18, Jesus said, 

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15–17, ESV)

God is okay with us using our brains and bringing correction when and where it is needed. However, he is against an inconsistent standard that is more charitable towards self and harsh toward others. He is against hypocrisy and arrogance.


Look first inwardly before outwardly. Judge your situation, your message, your motive, and yourself. Then judge your audience. Are the people God is calling you to correct? If they are, offer loving, humble, merciful feedback. Remember, 

Big Idea: God cares about communication. 

Intent: Be careful how you speak. 


In verse 6, Jesus seems to change the subject, but it relates. Look at verse 6. We will fly through this verse.  

“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, ESV).

The dogs and pigs in Biblical times differed from those we might think. For example, take a look at this picture. 

The dogs in Jesus’s day were scavengers, wild, and dangerous. The pigs in Jesus’s day were unclean, and only the Gentiles could eat them. They are not cute puppies or Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web. I was in a Sunday school, and we wondered what this was saying. Perhaps it is like sharing the truth with the Pharisees and false teachers. Both twist the holy law and weaponize it. This could also be like trying to argue people to the faith. If people are not open to hearing the gospel, we don’t need to be bulls in China shops, ramming the truth down people’s throats. We are not God. In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus told his disciples to go out and proclaim the kingdom. Then he said,

“And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town” (Matthew 10:14, ESV).

Jesus was okay with letting people reject him and his messengers. People will do that. People will persecute those who share the truth. We can’t force people to believe, obey, or accept the fact. Only God can, and surprise, we are not him. Our job is to judge rightly. After that, we can go out and courageously share our faith. But let us not be obnoxious, baptizing argumentativeness and contention as godly. God is the one who converted our souls and will convert our neighbors. 

Big Idea: God cares about communication. 

Intent: Be careful how you speak. 


In summary, there are times when we don’t confront or speak up because it is a waste or risk attack. Sometimes, before we send out an email, text, pick up the phone, or storm into the room; we need to pause and reflect on the situation, our desires, our motives, our hearts, and the people we care about. God is on the throne. He doesn’t need us to pretend to be him. But he cares about us and our relationships and our communication. 


Here are six principles to better communication based on these verses: 

  1. Look at the situation - 

    1. Ask, “What is going on?” 

  2. Look at your message - 

    1. Ask, “What is it you want to say?” This helps clarify for yourselves and others. If you don’t know what you are saying, neither will those listening to you. 

  3. Look at your motives - 

    1. Ask, “Why do you want to say it?” It may be that your motives are not pure. 

  4. Look at yourself

    1. Ask, “Would you want to be treated the way you are treating others?” 

  5. Look at your audience - 

    1. Ask, “Who are you talking to?” Are they listeners or not? 

      1. If they are, then humbly and mercifully bring your observation after you have answered numbers 1 through 4. 

      2. If they are not, then don’t speak. 

  6. Look to the JUDGE 

    1. Ultimately, whether you speak or not, whatever your goal is, and whatever you want to say, the Holy Spirit is the one who brings conviction and change. Trust him. He will do the heavy lifting. 

Trust is where the gospel comes into play. Jesus was not telling a sermon to create the job description. Nor was he offering six steps to a better marriage. Indeed, his words are helpful in family and church. However, his subversive message points us back to the beatitudes of meekness, humility, poverty, mercy, peace-making, purity, hunger, and thirst for righteousness. God is the Father and cares for us. He wants to direct us as we follow him. So, whether we are new to the faith or not, whether we tend to be judgmental, hypocritical, or self-condemning, God invites us to follow him and seek him first. Jesus was teaching, but soon he would be dying to make way for us to be sons and daughters of the Father. With his righteousness placed on us like a robe. Don’t lose hope. Trust in him, our Judge and Father. 


Let’s pray

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