Recently I was watching the Andy Griffith Show that taught a wonderful lesson called, “Opie’s Charity.”
The episode from 1960 begins with Annabelle Silby coming by Andy’s house while he and Opie are playing catch. She’s soliciting help for the annual children’s charity drive.
When Andy and Annabelle go to the courthouse to discuss the status of the fund-raiser, she compliments Mayberry’s children for their willingness to help. Andy uses this opportunity to brag on Opie, suggesting he’s probably one of the biggest contributors in the class.
Annabelle, however, tells Andy that Opie has only given 3 cents to the charity. And the next lowest contributor was 5 cents.
When Andy returns home he has a discussion with Opie about the importance of giving and supporting the charity drive. Opie says he’s saving his money to buy a gift for his girlfriend, Charlotte.
As the show unfolds, Opie is resolute in his determination to save money for Charlotte’s gift, while Andy becomes more and more upset, agitated and embarrassed. Finally, Andy sends Opie to his room to think about his lack of generosity.
At this point, Aunt Bee intercedes and asks Andy to think about what he’s saying. Is he really trying to help Opie? Or is he more embarrassed because of what people might think of him as the town’s Sheriff?
Convicted that he’s overreacted, Andy calls Opie downstairs and says that if he wants to buy Charlotte a toy, take her to a movie, or spend it all on popcorn, that’s ok.
Opie then tells Andy something he never considered. “I was saving to buy her a coat.”
“A coat?” Andy asks.
“Yeah,” Opie continues, “her family doesn’t have a lot of money, and her coat is kinda worn out.”
Andy’s mouth drops. “But Opie, you never told me what the money was for.”
“You never asked,” Opie responded.
Our passage today speaks to Jesus’ condemnation of the improper judgment of others. It begins with this simple warning: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt 7: 1-2).
In his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine says the word “judge…primarily denotes to separate, to select, to choose, hence to determine, and so, to judge or to pronounce judgment.”
Jesus is saying that we ought not to assume the office of a judge, in the sense of the Lord’s judgment. Jesus is condemning harsh, censorious judgment. We are not to be hypercritical or hypocritical. As Max Lucado wrote, “It’s one thing to have an opinion. It’s quite another to pass a verdict. It’s one thing to have a conviction; it’s another to convict the person.”
Jesus uses a humorous illustration of someone who has a log in their eye trying to remove a shaving from someone else’s eye. Ridiculous. Absurd. And wrong. First, remove the glaring fault from your life before you try to correct others for their minor flaws.
Judging is wrong when we judge others…
…by jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts.
…without understanding the situation or the circumstances.
…by impugning and attacking their motives.
…with partiality, partisanship, and prejudice.
…with censorious, nit-picking, hair-splitting assumptions.
…by appearance instead of righteousness.
…without grace, mercy or love.
…when we have worse faults in our own lives which need correcting.
While not all judging is wrong, as we’ve pointed out in previous posts, I can relate to D. A. Carson’s self-observation, “The more I reflect on this passage, the more I find I am self-condemned. God grant me the grace to practice what I preach.”
Finally, Paul Earnhart’s advice will serve us well in applying this passage. “In all our dealings with others, we need to remember that we are not agents of the Lord’s judgment, but of His salvation. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Our task is to seek and to save the lost.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman