Judgment

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Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38).

Did you hear that? From the very lips of Jesus Himself – you shouldn’t judge! Instead you should be showing forgiveness and generosity. You should be accepting and loving of all lifestyles and choices. That’s what it means, doesn’t it?

These are familiar verses to Christians and the world. Many are quick to quote verses like “Judge not” if they feel morally attacked. However, not judging is not the same as acceptance. If we read a little further in the same passage we will see that is not what Jesus said at all.

In Luke 6 Jesus did not prohibit the judgment of others. He said, “the same measure we use will be measured back to us.” According to the Blue Letter Bible Commentary that means our judgment is to be fair and only done with a standard we would also like to have measured to us.

The commentary goes on to say often times the problem is not with our judgment but the exercise of judgment according to our own hypocritical standards. The wrongs we are quick to point out in others we hardly acknowledge or perhaps even notice in ourselves.

Three verses later Jesus asked, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?” Jesus knew we are more susceptible to or tolerant of our own sin than that of others. However, our hypocrisy is always evident to people even if not to ourselves. Therefore Jesus is not telling us to not judge.  Rather He is giving us warning in how we do so.

In fact, helping someone with a speck or sin is a good thing. After all, that is exactly what Jesus did. He saw the giant plank or sin in us and did something. He came to earth, made us aware of our sin and need for a Savior, and died so we could have life and see clearly.

However we cannot help others if we are trying to point out the same sin in someone else that dwells in us. The passage goes on to say, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch,” (Luke 6:39). Unless we have effectively dealt with our own sin we are like a blind person leading another blind person. We will lead them into a ditch and cause them more damage.

Therefore, according to Enduring World Bible Commentary, it’s clear some sort of assessment is not only important but necessary. As Christians we should not be seeking the counsel or guidance of others who are living in the same sin as us.

Instead we should be looking to those wiser than ourselves who see more clearly. Luke 6 also says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher,” (Luke 6:40). It is clear we will become like those we follow. Therefore, we must decide to listen to and follow good teachers – teachers like Jesus Himself and others who mirror His image.

Towards the very end of the passage Jesus instructs us how to judge for ourselves who is a good tree and who is not.  “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43-44).

If we do (put into practice) these things, we are “like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.” However if we don’t then we are “like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation…and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49).

Jesus sees us for what we were and still are – sinners, imperfect beings in desperate need of a Savior who cannot even perceive alone how gargantuan our planks are. Despite that, He loves us and at the same time does not accept our sinful ways.

In light of all this, we should be slow to judge and quick to look within our own hearts. We are called to love, show mercy and forgiveness while also practicing good discernment in our assessments of the world around us.

 

Delighted

Untitled design (6)“So many of us are afraid to come to church, afraid to pray or afraid to read the Scriptures because we believe God doesn’t want us. We believe that God is this almighty smiter…sitting on His cosmic throne, rubbing His hands together saying ‘Oh, here it comes! I’m going to get them!’ A lot of us live our everyday Christian lives that way and our Christianity is more trying to avoid God’s getting mad at us than our trying to live life in a loving relationship with God.”

– Josh Peterson

 

It seems ridiculous to think God does not want or like us. After all, He sent His son across the universe to die a slow, painful and brutal death so we “may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Notice the “have it to the full” part. That doesn’t mean just surviving on earth. It means thriving. Yet, God sent His Son knowing that wouldn’t be the reality for most people. In fact, He knew most people would reject Him. Still, He went to the greatest lengths to save the few who wouldn’t. You can’t honestly believe someone would do that for you but still not like you?

 

Sadly, that’s a common state of mind for many Christians and non-Christians alike. Maybe it has to do with a background where you weren’t so much delighted in as tolerated. There are a number of experiences that can easily shape the way you think God sees you…some positive, many more negative. Thankfully, when confronted with the truth of the gospel, there’s no room to question what God really thinks and feels about you. Oh yes, He does think about you – often and favorably (Psalm 139:16-18).

 

As we looked at John 8:1-11 on June 24, we heard about the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. According to the Jewish Law, anyone who commits this was to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). The Pharisees saw this woman’s sin as an opportunity to trap Jesus. If Jesus had agreed to stone her, He would have been going against the mercy, grace and forgiveness He was preaching. If His answer had been not to stone her, He would have been in direct violation of the Jewish Law. Either way, the Pharisees were not seeking justice and were exploiting this woman.

 

You might be thinking, “but she was an adulterer – caught in the act!  She’s obviously guilty, so who cares if the Pharisees exploited her? She deserved it!” That’s the messed-up thing about our view. Where most of us want to condemn others, even if what they did was truly vile, God wants to show mercy. Jesus said to the Pharisees and everyone there,

 

“ ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’…those who heard this began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left…Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you’ ” (John 8:7).

 

Isn’t it crazy the one person who has power and authority to condemn (defined as expressing complete disapproval and giving out punishment) took our condemnation for us? Yet we are afraid to pray, come to church and read the Bible because we think He doesn’t like us.  Nothing could be further from the truth! The real truth about being a Christian is God’s delight in you. That doesn’t mean we get a “sin whenever we want” card. It means we need to take Him on His word when He says He loves us and delights in us; and we should therefore trust Him when He tells us not to sin.

 

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”  (Zephaniah 3:17).