“Here Come De Judge!”


Jeremy Stopford, Semi-Retired Pastor

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

— Matthew 7:1-5

For almost 3 decades – while at the same time pastoring small town churches – I had the privilege of working for the City of Norwich Police Department, wearing multiple hats.

First of all I was their parking enforcement officer – and for many years until they were removed I was known as the city’s “meter maid”. And second (among other hats as well), I was the city’s dog control officer. That job necessitated the enforcement of both the city’s AND the state’s dog laws.

One year my wife and I took a spring vacation. When I returned to work, I learned that a friend of mine had received a “city dog ordinance violation” ticket. Why? Because her dog was barking “to the point that it disturbed someone other than the owner.”

The dog owner called me all upset. So I took her through the meaning of the law. I shared with her that, while dogs ARE allowed to bark, they are not allowed to bark so uncontrollably (the owner or someone never shuts them up) that the noise disturbs someone other than the one responsible for the dog. I told her that, yes, her name would be in our small town’s local paper police blotter (serious stuff you know, barking dogs!). AND she would have to appear in the local court – and so I shared with her what to expect there.

WHAT DID I JUST DO? The one who would be prosecuting her in court took her through all the logistics of what she could be receiving from the prosecution – much less from the judge!

When we come to Chapter 7 of the Sermon on the Mount, we find the connectedness with Chapters 5 & 6 in a continuing theme: the Christian’s relation to his fellow man based upon the ever present Christ and His fellowship.

Chapter 7 introduces the topic of what the Bible calls “judgment”, a word which primarily means “to criticize, to condemn.”

From our court room analogy above, Jesus is saying that when we judge others, we become:

* Prosecuting Attorney: the one who gives evidence

* Jury: the ones who weigh the evidence

* Judge: the one who passes sentence!

The Lord Jesus takes that human understanding of the court room and applies it to perhaps the harshest area of human relationships: our nature and desire to let others know just how we feel. As a result, what happens? We LORD it over them! Let’s look at the Savior’s response to such a judgment.


In Isaiah’s classic chapter 6, Isaiah amazingly writes, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…” [my emphasis]. Man’s throne is vacant! God is the universe’s eternal Ruler. He is “high and lifted up”, that is, He is seated in a place reserved for worship of ONLY Him! In commenting on this passage in John 12:35, the Lord Jesus said, “he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.”

Following up on this theme, Jeremiah (chapter 1) relates God’s word was his stay (verse 4); God’s knowledge was his humility (verses 5,6); and God’s holiness was his mission (verse 16).

Ezekiel has a similar outline, as in chapter 1. God’s presence was most individual and unique (verses 1-3). God’s appearance was indescribable (whole chapter). And God’s presence demands worship (verses 27-28).

One more! In Psalm 44:3-8, David mulls on God’s greatness and concludes that God’s presence demands only one thing: His worship. Verse 8 he concludes, “In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever.” And then David adds the poetic musical term, “Selah” which basically means “pause, think of that!”. When do WE “pause and think of that” when contemplating that God ALONE is worthy to be HIGH AND LIFTED UP?

In his “Love Chapter” (1 Cor. 13), Paul describes love (verses 4-7). Listen to this wonderful rendition found in the New Living Translation – a rendition so good I use it in most weddings I officiate:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

True love is not judgmental but…UPLIFTING!

So how does the Christian understand true judgment? How about Romans 5:8:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

THAT’S true judgment. The JUST dying for the UNJUST! True judgment comes from an understanding of Who God is!


Did I mention I used to be the dog control officer for the City of Norwich? Over the course of 27 years, I was confronted with many cases, but none like this one. A distraught lady called me to her house: “come her at once – I have a complaint you need to hear for yourself!”. I knew this would be, well, INTERESTING!!! The caller took me to her backyard where she and her husband often enjoyed their nice patio. She said, “sit down here”. I sat! Then, she said, “Listen.” I listened! And listened! And…about 5 minutes later, the distinct bark of a dog could be heard, coming from about 3 blocks away from her back patio, “DO YOU HEAR THAT?”, she screamed at me. “THAT DOG’S BARKING HAS ENTERED MY SPACE!” What did I write in my follow-up report? I wrote, “Her KINGDOM – her backyard with its very nice patio – was a KINGDOM which created a standard which is impossible to meet or enforce.”

We must determine the standards of judgment. If we set ourselves up as judges, we must be willing to use those standards upon ourselves! As someone wisely observed, when we point 1 finger at others, 3 fingers are pointing back at us!

Let’s observe how God’s holiness is the true standard of judgment:

* With God’s holiness as the standard then we can understand Christ’s words “It is finished”. All eternal judgment is based upon man’s relation to the cross!

* Self judgment must begin in relation to our view of Christ (see 1 Cor. 11:27-32)

* The minister must judge himself and such judgment is based upon the foundation of Christ alone (see 1 Cor. 3:11-15)

* A Christian must judge himself – and will be judged in the future – by the terror of the Lord against personal sin (2 Cor. 5:6-11)

* Since God’s holiness is the true standard of judgment, we must govern our lives by great instruction like James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

If you set yourself up as a standard, be prepared to be judged by that standard! The better response might be, “Hey! May I share with you what I have first learned of Christ Himself?”

Thirdly, TRUE JUDGMENT BEGINS WITH…ME! (verses 3-5)

This week I am scheduled to have the first of two cataract surgeries – pretty exciting to be growing “more mature”, ain’t it? Yesterday a hospital nurse called and milked me through the procedure. Among other things, BEFORE the procedure even takes place, the surgeon will put 15 drops in my eye – one at a time and spaced well apart in time. Tuck that illustration away for a minute.

Our NKJV talks about the “speck” in your brother’s eye and the “plank” in your own eye. The old KJV talks about that “mote” or speck and that “beam” or plank. What often is that “speck” in our brother’s eye or life? It could be a touch of immorality, or some sin of the flesh, or something in HIS life which does not measure up to YOUR standards. So then, what are almost always the steps we then take to correct this heinous violation of our standards? Let’s see (and can YOU identify with these?):

* Pray for (and then we name the person BY NAME) ___________

* He/she did THIS (identify the violation BY NAME) ____________

* “Isn’t that AWFUL?” (Identifying your horror at the violation!)

* “He reproached OUR church, HIS family (oh, and ALSO Christ!)”

* “AND be sure to tell our BROTHERS AND SISTERS all the details so they can INTELLIGENTLY… PRAY!

But you forget about your eye drops – remember, those FIFTEEN eye drops? They are YOUR “log”, “plank”, literally YOUR beam! These absolutely obscure YOUR vision! Rather, those drops should cause us in our weakness to bear the FRUIT of humility, TRUE compassion, UNITY of heart, TEARS of sorrow.

We need to learn to LISTEN. James (James 1:19-20) wisely tells his readers,

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

As we close, you know what I’m challenged to do? YOU BET! I’m challenged to PRAY:

* To ask God to show me what MY planks are that I simply thought were little specks, and ONE BY ONE lay them at the foot of the cross

* To seek out those brothers and sisters in Christ that I have been overly judgmental before, and ONE BY ONE, seek their forgiveness – and together pray for His restoration of true fellowship in Him

* To seek out those who are NOT “in Christ”, who have never (YET!) trusted Jesus as Savior, who I have wronged by being so “heavenly minded and no earthly good” before them. And ONE BY ONE ask their forgiveness. And, ONE BY ONE, point them to the One Who taught me true love

HERE COME DE JUDGE!” Many years ago there was an old TV program – a classic at the time – called “Laugh-In”. Remember it? Each week the show’s characters presented many vignettes – some humorous, some perhaps a tad risqué (I really don’t remember them being risqué as I didn’t know Jesus as Savior at the time). But there was often one vignette where all the characters would shout “Here Come De Judge! Here Come De Judge!” I DO remember how much my dad and I would laugh and laugh and laugh – even if I don’t remember today anything that followed that. But I wonder if those words are what some of our family, friends, neighbors, church family and even unsaved folk say about us when they see US coming: “Here Come De Judge. Here Come De Judge”.

Let’s pray that when they see us – with an heart that has been humbled by the cross – they see the Lord Jesus and hunger for Him Whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3).

When folks see us may they see Jesus in us FIRST!