- Today's scripture comes from Matthew 7:1-6. You can read it HERE. As Pastor Dave mentioned, it's not a "feel good" kind of passage. It's a tough one to unpack.
In today's verses, we encounter Jesus' second question to us: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Why are we focusing so much on other people, missing what's going on with ourselves?
Today's word is Judge/Judging
Judging - form an opinion or conclusion about something or someone
Judgemental - having or displaying an excessively critical point of view
On the surface, judging seems to be needed - we make judements or assessments all day long. And many are totally acceptable and needed. But, we live in a society in which everything is judging/judgemental : If I disagree with you I am judging you - we are fearful and terrified of this. We are throwing everything into this area of judging and perhaps that's not the best idea. In the pluralistic society in which we live, the greatest "sin" is intolerance. Tolerance tells us that no matter what a person believes, no matter what a person does, we are to be tolerant and not "judge" them. From a biblical standpoint that is not true. Is there room for "constructive judging"??
The world may not know the Bible but they are armed with Matthew 7:1: "Do not judge or you will be judged." The world is ready to attack with this verse - but isn't it ironic that in using this verse, they are judging as well? As always, there is more to the idea than just the quote. In our attempts to create diversity and tolerance, we are dumbing down our beliefs to the lowest common denominator, so maybe no one will be offended. And in doing so, we are not being tolerant of our diversity.
The Greek word for judge is "diakrino" which translates as judge/discerne/weigh heavily. The word actually means to separate, examine, questions, select, choose or determine. Scripture tells us we should be testing everything to the Word of God.
What is Jesus saying here to you and I in the body of Christ?
- I am not to judge and condemn - there is a difference between between being judgemental and holding someone accountable -- we care about the person and the outcome
- I am to practice unconditional love (to the best of my ability) - we can disagree but still love others
- I am to be more worried about my own faults than the faults of others - as we hold others accountable, we need to remember our own messes and imperfections
- Do unto others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12) - even when we disagree, we do not need to be hurtful or unkind
- I am to avoid pomposity - the state of being pompous -- Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement. (Romans 12:3)
Jesus is condemning being judgemental AND telling us how to judge. To be judgemental is an attitude. To judge is to assess, determine, and discern based on the Word of God, applying grace and love, know that I too am imperfect. We are sinners in need of a Savior.
- If I judge with wrong motives I will be judged the same way.
- If I judge without having all the facts I will be judged the same way.
- If I possess a judgemental attitude I will be judged the same way.
We are to be aware of our own shortcomings, and to deal with them before we approach another person.
"Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement." (John 7:24) --- He's not saying to never make a judgement, but to make a sound, right judgement.
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct; rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2) --- We have a responsibility as the body of Christ - to be ready to do these these things if we see problems in a fellow brother or sister in Christ. To judge in the right way, without being judgemental.
Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible - but not everything is constructive. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Where do we strick that balance between not being judgemental, but instead coming alongside them? In John 8:1-11, we read the story of Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery. The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus as we know. And while the world would have the story end after Jesus does not condem the woman, the story ends when Jesus tells her to go and leave her life of sin. This is the message for you and I - Jesus does not condemn the woman, but neither does he overlook, cover up, or excuse her sin. That's what you and I are called to do with those we love. It may be a judgement if we see something happening in someone's life and come alongside them in love. But when we don't condemn, we don't become judgemental. When we remeber the verses below and look at our own lives first....
Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)