Summary: If there one passage that defines this culture, it is Matthew 7:1-5. Since the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage, this passage has been pushed to the forefront. This message examines what Jesus meant when he said, "Do not judge."
A Fractured Fairy Tale
When I was growing up, there was an older cartoon show that I enjoyed watching. It was the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. And while I thought the conflict between the heroes and the villains (Boris and Natasha) was funny what I found really clever was the transition segments the writers used between scenes. Do you remember “Fractured Fairy Tales”?
Fractured Fairy tales would be a short clip that would retell a famous fairy tale but with a twist. There would be something wrong in the retelling of the story. The new story would be slightly off from the original.
I share that illustration because if there is a passage of Scripture that captures the beliefs of today’s American culture, it is found in Matthew 7. And our culture has it summarized in three words -- “Do not judge.”
The recent SCOTUS ruling allowing gay marriages in all 50 states has brought this passage to the forefront of the discussion now more than ever. One can hardly read the newspaper editorials or go on Facebook without someone shouting out these three words. The irony is that some care very little for God’s word or God’s Kingdom yet they have suddenly become “enlightened theologians” and attempt to use these three words to shame Christians.
Don’t judge is the mantra. And Christians who don’t get on board are cast aside as judgmental hypocrites.
My point in this message is not to try and throw fire on the discussion of gay marriage. There is already too much bitter and closed dialogue on both sides of the issue. Instead, I want to talk about the passage that is used by pro LGBT'ers to try and shame us into being quiet about this cultural topic.
And I want to explore the question, “Is the world right in their interpretation of this passage? Or is what we are really seeing is just a fractured fairy tale?”
Goal: Our goal today is to define what Jesus meant when he said, “Do not Judge.”
In this passage, Jesus is preaching to an audience of Jewish people while they sit on a hillside in the region of Galilee. Thus, Matthew 5-7 gets the name, “The sermon on the Mount.” And in this passage, Jesus is addressing ideas of the Kingdom.
Several times, he says to his audience, “You have heard it taught this way, but I tell you it’s this way.”
He addresses topics such as anger, lust, materialism, service, and prayer - I’d encourage you to read it this week.
In Matthew 7:1 Jesus then addresses the idea of judgment. He says these words.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “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? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Church, the world knows this passage by the first three words -- “Do not judge.” And to most of them the text looks something like this. (I had a slide with the words “Do not judge" circled and the rest of the passage scribbled out).
The problem with reading it this way is that it voids context which is so important to interpreting meaning. Let me explain why that’s a problem in case we don’t’ understand.
Illustration of Importance of Context:
Have you ever walked into a conversation and heard a piece of it and thought “Whoa, I just walked in on an awkward part”? You missed context.
When we don’t hear or read context, we can improperly interpret what was said. In this case we could improperly define what Jesus intended to say when he said “Do not judge.”
So we need to explore context.
There are two important contexts we need to see in order to understand Scripture. There is historical context and immediate context.
Historical context is important in order to understanding the speaker or authors intended meaning. Let me illustrate that.
If you are below 18, I want you to tell me what these slang phrases from the 1950s mean. What are ankle biters? (Not small dogs, not biting insects) – Reference to young children. Try this one: That boy is a "bundie." He’s in need of a haircut.
The historical context is important to interpretation of a phrase. It’s the same with the Bible. In this passage, Jesus’ primary audience is Jewish listeners. They believe in the God to whom Jesus refers. Most of them also believe that by virtue of their Jewish heritage that they have it made – that God is on their side – that sin is only a problem for those who aren’t Jewish – the Gentiles. The most fundamental of the Jews, the sect known as Pharisees, even believed that some Jewish people were not savable. They believed that certain people were so badly stained that they were INCAPABLE of being redeemed. In other words, there is no way that God can remove their sins. Like a shirt with an ink stain on it, they threw them out like garbage.