JUDGING OTHERS (Matthew 7)

Reading: Matthew 7: 1-6 (NLT)

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”

 

INTRODUCTION

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged

Are you the sort of person who jumps to conclusions?

  • I sometimes think that I know why someone has acted in a particular way, only to discover that I was completely mistaken!
  • How easy to adopt a mind-set that someone doesn’t speak to me ‘because she doesn’t like me’… and ‘I haven’t been asked to help because the leader thinks I’m stupid’!
  • I’ve read numerous accounts of how a man and a lady didn’t get on at all well at first… but ended up falling in love and getting married!

A Christian lady I see in a church at which I speak seemed stern and undemonstrative… at first!

  • But I’ve slowly discovered that she has a heart of gold and quietly ‘goes around doing good’ in all sorts of ways…

It is so easy to jump to (sometimes wrong) conclusions…

  • The homeless person chose that way of life, so can’t complain!
  • The prisoner deserves what he got.
  • The politicians are only in it for themselves!
  • The successful businessman only succeeded by trampling on others
  • That person comes to church irregularly because she lacks commitment…
  • OR… The show-biz celebrity is a wonderful person!
  • The preacher is a saintly man!

If we were better informed, perhaps we might discover that:

  • The homeless person was thrown out by his parents when he was 16 years old
  • The prisoner comes from a family of crooks and was brought up to believe that stealing is okay, providing you aren’t caught!
  • A survey of politicians shows that a desire to serve is a major factor for them entering politics
  • The businessman works very hard and is an excellent employer
  • The person who attends church infrequently does so because she has to care for her aged mother
  • BUT… The celebrity is, in reality, a nasty piece of work!
  • As for the preacher…the less said, the better!

And how shocked we are when an apparently happily married couple separate and divorce!

Truly, we look on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart!

It’s important to understand that when Jesus speaks about ‘not judging’, he is not saying that we should accept everything that is said and happens without comment or response…

The heart of Christian living is to do what Jesus Christ commands and walk in step with the Spirit

  • Sometimes this requires firm but loving responses, though church discipline often results in the person leaving and finding another fellowship!

In recent years, the concepts of “tolerance” and “respect” have been popular themes…

  • But it is clear that we cannot, should not and must not tolerate everything, however well-intended it may (or may not) be
  • Why should we tolerate something that we find intolerable?
  • Why should we show respect for something or someone whose actions and lifestyle are damaging to others and to society?

It’s not a question of some people being tolerant and respectful, while other people are not!

  • It’s a question of where an attitude, action or reaction becomes unacceptable
  • In other words, where do we ‘draw the line’ and say ‘thus far, no further

And as a Christian, I am not called to be passive in the face of morally indefensible acts… but to stand firm for the things of which God approves and disapproves.

It has to be admitted that there are some areas of life that cause controversy among Christians… and divide opinion…

  1. The use of alcohol…
  2. Buying Lottery tickets or raffle tickets…
  3. Shopping or playing sport on Sunday…
  4. Belonging to a particular Political Party or movement…
  5. Same-sex “marriage”…
  6. Wearing hats or shorts in church…
  7. Dancing…
  8. Women preaching…
  9. Smacking naughty children…
  10. Going to war…
  11. Use of the death penalty…
  12. Allowing Moslem migrants to enter the country…
  13. Living together before marriage…
  14. Using a particular version of the Bible…

If you saw someone from this congregation buying a Lottery ticket or smacking her child on the back of the leg or playing football at the park on Sunday, would you be shocked? Do you have the right to judge that person?

  • After all, Jesus taught that we should not judge others, didn’t He!

So how are we to decide when it is right to speak up and when to remain silent? Great wisdom is required.

Especially, where there is no specific guidance in the Bible about a particular issue… and where godly men and women offer contrasting views on the subject?

But a closer examination of Jesus’ words sheds new light on the issue

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

  • Jesus is clearly speaking about judging ‘person to person’ and not ‘God to person’.
  • To suggest that judging someone will lead to God’s judgement on that person is to misrepresent what Jesus actually said
  • Jesus’ words are intensely practical… ‘Avoid jumping to wrong conclusions about other people unless you are prepared for them to do the same to you, and worse!’
  • A harsh, critical, unloving attitude will rebound on the judgemental person and cause distress

Notice how Jesus refers to “the standard”… Our standards must be high… full of integrity… keen that the other person benefits … not interested in our own status… eager to resolve not accuse!

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Here we find the key word: “Hypocrite”

Have you met anyone whom you might describe as a “nit-picker”?

  • A person who will always look for a fault or failing rather than be encouraging and generous in praise
  • I had a friend who was a traffic officer… He said that if he wanted to do so, he could find a fault with any carIs that like you or me!
  • Someone I know was described with some degree of accuracy as “full of silent criticism” because although she rarely said anything openly, her silence indicated disapproval.

Jesus didn’t mince His words!

  • Our criticism of others is never justified if we are indulging in similar behaviour!
  • In other words, being hypocritical
  • Avoiding hypocrisy is not the same as remaining silent when something needs to be said!

And there lies the heart of the matter

  • We need first to set our own lives in order… then we are in a position to carefully and lovingly advise or confront someone about his or her attitude and behaviour
  • The Apostle Paul emphasises the need for us to approach sensitive matters graciously and with humility
  • The person must be given opportunity to change course and go in God’s direction

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”

When we consider what Jesus’ said as recorded in verses 1-5, these words seem a bit out of place… and they probably are!

  • Scholars tell us that Matthew’s account of the sermon on the mount is probably not in strict chronological order and incorporates words of Jesus uttered on other occasions
  • The reason for drawing this conclusion is that some of the words recorded in Matthew appear in Luke on other occasions
  • Remember that Matthew didn’t call this section “the sermon on the mount”, we did!

Do these facts make any difference? None whatsoever, providing we don’t try and create an artificial link between verses 1-5 and verse 6 that never existed.

  • That said, there are serious implications in Jesus’ words recorded in verse 6, not least the implication that some people are ‘beyond’ redemption’
  • They have chosen to pursue the broad path that leads to destruction
  • Regardless of the time and energy expended in speaking of sacred issues to such people, the outcome will be barren!

Pigs (swine) in Jesus’ statement were in all likelihood wild boars, not the tame piggy-wiggy of children’s tales…

  • Jesus’ listeners would be well aware of the fearsome reputation that boars had (and still have!)
  • They are not interested in shiny pieces of glass… but in filling their stomachs!
  • Try feeding them pearls instead of proper food and watch their reaction!

Likewise, some people are, sadly, only interested in personal gain…

  • They are described as ‘carnal’ (Romans 8: 5-7, NKJV). Thus:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

I mentioned earlier that the context of Jesus’ words applies to the relationship between people and their attitudes to one another… It is not primarily referring to God’s judgement

However, we cannot leave the subject of ‘judging’ without some reference to the fact that one day the world will end and eternity will begin

At that time, there will be two judgements, one for Christian believers and one for those who have rejected Christ

  • At the Judgement Seat of Christ, believers will be rewarded based on their good works—how faithfully we served Christ; how well we obeyed the Great Commission; how much we loved one another; our attitude towards others; how victorious we were over sin; how well we controlled our tongues; how we used the gifts and talents that God has given us.
  • Everyone else will appear at the Great White Throne … those who have deliberately rejected Christ in life are already doomed to the lake of fire.
  • Those who never had opportunity to hear the Gospel or were aborted or who died in infancy will all be treated justly by God… but that’s a subject for another time!

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