Sermon title:  WHEN DOES GOD WANT US TO JUDGE?

Luke 6:36-42 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 

    Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, May 13, 2018

 

 

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As we continue looking at Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount,

we come to one of the most misunderstood

passages in the Bible.

 

It’s found at Matthew 7:1,

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

 

It’s also found in the parallel account at Luke 6:37,

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged.

Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.”

 

It seems to be some people’s favorite verse in the Bible—

especially people who want to get away with

something they shouldn’t be doing.

‘You’re not supposed to judge me,’ they say.

 

Today being Mothers Day,

it seems appropriate to mention

that many mothers hear this from their adult children.

 

A daughter announces, “I’m moving in with my boyfriend.”

 

Then the mother says,

“That may be acceptable among your friends,

but it’s not acceptable to God,

and it’s not acceptable to your father and me.”

 

And the daughter replies,

“You’re not supposed to judge me.”

 

But, is that what Jesus meant?

 

Let’s look again at what our Lord said

in the Sermon on the Mount,

as we read it a moment ago in our Responsive Reading.

 

Beginning in Luke 6, Verse 36, Jesus said,

 

36 Be merciful,

just as your Father is merciful.

37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged.

Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

38 Give, and it will be given to you.

A good measure, pressed down,

shaken together and running over,

will be poured into your lap.

For with the measure you use,

it will be measured to you."

39 He also told them this parable:

"Can a blind man lead a blind man?

Will they not both fall into a pit?

40 A student is not above his teacher,

but everyone who is fully trained

will be like his teacher.

41 "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?

42 How can you say to your brother,

'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,'

when you yourself fail to see

the plank in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly

to remove the speck from your brother's eye.'

 

This whole passage is a lesson in how to be merciful,

as Jesus introduced it in Verse 36,

36 Be merciful,

just as your Father is merciful.

 

It was probably aimed at the Pharisees,

who were self-righteous hypocrites.

 

When Jesus healed a man’s withered hand,

instead of rejoicing at that miracle,

they were judgmental

and complained that it was done on the Sabbath.

They certainly weren’t merciful.

 

When Jesus healed a paralyzed man,

and told him to pick up his cot and go home,

instead of rejoicing that the man was healed and could walk,

the Pharisees were picky and judgmental,

and told him he shouldn’t be carrying his cot

on the Sabbath.

 

So, our Lord likely directed this lesson at those Pharisees.

 

He continued in Verse 37,

 

37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged.

Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

 

In Matthew chapter 12,

we read about an occasion

when

Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath.

His disciples were hungry

and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.

2 When the Pharisees saw this,

they said to him, "Look!

Your disciples are doing what is unlawful

on the Sabbath."

Jesus responded to them, defending his disciples.

And in his response, in Matthew 12, Verse 7,

Jesus told the Pharisees,

7 If you had known what these words mean,

'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,'

you would not have condemned the innocent.”

 

So, that helps us understand

why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount,

 

37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged.

Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

 

The Pharisees judged his disciples

and condemned them.

Jesus said they “condemned the innocent.”

 

And that’s what we could find ourselves doing

if we go around judging people

and condemning people.

We could find ourselves ‘condemning the innocent,’

especially if we are judging without mercy.

Jesus said,

36 Be merciful,

just as your Father is merciful.

37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged.

Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

 

Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong.

Jesus said we should be merciful.

------------------------

 

Superficial judgment is also wrong—

judging by appearances. 

 

At John 7, Verse 24, Jesus said,

“Stop judging by mere appearances,

and make a right judgment.”

 

“Stop judging by mere appearances,

and make a right judgment.”

 

So, there in John 7:24 Jesus tells us

not to judge by mere appearances,

but notice that he adds, make a right judgment.”

 

So, there are times when Jesus wants us to judge.

And he wants us to “make a right judgment.”

 

So, let’s go back

to the case of the daughter

who announces she is moving in with her boyfriend,

and the mother who responds

that sex outside of marriage

is unacceptable to God.

Is the daughter right

to counter with

“You’re not supposed to judge me”?

Or is this a case

where Jesus wants the mother

to  “make a right judgment”?

 

The answer is found in Titus, Chapter 2,

where the Apostle Paul

talks about the role of older women

in teaching younger women.

 

There, in Titus, Chapter 2, beginning with Verse 3,

Paul writes,

3 Likewise, teach the older women

to be reverent in the way they live,

not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine,

but to teach what is good.

 

4 Then they can train the younger women

to love their husbands and children,

5 to be self-controlled and pure,

to be busy at home, to be kind,

and to be subject to their husbands,

so that no one will malign the word of God.

 

So, according to this Bible passage,

older women have a God-given right

to “train the younger women.”

In particular, the older women

have a God-given assignment

to “train the younger women

to love their husbands and children, . . .

and to be subject to their husbands.”

 

So, the mother here is making a right judgment.

 

She is just fulfilling her God-given role

in telling her daughter

she should have a husband, not a live-together boyfriend.

The mother is teaching her daughter

what is right and wrong

in regard to marriage and family.

 

This is NOT a situation where Jesus says, “Do not judge.”

Rather, it is a situation where Jesus says,

to  “make a right judgment.”

 

And the purpose

is not to condemn the daughter,

but rather to bless her

with good advice

that will make her happier and more successful.

-------------------------

 

Hypocritical judgment is also wrong.

 

That’s why Jesus says at Luke 6, beginning in Verse 41,

 

41 "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?

42 How can you say to your brother,

'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,'

when you yourself fail to see

the plank in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly

to remove the speck from your brother's eye.'

 

It’s hypocritical to judge other people’s conduct,

when we are doing the same thing we’re accusing them of,

or when we are doing worse things.

 

We’ve all seen examples of that recently

in the news coverage

of the #MeToo movement.

 

Women began coming forward,

accusing prominent men of sexual harassment,

exploitation, and worse.

 

Some men who were TV show hosts, commentators or reporters,

covered the stories

and added their condemnation of the accused—

only to have it come to light later

that the TV reporters themselves

had engaged in the same bad conduct.

 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman,

was a leader in the #MeToo movement,

claiming to be a defender of women,

prosecuting men who abused them.

 

But just this week he was forced to resign

after 4 women accused him

of the same things, or worse—

choking, slapping, threatening and abusing them.

 

So, he had a plank in his own eye, all along,

while he was pretending to do something

about the sawdust in other men’s eyes.

 

Jesus says,

first take the plank out of your eye,

and then you will see clearly

to remove the speck from your brother's eye.'

 

And that is the intended result:

removing both the plank and the speck.

 

The Lord isn’t saying

that we should let our own faults

stop us from helping others overcome their faults.

 

But, rather, he is saying,

first take the plank out of your eye”

and then go on to help our brother,

then you will see clearly

to remove the speck from your brother's eye.'”

 

The Christian church should be a place

where both things take place:

where the Word of God helps us

overcome our own faults,

and where we help one another

to grow up as children of our heavenly Father.

 

But outside the Church,

we may encounter people who don’t want our help.

In Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount,

in Matthew 7:6, he notes that,

right after this discussion, Jesus added,

“Do not give dogs what is sacred;

do not throw your pearls to pigs.

If you do, they may trample them under their feet,

and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

So, we need to judge when to speak,

and when to keep silent.

 

But, the most important judging we can do

is to look at ourselves, in the light of God’s Word.

 

If we don’t work on our own faults—

if we leave that plank in our own eye—

it will blind us,

and make us incapable of helping others.

In Verse 39, Jesus said,

"Can a blind man lead a blind man?

Will they not both fall into a pit?

 

If we leave the plank in our own eye—

if we don’t ask God’s help to overcome our own faults—

we are useless when it comes to helping others.

We’re like a blind man leading a blind man.

 

On the other hand, if we DO listen to Jesus,

and benefit from the lessons he teaches us,

then what he said in Verse 40

becomes true in our case:

 

40 A student is not above his teacher,

but everyone who is fully trained

will be like his teacher.

 

So, our goal is to accept

the training that we receive from the Bible,

and then we will be like our teacher, Jesus:

we will develop a personality like his.

-----------------

 

So, when Jesus tells us, “Do not judge” (Luke 6:37)

he wants us to be merciful,

to overlook the faults of others.

 

We shouldn’t be like the Pharisees

who condemned the innocent. 

We shouldn’t look down on others,

with a judgmental ‘holier than thou’ attitude. 

 

But Jesus still wants us to judge right from wrong,

to judge truth from falsehood,

and to judge what is good from what is bad.

 

At Luke 12:57, he said,

“Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?”

 

At John 7:24 he said,

“Stop judging by mere appearances,

and make a right judgment.”

-------------------

 

But people continue to misapply Jesus’ words.

 

Aggressive advocates of the “gay pride” movement

come into churches

or arise among the children

and grandchildren of church members.

And they insist on their right

to become church members,

and maybe even to marry their same-sex partner in the church.

And when Bible-believing pastors and deacons tell them

that isn’t going to happen,

they quote Jesus out-of-context, and say,

“You’re supposed to love us.”

“You’re not supposed to judge us.”

That’s not what Jesus meant.

 

This is an area where Jesus said we should

‘judge what is right’  and “make a right judgment.”

 

In Revelation, Chapter 2, the risen Christ

told the Christian church in Thyatira

that he was unhappy with their tolerating

immorality in their midst.

 

In Revelation 2:20, he said,

“I have this against you:

You tolerate that woman Jezebel,

who calls herself a prophetess.

By her teaching she misleads my servants

into sexual immorality

and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

 

So, that church should have rebuked Jezebel.

 

God expects churches to judge such matters.

 

Churches also are supposed to judge

who should be in leadership, according to God’s standards.

 

1 Timothy 3:2-3 says,

“Now the overseer must be above reproach,

the husband of but one wife, temperate,

self-controlled, respectable, hospitable,

able to teach, not given to drunkenness,

not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome,

not a lover of money.”

 

So, churches need to judge

who among them fits those qualifications.

 

We can see the church’s responsibility to judge

spelled out for us

in the second part of this morning’s Responsive Reading.

 

It’s found at 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, beginning with Verse 1.

And there we are told

that churches and church members

have a responsibility to judge right from wrong

in real cases that involve real people.

It says,

1 If any of you has a dispute with another,

dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?

I should explain that the word “saints” here

simply means “holy people”

in other words, God’s people, the church of God.

Other translations render “saints” as

“The Lord’s people,”

“God’s holy people,”

“other believers.”

Verse 2 continues,

2 Do you not know

that the saints will judge the world?

And if you are to judge the world,

are you not competent to judge trivial cases?

3 Do you not know that we will judge angels?

How much more the things of this life!

4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges

even men of little account in the church!

5 I say this to shame you.

Is it possible

that there is nobody among you wise enough

to judge a dispute between believers?

6 But instead,

one brother goes to law against another—

and this in front of unbelievers!

7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you

means you have been completely defeated already.

Why not rather be wronged?

Why not rather be cheated?

8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong,

and you do this to your brothers.

 

Someday, when we sit with Christ on his throne in heaven,

we will judge the world.

We will even judge angels, this passage tells us.

So, can’t we judge

matters that arise within the church today?

 

If two church members have a dispute,

should they take it before Judge Judy?

Should they take each other to court

in front of judges who are unbelievers?

 

No, this passage tells us

we must have people in the church

who are wise and competent

to judge such matters.

It is the church’s responsibility

to judge disputes among its members.

 

And then 1 Corinthians 6 goes on in the very next verse—

in Verse 9, which we didn’t include in our Responsive Reading—

it goes on in 1 Corinthians 6:9

to answer those

who want to bring homosexual conduct

into the church,

and who say,

“You’re not supposed to judge us.”

It says,

“Do you not know

that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:

Neither the sexually immoral

nor idolaters nor adulterers

nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders

nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers

will inherit the kingdom of God.

And that is what some of you were.”

 

So, immediately after saying

that the church should judge disputes among its members,

it goes on to list examples

of what is not acceptable:

Those who are “sexually immoral...

idolaters ... adulterers

... male prostitutes ... homosexual offenders

... thieves ... the greedy ... drunkards ... slanderers ... swindlers.

 

Do we fit that description?

Do we see ourselves somewhere in that list?

Don’t give up hope!

Verse 11 says you can change.

It says,

11 And that is what some of you were.

But you were washed,

you were sanctified,

you were justified

in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

and by the Spirit of our God.

 

When we turn to Christ,

he forgives our sin,

and washes our sins away

by his blood that was shed on the cross for us.

 

So, the most important judging we can do—

is to look at ourselves in the mirror,

and compare who we are today

with who God wants us to be.

 

He will give us the power

to remove the speck from our eye

and even to remove the plank from our eye.