“Judge Not” – Jesus…Pretty Clear Right?

1409595_99556189On Sunday we looked at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7 where he says don’t judge. What I think is important to recognize is that here Jesus isn’t saying there isn’t right or wrong. He isn’t teaching some relativistic ~ do whatever you want just don’t hurt anyone. What he is teaching is how to go about dealing with right and wrong in the context of relationships. He is talking about what to do with the hurt, missed expectations, and messiness of relationships.

He begins by reminding us not to judge. This is because judgment always separates us from God and others. Whenever we judge we separate ourselves from another person, place ourselves above them, and set expectations of them. This is the essence of what we do when we judge someone. Think of a court where the judge is high and distant from the accused. This is what we do in a relationship when we judge.

We also separate ourselves from God. We actually place ourselves in his role and his seat when we judge others. The bible is clear, God is the judge, which means we are not. D. A. Carson writes, “The disciple who takes it on himself to be the judge of what another does usurps the place of God, and therefore becomes answerable to him”. This is serious stuff. Judgment separates us from God and others.

It also blinds us. Bonhoeffer writes, “By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are”. His point is that when we judge we place ourselves in God’s shoes, and forget that we aren’t perfect and we need grace just as much as everyone else. The serious part of Jesus’ challenge though is that he says the measure you use to judge others, will be the measure used to judge you. So if you refuse to give grace and mercy to others, which is every time you judge, then God will not be able to give grace and mercy to you. Carson puts it this way: The judgmental person, by not being forgiving and loving, testifies to his own arrogance and impenitence, by which he shuts himself out of God’s forgiveness”.

This is why it is so serious and can’t be part of the Kingdom or Christian’s lives.

So Jesus goes on to teach then how to deal with hurt and wrong in relationships. His point isn’t that everything is healthy, but how to deal with the unhealthy stuff in relationships. So he says deal with your own plank, before trying to help someone else (Matthew 7:3). The point is that we are called to deal with our sin, stuff, and brokenness before trying to fix someone else.

The brilliance of Jesus is that as we deal with our stuff, and experience God’s grace, blessing, and transformation it will change how we relate to others. No longer will we be relating to others through judgment and condemnation on our high horses. But instead, we will stoop low and help to support and love broken and hurting people.

Jesus’ challenge to Christians is to stop judging, deal with your own stuff, and then help others. And I think this is a challenge I know I need to hear. It’s so easy to judge, but Jesus is calling us to do the hard work of living differently.

So I left us with a challenge to try to simply get rid of judging this week. I know it will be hard, and maybe even impossible. But the beautiful thing about God is that he sometimes steps in and the impossible happens…

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Stop judging, and start dealing with your stuff

Take Aways…

  • What if we actually did what Jesus said?
  • The temptation: to turn our good actions into reasons to rank ourselves higher than others
  • Judgment separates and blinds us
  • The disciple who takes it on himself to be the judge of what another does usurps the place of God, and therefore becomes answerable to him. D.A. Carson
  • By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • The judgmental person by not being forgiving and loving testifies to his own arrogance and impenitence, by which he shuts himself out of God’s forgiveness. D.A. Carson
  • We need to deal with our stuff, before focusing on someone else’s stuff.
  • When you deal with your stuff, you’ll be in a position to help, because you’ll have been transformed by grace.
  • Give up judging this week
  • Condemnation – giving and receiving it – is such a large part of our ‘normal’ human existent that we may not even be able to imagine or think of a world without it. Dallas Willard
  • Notice when your judging, choose to love, and confess our sins to God.
  • When we judge other people we confront them in a spirit of detachment, observing, and reflecting as it were from the outside. But love has neither time nor opportunity for this. If we love, we can never observe the other person with detachment, for his is always and at every moment a living claim to our love and service. Bonhoeffer
  • How can I love them
  • What plank do I have in my eye?
  • If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. Bonhoeffer

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

What did you find hardest about this teaching? How natural does judging feel for you? Why is it so hard to give up judging? What “reward” do you get from it? What situations do you find yourself most likely to judge? How can you start to practice what Jesus preaches? Who are you called to love this week rather than judge? Who can help you to follow in this teaching? What plank is Jesus asking you to deal with? Who can you ask about your “planks”? What do you think about the last Bonhoeffer quote?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Today rather than talking to your kids about this teaching, and judging. Ask them if its something they do a lot or not. Teach them that judging is wrong, but loving is right. Ask them to this week whenever they feel a judging thought – to instead think of one nice thing about the person.

Challenge for this Week: Give up judging

Jesus Didn’t Really Mean Don’t Judge Right…

1409594_29311718This Sunday we are looking at probably the most important teaching of Jesus for our day and age. I say this because two of the 3 tops things Christians in North America are known for is being judgmental, and hypocritical. The irony, and also the deep sadness is that Jesus is really clear: do not judge. (Matthew 7:1)

Soren Kierkegaard once said something like, the Bible is clear, most Christians just don’t want to follow it. And I think of that often in terms of this teaching of Jesus. It couldn’t be clearer but it also couldn’t be less practiced.

So on Sunday I want to help us begin to practice this by peeling back some of the layers and seeing how when we judge we separate ourselves from others and God. I want to discover how Jesus’ teaching is so freeing, brilliant, and amazing that we should want to live this way.

I know sometimes it’s hard to imagine a world without judging and condemning because it is so normal to us. But we need to imagine a world without it, we need to practice a world without – because that’s God’s kind of world. That’s God’s kingdom, a community and a place where people don’t judge but go graciously to one another. A place where people deal with their own stuff, rather than trying to deal with someone else’s. A place where people who have experienced grace, share grace.

So I think this Sunday matters because I think we need to learn how to live without judgment. I think we desperately need to learn how to live without condemning others. I think we need to learn to live like Jesus – or at least I do. Because judging comes so naturally to me, it’s so easy to have a running dialogue of judging thoughts go through my head. But here Jesus is clear, don’t judge. And my honest belief is that if Jesus taught it, we should do it. And not only that, he will provide a way for us to do it. And that’s what we want to discover, a way to live without judgment.

So that’s where we are going, but before we get there why not do this little thought experiment for the rest of the weekend. Why not just try to notice how often you judge. And as you do think about how your relationships and this world might be changed if we just got rid of that. I think it’s worth trying to do. What about you?