Summary: To avoid unrighteous judgment: 1) Be merciful, 2) Be humble, 3) Be helpful.
Healthy Disciples: A LIFE OF GRACE—Matthew 7:1-6
***(before you read the text) What quotations from the Bible are you most likely to hear from non-Christians?...There is one in our text today.**
Read Matthew 7:1-6.
“Do not judge…” No one likes to be judged—for their appearance, their taste in clothes, their hair or tattoos. No one likes to be judged for making a mistake in the game, or for their driving.
***The first time I drove a borrowed van with lane change notification, I was annoyed to hear beeping when I strayed over the lane marker. It was like having another side-seat driver. One is enough!**
“Do not judge.” People have latched onto that, even when their behavior is stupid, destructive, or contrary to God’s law. They says, “Don’t judge me,” “Just chill, will you?” or even, “You have no right to tell me what is wrong.”
Unfortunately, the result may be that people are afraid to speak truth that needs to be heard.
It’s easy not to judge if you don’t care! If you don’t care about football, you don’t judge a player who makes a bonehead play. If you don’t care about fashion, you won’t judge people for what they wear.
If you don’t care about people, you will only judge them if they cut you off in traffic, or leave their dog’s poop on your yard.
If you don’t care about what is right, fair, healthy, or good, it is easy not to judge.
Certainly Jesus wasn’t telling his disciple not to care!
Yes, Jesus said, “Do not judge…,” but he didn’t mean what some people think.
We should care about right and wrong, and judge (or discern) between the two. Jesus said in John 7:24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." Righteous judgment is valuable.
We should exercise good judgment about people, to protect us from harm. In John 2:24, we read, “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.”
***One of my friends teaches a class on life skills to people who are getting their lives back on track. One of the key sessions talks about 3 groups of people: people who are good for you, people you should avoid at all costs because they are a bad influence, and people such as relatives whom you must handle with caution. Judgment is key to health.**
We should lovingly speak the truth to people we care about. Jesus said in Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.”
If those kinds of judgment are necessary and good, what did Jesus mean when he said, “Do not judge”?
We have no right to put ourselves over someone else, as if we were God. In Romans 14:10-13, Paul says, “Why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat…Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.”
Judging with contempt or without love is wrong.
HOW DO WE AVOID UNRIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT?
***A woman sits down with a street artist for a portrait. After a few minutes, he shows her the portrait, and she says, “I don’t like it. It doesn’t do me justice.” The artist replies, “Lady, you don’t want justice; you want mercy.”**
We all need mercy! Jesus warns us, (Matthew 7:2) “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
From experience, we know that other people are likely to treat us like we treat them. Yet Jesus is pointing to God’s judgment as well, as in verse 1 he said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
The opposite is true in God’s mercy, however. James 2:13 says that although “Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful, [God’s] mercy triumphs over judgment.” Thank God for that!
How can we be merciful?
First, try to understand the other person. You wouldn’t judge a man for not listening, if you discovered that he was deaf. Yet maybe the person with a temper problem has a life history that is just as debilitating. Maybe the person who can’t handle money was never taught, and needs structure. Maybe your wife or husband doesn’t know what you need and want, because it doesn’t make sense to them.
If truth needs to be spoken, do it in a loving way. Think about how it will be heard, not just how you say it.
Hard truth spoke lovingly is usually spoken privately. Jesus said in Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”