Celebrating 77 Years Of Ministry
To God Be The Glory
Current Sermon Series: "The Sermon on the Mount"
November 29nd: "Ask, Seek, Knock"
Read: Matthew 7:7-12. Please join us at 10:45 AM.
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K through 5th grade, from 6:00-7:00 PM.
Exercise Class on Wednesdays at 10:30 AM. For men and women of all ages. Handicapped accessible.
Each Saturday - Men's Bible Study at 9:00 AM
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Do Not Judge
What do you think are some of the most well-known Bible passages in our society today? Of course, one would be John 3.16. Then there is the Twenty-third Psalm. A lot of people recognize the Lord’s Prayer. One that is often quoted in our culture is “Judge not lest you be judged.” A lot of people know this verse, but sadly they often take it out of context. It is true that we are not to judge, but what does that mean? Does it mean not to have any moral discernment or conviction, or is it simply saying not to be judgmental and hypocritical? Let’s see what Jesus had to say about not judging in Matthew 7.1-6.
First, let’s look at what Jesus was not saying. He was not saying to lay aside our moral judgment. We are not expected to suspend the critical faculties of our mind and to avoid discerning between good and evil. In this very chapter we read how Jesus expected us to be discerning and make judgments about people’s character (vv. 6, 15-16). Later in Matthew, Jesus tells us to be “shrewd as snakes” (10.16), and to not believe those who are false Messiahs (24.23). Throughout the New Testament, we are admonished to have discernment (John 7.24; 1 Cor 10.15; Heb 5.14). Being gullible is not a virtue. If we set aside our moral judgment, we’ll be in a lot of trouble. We will make ourselves vulnerable to all kinds of deception and error.
Jesus was also not saying to unconditionally accept any and all behavior in the church. We live in an age of excessive tolerance, an age of political correctness. The only sin today is to be intolerant. The worst thing you can do is disapprove of someone else’s behavior and call it sinful. Yet, Jesus was not preaching this type of tolerance. When he said, “Do not judge,” Jesus was not suggesting that we tolerate any behavior in the church and never confront those who are in sin or error. There is a standard in God’s church, and we are called to lovingly preach and uphold that biblical standard. The loving thing is not to ignore the sin of a friend or fellow Christian. Sin leads to destruction. The loving thing is to reach out in compassion and try to help them get victory over their sin (Gal 6.1).
Second, let’s look at what Jesus was saying. Jesus was telling us to avoid harsh judgment. The practice Jesus was denouncing was not moral discernment or sound judgment, but a harsh, critical spirit—a faultfinding attitude and outlook, i.e., judgmentalism. The person with this type of attitude attempts to stand in the place of God and pronounce sentence on others (“Don’t condemn others” in CEV). Just as there is need for a standard in God’s family, so also there is need for love and mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matt 5.7). We need to remember two important realities: 1) We are not the Judge (Rom 14.4; Jas 4.12), and 2) We too will be judged (Matt 7.1-2).
We are also to avoid hypocritical judgment (vv. 3-5). E. Stanley Jones once wrote, “The one who is hypercritical is usually hypocritical.” The reason the hypocrite’s sin is considered a “plank” while the other man’s sin is simply a “speck” is not because the hypocrite necessarily committed a greater sin than the other person. Rather, his sin is worse because of the hypocrisy attached to it. It is one thing to have sin in your life; it’s another thing to have sin in your life, ignore it, and then have the audacity to point out sin in someone else’s life. We are not to magnify other people’s shortcomings while ignoring our own. We need to first make sure our lives are right, and then we can lovingly help others who are struggling.
For more devotions by Pastor Mark, visit his blog at drmarkjackson.wordpress.com.