August 18, 2019
Series: Sermon on the Mount
Talk #11 Judge and Jury (Matt 7:1-6)
The counter-culture lifestyle of a follower of Jesus is not individualistic. It is in relationship, in community, with accountability and, God knows, we all need some help along these lines…humans always have. Left to our own devices, given the choice, most of us will shy away from intimacy rather than engage the hard, sometimes difficult work of “becoming” because to become something or someone that we currently are not is to open up and allow other people to speak into our journey.
So we ask questions, we listen carefully and, if we trust in Jesus, we lean into His words of assurance that, as we love others as He loves us, we will be informed by the Spirit of almighty God to give the right word at just the right time (in due season Prov.15:23). Because Jesus calls us to bring grace and truth AND discernment to the table. He calls us to rightly judge but to do so is to do so with love and grace and mercy and humility. Never do arrogance and self-righteousness have a place at the table but, rather, knowing our own fallibility and humanity we approach our friends when we see things in each other’s lives that require us to speak up – to not let our brother and sister live in a place of condemnation, in a place of sin where evil overtakes them. Love is NOT being permissive with evil. Love is NOT overlooking the destruction in another person’s life. So, we call it out and we love each other in the process of being held to account with grace and truth all wrapped up with Holy Spirit-inspired discernment.
About grace and truth…Pastor/Author Carey Nieuwhof says:
“Remove grace from the truth and you don’t actually have truth at all, but a cold, steely imitation. The opposite is also true, of course. Remove truth from grace and you don’t have grace, but a spineless imitation. Fusing grace and truth is an exceptionally difficult venture and is usually only successful when you spend significant amounts of time praying about and persisting in being really honest about your own journey. Few of us are good at it, flipping from one side to the other too quickly.”
But here’s the deal…when you see grace and truth fused, it takes your breath away. Why did people travel for days on foot in extreme conditions to meet Jesus?
BECAUSE GRACE FUSED TO TRUTH IS WHAT OUR HEARTS MOST DEEPLY LONG FOR.
But in the church today, the hard edge of truth has crushed many.
Check it – Judgment and condemnation are incompatible with at least 5 beautiful attributes of a healthy Christian which, when practiced, translates into a healthy local church.
The presence of judgment almost always guarantees an absence of love. Think about it through the lens of your marriage, a friendship or even someone you work with: it is virtually impossible to love someone and judge someone at the same time.
What if they’re making a mistake and I need to correct them?
First of all, look at your mistakes and the depth of your sin and deal with your issues first. In the process, you’ll encounter a loving God who forgives you despite your rather egregious sin.
You can’t love someone and also judge them.
Ever notice that people who judge almost never help and people who help almost never judge? That’s because judgment creates a line. The line is labeled “better than” or “smarter than” or “more righteous than” the person who needs help. Help knows no such line. It just knows how to help.
When Jesus taught on judgment, not only did He tell us not to judge and to remove the massive timber from our own eye before trying to find the speck of dust in someone else’s eye first, but He then showed us the purpose of removing the speck from someone else’s eye: it’s to help them. If you’re not trying to help, don’t bother. You’ll probably only make it worse. And if you are trying to help, you’ll likely notice something else has disappeared: any sense of judgment you once carried.
Judgment is never grounded in humility (As in: “Yep, me too. I’m also a mess. Let’s figure this out together.”)
Judgment is grounded in arrogance. That’s because a judgmental person almost always carries with them a sense of condescension (“I never get into this kind of situation myself…you should be as good as I am)” or a sense of pity (“poor, stupid you”).
Judgment always says “I’m better than you”, “I know more than you” and “I’m also superior to you”. No wonder people run from it.
Very few people get judged into life change. Many people get loved into it.
Humility, by contrast, fosters empathy. It says “I’m like you. I get that. Maybe we can help each other.”
MANY PEOPLE WOULD RUN TO THAT!!
There’s also a connection between judgment and prayer. Judging someone and praying for someone are pretty much mutually exclusive. You can’t pray for someone you judge because you’re actually not for them. Sure, you can pray about them, but again, your prayer won’t be grounded in humility. It might be grounded in anger or in arrogance or superiority, but it won’t be grounded in love.
You never truly pray for someone you judge. Conversely, if you want to stop judging someone, pray for them.
It’s impossible to judge someone and truly pray for them at the same time.
Filling our church with judgmental Christians will kill the culture of invitation that we’ve all worked hard to establish. The invitation is to not only join this movement of Restōr, but to step into relationship with Jesus. People run from people who judge them. They run to people who love them. Think about it – that’s what you do: you run from people who judge you.
When grace and truth are fused, people usually run toward it because the combination of truth and grace describes a reality they’re facing and brings actual hope that things can get better.
God never asked you to judge the world. He did ask you to love it.
You will never regret:
- Assuming the best about people
- Overlooking as much as possible
- Offering more encouragement than advice and criticism
- Remembering the log in your eye will always skew how you see pain, disappointments, and other people.