Summary: Big Idea: A forgiven person is a forgiving person, but a deceiving person is a deceived person.
Games People Play: “Clue”
Matthew 7:1-5, 15-23
INTRODUCTION: Doug Lansky has been a travel writer and photographer for many years. In the course of his travels he has collected photos of odd signs from around the world. Some samples:
ß A white highway sign in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, says, "Entrance Only / Do Not Enter."
ß A yellow diamond-shaped sign from Mill Valley, California, says, "Not a Through Street." Right below it is a blue circle with a white arrow pointing straight ahead and the words, "Evacuation Route."
ß And finally, a blue sign with white letters reads: "Pakistan-Narcotics Control Board Investigating Unit." But the sign is obscured a bit by the marijuana growing up in front of it.
These signs seem paradoxical, even contradictory. How do we make sense of them? Likewise, Jesus in Matthew 7 said some very strong things that, at first glance, don’t seem to fit together very well. In the first part of chapter 7 he warned his followers not to judge, then later he tells us how we should judge! This is an extremely important teaching that Jesus was passionate about, but how do we solve the puzzle? We need a Clue as to what is true. Let’s investigate this together—does Jesus want us to judge others or not?
[READ 7:1-5, 15-23]
The board game "Clue" is one of my favorites. [Explain game concept]. Players are required to assess carefully, but a wrong judgment will cost you the game. To win the game one has to make a correct judgment, carefully. And here Jesus gives us a Clue about how to win by correctly understanding people.
I. A FORGIVEN PERSON IS A FORGIVING PERSON (1-5)
A. I suppose no sentence in the Bible is more familiar, more misunderstood, and more misapplied than “Stop judging so you will not be judged.” It is likely the most quoted verse of the Bible by people who don’t believe the Bible. Part of the problem here is deciding what do we mean by “judging”?
1. In both Greek and English the word has a multitude of meanings.
2. “Judge” can imply “to analyze or evaluate” as well as “to condemn or avenge.”
a. The former senses are clearly commanded of believers, but the latter are reserved for God.
b. Even on those occasions when we render a negative evaluation of others, our purposes should be constructive, not retributive.
B. What Jesus meant by "judging" is the opposite of "forgiving." To judge means to condemn people rather than to forgive them. We must not have a spirit of condemnation toward other people, or a spirit of harsh criticism, a spirit that puts other people down. That kind of judgment often characterizes people in our society and in our churches, and it comes out of self-righteousness.
1. Thomas a Kempis: “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
2. D.L. Moody: “I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than any other man I know.”
C. APPLICATION: The reason we criticize people, the reason it is great sport to point out other people’s faults, is that by pulling others down we think we can build ourselves up.
1. If we point out someone else’s sickness, we think we can highlight our health.
2. If we point out another’s failures, we think we showcase our successes.
3. Harsh and vitriolic criticism that condemns and judges is the mark of a self-righteous person trying to gain a righteous reputation by delighting in the faults and flaws of other people.
But once we recognize our own poverty of spirit, once we recognize our own desperate need, once we truly hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, and once we cast ourselves with reckless abandon on God’s grace—then we will no longer condemn or judge. When Jesus says, “stop judging or you too will be judged,” he meant that a person who manifests a judgmental, condemning spirit is a person who doesn’t know God at all, but who still stands under God’s judgment. A forgiven person is a forgiving person.
D. Jesus pictured a person with a tiny speck of sawdust in his eye, which of course can hurt and irritate. Then along came an ophthalmologist to remove the speck, but a telephone pole sticks out of his eye! It’s an absurd scenario, almost comic. But in life itself it comes close to reality.
1. ILLUSTRATION: My 5 year old son Taylor often corrects the pronunciation of his younger brother Jamison. Taylor told me: “We need to help him learn how to talk. He says ’goded,’ instead of ’goed’ (went).”
2. APPLICATION: We need to let God show us our own blind spots, our logs
3. But v.5 makes clear that vv.3-4 do not absolve us of responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather, once we have dealt with our own sins, we are then in a position to gently and lovingly confront and try to restore others who have erred. Jesus did not contend that sin in other people’s lives was unimportant. He simply pointed out the absurdity of concerning ourselves with others’ specks without paying attention to our own logs.