Judging others as a disciple of Jesus

Ds J Bruintjes
Mattheus 7: 1 - 7
Sermon on the Mount
Preek Inhoud: 

“Don’t Judge me – you have no right.”  “The Bible says do not judge.” We hear this all the time. “You have no right to tell me what to do.” “The church is so judgmental.”  Or we call on Jesus of Nazareth to aid the politician who we like, but who is corrupt, the famous rugby player caught up in his latest scandal, and tell people that they should not judge them.

What do we do with these comments, beloved? How do we react? Judge not, that you be not judged. What is Jesus talking about here? Is that how our Lord meant for this to be used. That we are never to pronounce whether anything is morally wrong in ourselves or others. Hardly. The bible is full of judgements. These include Jesus' command "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24), and Paul's rhetorical question "Is it not those who are inside [the church] that you are to judge?" (1 Cor. 5:12). Clearly not all judging is forbidden. If that were the case, the church could have no boundaries; the body of Christ would not be an identifiable body but a gaseous vapor!

There are two kinds of judgements. There is how God judges us, and how we are to judge each other. One flows from the other. How we judge each other should flow from how God has judged us in Christ. When Jesus says “Judge not,” He is talking about a form of judgement that does not place you alongside your fellow man, but over them. You judge from a position of self-righteousness. Jesus says we must not judge in this way, but this Is not a prohibition on judging.

Judging others as a disciple of Jesus means

  1. Not playing the judge.
  2. Looking within
  3. Seeing clearly

Not Playing the Judge.

Wow! I can’t believe he or she would do that!? Have you heard? We can so quickly look at someone’s life that has been turned upside-down and think, “Well they had it coming. It is their own fault. They should have known better.” The church can so quickly become this body that it is all about trying to look good because you fear that you will stand out and be judged as the black sheep. And when that does happen it can so easily happen that the person is run out of the church in shame, because they feel judged. This must not be.

How do we prevent this kind of judging? Again, it starts with your understanding of what Jesus does for us. Every day we mess up. We fall. We follow our pleasures over Him. We place ourselves before Him. Every day we ask for grace. For daily bread. For daily forgiveness. Every day he provides. It is out of grace that we live. It is through grace that we are motivated in the life of holiness. It is thought he incarnation – through Jesus becoming a man – and walking alongside us, sympathizing with all our weaknesses that we are helped in our time of need.

We reject Jesus and his work for us when we stand over a person, rather than walking with them. We reject Jesus when we pronounce judgement over them, rather than being recipients of the grace of God along with them.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce it will be you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” This means not judging anyone with a morally superionic attitude. It means not just saying what the other person is doing is wrong but calling them to walk with you in the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It means to judge with integrity and empathy, not hypocrisy. It means saying, “You know what Brother/sister, I am who you are, I do what you do. I know it’s a struggle. Let’s look to Christ. Let’s fight this evil together. What you are doing is wrong. But I want to walk with you ti conquer this sin. Would you take this journey with me?

Is there a piece of biblical wisdom more routinely ignored on the internet, not to mention in our own hearts, than Proverbs 18:17?—”The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” We hear something and so quickly we just state our judgement. Before thinking through it. Considering it from all angels. Showing real biblical wisdom. Instead we just spew outr opinions, and hurt so many in the process.

Before we accuse someone of serious misconduct, remember the book of Proverbs. “”If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13). Hear someone first. Hear all sides. Try to know their story. Get to know them. It can be so easily to know nothing about the person and you see them fall, and rush to judgement.

Too often we are quick to speak and slow to listen. The world, the flesh, the devil, and the internet want us to rush to judgment, when the Bible urges us to suspend judgment until we’ve heard from both sides. It happens all the time: pastors sinfully judge parishioners based on hearsay, church members criticize pastors without knowing the whole story, citizen assume the worst about politicians whenever another scandal emerges. The poor judge the rich for being greedy, and the rich judge the poor for being lazy.  Children will  attack their siblings at the drop of a hat. Husbands judge instead of listen, and wives judge instead of first seeking to understand.

Would you want to be judged that way? If you judge that way, Jesus says you can expect the same judgement.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. What measuring stick do you use? Often, I find people are most judgmental of the sins that they most struggle with. In the end, Jesus is the judge we need and long for. He is just and the justifier of the person who trusts in him (Rom. 3:26). He doesn’t turn a blind eye to sin; instead, he sees it—and then takes the judgment we deserve so we can stand justified and live under his wise rule. So that we can begin to truly fight against our wrongs openly and honestly.

How are you judging. Are you judging in such a way that everyone is afread to tell you anything, because either you will share with the world, or you will think less of them. Or are you judging in such a way that people feel like they can tell you things and know they have someone who will be honest about their sin, while still being patient with the sinner as they deal with it.

You see sometimes it starts with yourself. You need to see yourself in Christ. So that on the one hand you don’t condemn yourself. Or on the other hand dont become self-righteous.  

You judge yourself so harshly that you never confess sin, because you think there is no way out, and you are lost! YOU ARE NOT! There is grace. There is someone who comes along side us in our time of weakness. The Holy Spirit, the comforter, the paraclete.

Or you become self-righteous by comparing yourself to others and not seeing yourself in Christ, and you become harsh and unforgiving, and unloving. Let Jesus break your heart of stone.

Looking within

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Just take a moment to imagine this scene. One man has a speck in his eye, the other has a massive wooden beam in his eye. All of us have had an irritating objects like dust in our eyes, but hopefully we cannot say the same about a beam of wood. But imagine you did. What would happen?

Well a few things. First of all, you would be blind. And, secondly, you would be hurting everyone around you as you swing this big beam around. So not only would you be incapable of doing surgery on someone else, but you would seriously injure them every time you moved by whacking them over the head with the beam that is in your eye. The beam will only hurt the other person further. And this is what happens isn’t it? We think we can fix other people’s problem, tell them why they are so wrong, and before we know it we have destroyed the relationships. Why? Because it started with telling them, rather than listening to them. When this happens, we hurt others, and we set ourselves to be judged in the same way.

Now the question you may ask is how could anyone see a splinter without noticing a massive beam in their own eye? Well it happens all the time with us. We see the tiniest sin in others, but don’t notice that daily we slander people, or gossip, or lie, or lust, or are lazy, or greedy. We see huge problems in the church, but no problem in our heart.

These hypocrites did not even realize they were hypocrites. That is the worst kind of hypocrite. for all their seriousness and piety, the religious leaders were themselves afflicted with a blindness far worse than the one they detected. They had a log in their own eye, and it disqualified them as speck-removers. They treasured their Bible and law, but they did not know God or how to listen to Him. They thought the others had the log they had the speck. It was the tax collectors and sinners that had the log. But you know acknowledging sin in your own life is the first step to removing the log. Self-rightoueness, is the log here.

They were not willing to admit that they were on the same level as the prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. Would we? The questions start with yourself. Confess that you are a sinner. Once you do that honestly and openly, you will be able to see a lot more clearly to help you brother and sister. But by the grace of God, you and I would be no better than prostitutes, or gang members. If we began to think more and more like this, think how we would treat the worst of sinners among us. I am so glad that I see this attitude among so many of you. Grace filled. As you serve in the prisons, and your nighebors. And I want to continue to encourage it!

Realize you are in need, see a reflection of you when you speak to someone else.  This is what it means to begin with the log. It means coming to an understanding of who you are before God as a disciple of Jesus.

When Jesus said these words to the pharisees I think we would have been surprised if we had been there.  We could have easily thought, “who would dream that pious Judaism, represented in priesthood and Pharisee, could have a log like that in its own eye? Who could imagine that leaders so concerned so concerned with the law, were abusing it to their own end? Or that those who called Jesus devil-possessed were themselves possessed by devils? Yet that is how the father of lies returns to deceive the people of God from within their own piety, not only in old Israel but equally in the church.

This is where confession of sin comes in. Where things look most pure, that is where Satan plants the log. Let us be ever watchful. Every confessing our sin, ever repenting. Ever looking to Jesus and seeing our lives in the light of his holiness. Ever growing in his grace so that we might also show greater grace to those around. Dear church judgement will start with the household of God. The day came when those who judged Jesus found themselves on trial. The investigators became the investigated. The eager surgeons had to face surgery.

Kets let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. We can be so aware of the logs and specks in other people or other churches. But we are only capable of taking them out from a position of humility in Christ, realizing that we too need that grace, that surgery. Our eyes opened.

So, what’s the fix? Does Jesus tell both guys to find a mirror and deal with their eye problems by themselves? No. Jesus tells the guy with the beam to get it out before helping his brother with the splinter. Nevertheless, he doesn’t remove the responsibility of believers to help spot and remove sin from the lives of those they love: “and then you will see clearly to take out the splinter from your brother’s eye” (7:5).

Seeing Clearly

and then you will see clearly to take out the splinter from your brother’s eye” (7:5). Jesus us not telling us to not judge at all. He is saying with the measure that you judge you will be judged. We are called to call out sin. Great and small. We are called to admonish each other. We are called to discern what is good and right and beautiful. We are called to pronounce what is right and wrong in the household of God. Real authority was given by Jesus to the elders of the Church to do exactly that. And they are called to do that, from the position of being in Jesus. From the position of one who has himself experienced the grace of God.

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. Obviously, he is saying that we must judge here. Who are the dogs who are the pigs? It’s the ones that don’t get it. The blind. The unbelievers. Those religious leaders that refuse to listen to correction.  Particularly hypocrites, who even if you give them the gospel, and treat them with grace filled judgement they will turn on you and judge you. Attack you. And do everything they can to destroy you. They can be know everything about what they believe are the finer points of religion but know nothing about the gospel. As Paul says, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. you may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” They are self condemned. They judge themselves by their attitudes.

So in conclusion, This passage isn’t difficult because Jesus forbids making judgments; it’s difficult because Jesus demands his followers show humility when they judge—something that doesn’t come easily. Jesus forbids them from being hypocrites and making hypocritical judgments. Especially in the church this can be easy. For long term Christians we must be on our watch for this.

We as a church must always be busy trying to see more clearly. We do this by standing in the light of Jesus and his word. By letting his word speak to us, convict us, help us to grow. We do this by going to the cross daily. You do this by listening to the Word, and praying that God would work it in our hearts. That his word would continue to break us down, and shine in the darkest places. And expose our hypocrisy.

Primarily we do this through depening our understanding of the Gospel. By that gospel God removes one log after another, so that we might also be used by him to remove one speck after another which has been implanted in our hearts or in the church through our own sinful nature, the world, or traditions.

So we are called to judge, but only if we see ourselves in the light of the gospel. So in conclusion let me lay out four principles for not judging.

  1. Be careful about using a single Bible verse to make a point. I don’t know anyone who likes it when their words get twisted, so let’s do our best not to do it to Jesus or the Scriptures.
  2. Make judgments with empathy and grace. Followers of Jesus must make moral judgments, with a full awareness of their own sinfulness and need of forgiveness. (Gal. 6:1–2).
  3. Never judge with hypocrisy. Jesus commands his followers to make judgments about sin; however, we must diligently avoid viewing ourselves as better than others who sin.
  4. Don’t cower in fear when a judgment needs to be made. We shouldn’t use Jesus’s warning against hypocrisy as an excuse to absolve us from declaring unpopular truth.

Let’s pursue flourishing together in Jesus’s kingdom. May he empower us to judge with clarity, humility, courage, and with beam-free eyes