SOTM-Judging Others

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is 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. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:1-6)

One side of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is to help His listeners to know the character of the Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father who is ever present and sees us in secret, and our Heavenly Father is wanting to reward us with His care and comfort. We are not to live a life in anxiety because our Heavenly Father knows our needs and He is directly involved in His creation. By our trust in God and our faith in Jesus we are free to devote ourselves to seek His Kingdom and live according to His good and perfect will.

In this next section of Scripture we are looking at judgment. In the Greek this word judgment has a double meaning. Judgment means discernment and condemnation. The purpose of discernment for ourselves and others is our hope of restoration, healing, and sanctification. Our judgment of our selves is a self-examination to see that we are living in the faith that we are striving to be more Christ like. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Our judgment or discernment of others is the hope that God will heal and transform those that we are concerned about in Christian love. Even for those who themselves have hurt us. Our discernment is never to place the final word upon someone as we do not know the true heart of that person and only God does and He knows the last word.

The other side of the Sermon on the Mount is that Jesus is teaching us the characteristics of the true Christian character. At the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was teaching His disciples, He was teaching the crowds who had come to hear Him, and the scribes and Pharisees were there as well. We must remember that Jesus did not come to condemn but to save and His mission was aimed at the scribes and Pharisees as well as all others, but the scribes and Pharisees did not have ears to hear. In many places of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus drew a contrast between the true believers and the religious elite, the scribes and Pharisees. As we have previously discussed we are not to practice our righteousness or piety to impress others. God is our audience and sees in secret and knows what we do and He is our judge. We are not to live for the admiration of men but for the approbation of God.

Jesus used the Pharisees as His prime example of religious hypocrisy. The Pharisees had established a religion of righteousness, works and law. People are judged the most by people who feel superior in their own self-righteousness. The problem with this is that they are comparing themselves amongst their peers and the common sinners of the day. What they fail to realize is that God judges righteousness by one standard, that of His Son Jesus Christ.

There are those whom I have known that say they never judge. I just smile and move on. People make judgments all though their day. Our very reaction to the events of our life require that we make judgments. The question becomes are they judgments of condemnation or they discernments based on our love for their spiritual welfare? Jesus was making judgments on the Pharisees but He was not doing so to condemn them, He was trying to persuade them to turn the light on. This is the context of our discernment to lift them up to a better life in the bonds of Christian love.

So many times at funerals I hear people decide if that person has gone to heaven or to the pit. How can they possibly know, none of us is capable to think or judge as the righteous judge, God. We can suspect but we cannot know whose servant that person truly was. “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)

We may think that we know the true motives of someone, the intentions of their heart, but can we really know. Jeremiah said the heart is so deceitful that none can know it. (Jeremiah 17:9) We should not judge the motives of others and only react to what they have revealed. “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11)

We should never judge someone for things that we ourselves have been involved with also. I believe that given time all things will come to truth, certainly when the Lord returns and absolutely when we face out own judgment. Jesus taught that we should remove these things from our own vision before we point to what others are doing. How could we understand the struggle they are going through if we ourselves have not fought the battle? “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” (Romans 2:1)

There is an argument against profiling in our society today and I am not arguing either for or against. But we should hold back from making hasty judgments based upon outward appearances. I was in a Church back home in West Virginia a few years back and a young girl came in and sat down in front of me. One of the ladies of the Church came over and told the girl that she would have to leave because her clothes were not up to standard for that Church. As it turns out they had a quest preacher that Sunday and it was his daughter that was asked to leave. People have a tendency to be presumptive and make judgments which are not based on the truth. Who of us is righteous enough to make the judgments of God on His children? “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

I have learned by experience that God convicts people in different ways. One man’s treasure is another’s trash. What may be sinful to one may not be for another. We should not judge people on errors that are not contained in the Scriptures. This perhaps was one of the greater charges against the Pharisees. “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” (Romans 14:2-3)

We must not forget the attitude that the Christian is to have. Jesus began this sermon with the beatitudes and the fifth one was, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) When we judge we should not judge out of condemnation but out of love and a willingness to show mercy. As Jesus is teaching us here that we will be judged by the same measure that we judge others. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

We are to edify our brothers and sisters in the faith. This is one of the reasons that we go to Church to help each other grow in our spiritual maturity. When we make these discernments we are coming against the action and not the person. When a person has violated a principle of Scripture we can work to correct that person without condemning them. “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

We are a family, a family of God’s children and when one has stumbled and in need of spiritual guidance we should do so with meekness as we too have a frailty that the adversary longs to exploit. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

It is a fine line that we must walk with people. It should always be preceded by prayer. We are not the judge of people but we must disseminate between those who have a desire to learn of the spiritual things. There are some that do and many who do not. We are to protect the holy truths of God from those who will only ridicule the truth because of its painful conviction. There are those who will turn to blasphemy of God Himself. I hear and read enough OMG’s every day to know they have no fear of the Lord. “Therefore, thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you– Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, But as for you, you must not turn to them.” (Jeremiah 15:19)

We must live our lives for Christ guided by the Holy Spirit who will discern between those who are ready to hear the gospel message of Jesus Christ and those who will reject it and ridicule it. Sadly, for the most part we live in a world that is carnally minded and are not capable to understand the spiritual things. This we must know that to them we are speaking foolishness and they will never listen to the truth that we wish to share. It is painful to see and all we can do is pray that God will open the door. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 28, 2016

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