Sun, Aug 12, 2001

TO JUDGE OR NOT TO? MATTHEW 7:1-5

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
TO JUDGE OR NOT TO?
MATTHEW 7:1-5
 

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 7 as we look at the issue: To judge or not to judge! And as you are turning there, listen to this story that will illustrate for us what we will be studying this morning. The story goes like this:

Several years ago a Santa Fe train was speeding through Oklahoma. In one of the coaches sat a young woman desperately trying to take care of a restless baby, whose crying was evidently annoying some of the passengers.

Across the aisle sat a stout fellow, a picture of comfort and rich living. He glowered over at the woman and shouted: "Can’t you keep that child quiet?" On taking a further look at the young lady, he noticed that her dress was one of mourning.

Then he heard her say gently: "I cannot help it. The child is not mine. I am doing my best."

"Where is its mother?" asked the portly passenger.

"In her coffin, sir," answered the young lady, "In the baggage car up ahead."

The steely eyes of that fat fellow filled with tears. He got up, took the babe in his arms, kissed it, and then walked up and down the aisle with the child, trying his best to soothe the motherless little one and make up for his harshness.

- Selected

There are many misconceptions regarding judging that then leads to a misuse of what the Scriptures say. We are going to see that it is a matter of the heart, and where your heart is at will bring into action the way you judge people. With that said, let’s read the portion of Scripture we will be studying this morning, and then we will expound on it, bring to light what God desires of us in this area of judging. So let’s begin reading in Matthew chapter 7, starting in verse 1, and see what the Lord has for us this morning.

MATTHEW 7:1-5

Now as some read through this they come to the conclusion that we are not to judge. And if we do dare to go down this dangerous path of judgment, we are going to be judged the same way we judge others. Thus, we are not to judge, but just let people do as they please and let God sort things out in the end! Obviously that is a wrong and unbiblical conclusion, the wrong view of judging.

Most people that hold that view are trying to hide something or continuing doing what they want, even though it goes against what God has said in His Word. "Judge not, brother!" is what they tend to say. And yet, if you continue reading on in Matthew chapter 7, Jesus warns us not to cast our pearls before the swine, or the truths of God to those who continuously trample it under foot. To do that you have to make some kind of judgment about them!

Farther on it talks about the narrow road that leads to life and the broad way that leads to destruction. Again, you must make some kind of judgment in deciding which path to go on. Jesus also talks about false prophets and that we must not listen to them, and to do that some kind of judgment about what they are teaching must be made! So, the obvious conclusion is this, we must be making some kind of judgment of things we see people do, the things we hear people say!

There are three areas that I would like to cover in regards to judging. The first is: WHAT ARE WE TO JUDGE? The second one we will be looking at is: THE WRONG WAY TO JUDGE! And lastly, we will be looking at: THE PROPER WAY TO JUDGE! And if we apply these lessons to our lives, this can be a very beneficial tool that you can use with people to help them in their relationship with God.

1. WHAT ARE WE TO JUDGE?

The Greek word that Jesus uses here for "judge" is KRINO, and it means "to judge to the place of condemnation." And what Jesus said we are not to do, is what most people do. They come against people, condemning them for their actions, for what they say, and that is wrong!

We are going to look at that a little closer in a few minutes, but let me say this. What we are to judge is for identification and restoration, not condemnation! Why? Because it is the Lord who will judge that way, and not us! Paul tells us in II Timothy 4:1, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom."

You see, for those who know Him as Lord and Savior, they will enter into eternity with Him. For those who don’t know Him as Lord and Savior, they will enter eternity apart from Him in the Lake of Fire. Condemnation has come upon them because they have rejected the Lord. But, it is the Lord who is the Righteous Judge, not us. May we not forget that. We are not to judge towards condemnation!

One last point before we move on. In James 4:11-12 we are told, "Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?" You see, that is evil judgment because it sets man as God, and man is not God, there is only one true God and only one true Judge!

Then what are we to judge, not for condemnation, but for identification with the hope of restoration? Here are just a few things that we are to judge:

A. DIVISIVE PEOPLE

Paul, in Romans 16:17-18 said "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." You are to judge what people are doing in the sense that if they are causing divisions, drawing people to themselves, their own doctrine, you are to avoid them, not listen to their destructive doctrine. It doesn’t mean that you are not to try and restore them, but you are not to let them continue in the fellowship causing division within the body.

B. DIFFERENT GOSPEL

Paul, in Galatians 1:8-9 says "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Notice, if people are bringing another Gospel, one contrary to the Word of God, you are to judge them, expose them for their error. And Paul is not judging them eternally, but it is the Word of God that is judging them for their false doctrine!

C. SINFUL LIVING

Paul, in I Corinthians 5:1 said, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles-- that a man has his father's wife!" Paul is rebuking the church at Corinth for not dealing with this sin. You see, sinful living needs to be exposed, with the hope of restoration, which does happen with this man in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church. He is restored!

D. DEALING WITH A SINNING BROTHER OR SISTER

Listen to the correct way of dealing with someone who is living in sin. In Matthew 18:15-17 we are told, "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector." Church discipline is not easy, but it is done with the hope of restoration, not destruction. Yes, you can’t ignore sin in the church, it needs to be dealt with, but in the correct manner. Most of the time it becomes gossip and is not dealt with on a one to one basis at first. And if they refuse, take a couple of mature Christians with you and if they still refuse, then take it to the elders of the church, and if they still refuse to listen, then they must leave the church until the get right with God. Not easy, but the hope again is restoration!

Now the problem comes, in most cases, how we confront people, how we judge them. And we are going to look at that next, the wrong way to judge.

2. THE WRONG WAY TO JUDGE!

Jesus uses the illustration of a person having a speck in their eye, and you have a telephone pole in yours. And thus, you go to correct someone else’s speck while you are carrying around with you this huge telephone pole. And obviously, something is seriously wrong with that picture!

Please understand that this is not speaking of some huge, gross sin that you have in your life, and you are picking out some minor issue in someone else’s life! Sin is sin, and it does need to be dealt with. What I see here is this is the sin of self-righteousness that causes a blindness in our own life to the point where we can’t see clearly. You see, if you have a telephone pole sticking out of your eye, it would be very difficult to see, wouldn’t it?

And understand that this is what happens when a person becomes self-righteous, they begin to look down at others, they see themselves as better than others. Then their heart becomes hard and cold towards people. And if that is the case, you will be condemning them instead of restoring them. And what happens is we develop a judgmental spirit, everyone else is wrong, they alone are right, no one loves God like they do, everyone else is compromising their faith, but not them!

Listen to this example that Jesus gave us on this subject. In Luke 18:9-14 we read, "Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men-- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Self-righteousness is ugly and God does not honor it, but He does judge it.

You see, that self-righteous attitude will cause a persons heart to grow hard and cold, which then leads them to have a judgmental spirit, which leads them down a path of legalism! There is this law and that law, and this thing and that thing, and you can do this and you can’t do that, and their lists grows on what people are to do and not to do, with the idea of making themselves better than others because they don’t wear make-up, or their hair is short, or the music they like, and-so-on. And do you see what happens, they do become judge instead of God! And please don’t misunderstand me, we do have to judge, but not with the idea of condemnation, but restoration. If we are not interested in restoration, we will judge with condemnation, and then we are playing God! The result of that kind of attitude?

Remember the story of Adoni-Bezek, a king of the Canaanites, found in Judges chapter 1. As the children of Israel fought against the Canaanites, they captured this king, and in Judges 1:6-7 we are told, "Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. And Adoni-Bezek said, ‘Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.’ Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died."

Kind of a strange story, but I think it speaks of what Jesus was saying here in Matthew chapter 7, that if you cut up somebody with your words, if you chop them up, the way you have judged them will be how you will be judged! You see, it truly is a matter of the heart. Before you go to deal with another, make sure your heart is right!

David, in Psalm 51:10-13, said these things after he repented of his sin with Bathsheba,"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You."

David’s point is this. Before he could be used by God, before he could minister to others, he needed to get his heart right before God. If he didn’t, then his actions will come from a heart of flesh instead of the Spirit of God. We have all been there before, someone does something that needs to be confronted, and our heart is not right, and we bite their heads off! It is ugly, it is unfruitful, and it is wrong!

When we confront people we do so with the idea of restoration not condemnation. I know what you are saying, "Joe, how many times do you need to repeat that?" We need to hear it often to have it sink into our minds and deep down into our hearts! It is that important. As I close this section on the wrong way to judge, let me leave you with these words from Jon Courson. He said "I do not believe I have the right to point out somebody’s dirty feet unless I’m willing to get down and wash them."

Do not have a self-righteous attitude where you are looking down on others, judging their heart, judging their motives, seeing yourself better than they are. Do not become hypercritical of everyone! There is only one Judge and that is God! We are fruit inspectors or we are to judge for identification with the hope of restoration, and we will be looking at that next. And let me say this, if you are not willing to restore a person, then you are probably condemning them, and that is wrong! It is not a gift of the Holy Spirit, but a work of the flesh!

3. THE PROPER WAY TO JUDGE!

The proper way to judge, as I have said, is for identification with hopes of restoration! Before you confront anyone, do a heart check. Get the telephone pole out of your eye. See what your motivation is for doing it. Are you doing it to put someone down or raise someone up? Are you doing it to show you were right or to give them the touch of Jesus, the Righteous? Are you doing it to show how spiritual you are or are you doing it because you care about someone else’s spiritual condition? You see, if you go to them putting on a act, you will be seen for what you are, a HYPOCRITE! You put on your make-up, your acting classes are over, and as you go to minister, they see right through your emptiness, your falsehood, your lack of love for them. Thus, deal with those issues of the heart before you go out and minister to others! You need to be real, you need to have the love of Jesus in you before you go out to minister to others. Thus, bring it all before God, and let Him expose in your heart that which needs to be exposed, so then you can go out and minister to others in the love of Christ!

Paul, in Galatians 6:1-5 said, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load."

This is what it is all about folks, bearing one another’s burdens! And Paul starts out by speaking of a person who is overtaken by sin. And the question is, "How do we respond to this person?" The Pharisee wants to condemn, put down. But that is not what Paul tells us we as Christians are to do.

Paul says we are to "restore" them. The Greek word is KATARTIZETE, and it speaks of setting a broken bone or mending a fishing net! That my friends takes special care, you just don’t go in their haphazardly! Ben broke his leg a few weeks ago, and I can guarantee you this, he did not want some uncompassionate doctor to come in and just grab that leg, twist it around, try and pull it back in alignment with no concern for the pain that Ben was going through! When we minister to others, we must do so with compassion, love, the concern for the pain they may be going through. Thus, this kind of care is for those who are spiritual, those who are mature in the faith, who are Spirit lead! That does not mean you need to be a Christian for 20 years before you can minister to someone. All it means is you have to be lead by the Spirit, for the flesh will just mess things up! We are to restore people gently!

And Paul’s point is that we too can fall into sin, none of us are immune to it, and we would like the same love and gentleness extended to us if we do slip!

There is a spiritual battle out there and sometimes the temptations are heavy, things are oppressive, and we must come alongside each other to help lift each other up, to help each other through these times, and as we do we are fulfilling the law of Christ, the principle of love! It is as Jesus said in John 13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Paul goes on to say that we need to be careful that in the work we don’t let pride grow, thinking we are better than another. We need to bring our heart before God daily, have it examined and we can rejoice not in what we have done, but what God has done through us!

And in verse 5 of Galatians chapter 6, it is not speaking of a heavy load that we share with others, but a pack that is usually carried by a marching soldier. There are certain responsibilities that we are responsible for and we should be able to handle ourselves. But those heavy burdens, let us bear each others and restore those who have fallen, restore them in love!

Do you see how judging for identification and restoration can be a beautiful thing! It helps keep the body of Christ healthy and strong. No one is looking out for just his own personal interests, but for the interests of others, for the welfare of others! Are you willing to get down and wash the feet of others or are you just wanting to expose their dirty feet? Jesus wants us to wash their feet, loving them as He loves us - UNCONDITIONALLY!

As I close this morning, may you have a proper perspective of what we are to judge and how we are to judge. May our hearts be right before we step out to minister to someone. And let me say this, you can tell where your heart is at by what comes flowing from your lips. Is it the fruit of the Spirit - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Galatians 5:22-25. Or is it the works of the flesh -"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21. There is a stark contrast between the two, and you can easily tell what is guiding you, the Spirit or the flesh, by what comes out of your mouth, the things that you do. If you are having trouble seeing this morning, come before God and ask Him to remove that telephone pole from your eye so you can see more clearly, and you can minister to those in need as Christ would!

Let me leave you with these words:

Don’t Judge Too Hard

Pray don’t find fault with a man who limps

Or stumbles along the road,

Unless you have worn the shoes he wears

Or struggles beneath his load.

There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt,

Though hidden away from view,

Or the burden he bears, placed on your back,

Might cause you to stumble, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today,

Unless you have felt the blow

That caused his fall, or felt the shame

That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows

That were his, if dealt to you

In the self same way at the self same time,

Might cause you to stagger, too.

Don’t be too harsh with a man who sins,

Or pelt him with words or stones,

Unless you are sure, yea, doubly sure,

That you have no sins of your own.

For you know, perhaps, if the tempter’s voice

Should whisper as soft to you

As it did to him when he went astray

"Twould cause you to falter, too."

- Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, 2840

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