Summary: How do we as Christians make judgments without being judgmental? Jesus continues to teach his disciples the way of the heart.
A few years ago, a church in Oklahoma expelled a woman for immorality. When she filed a lawsuit against the church, the story made all the national news media.
One of the shows to give the lawsuit coverage was Phil Donahue and on that show, I think the attitude of Donahue and most of the audience could be summed up in the words: "Judge not that you be not judged!"
2. Sadly, we live in a lifestyle that seems to say "You live your lifestyle and I’ll live mine. But don’t you tell me how to live, and certainly don’t you try to impose your standards of morality on me."
3. What was Jesus saying in Matthew 7?
I think one of the key verses in understanding our passage today is
Matthew 5:20: "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
All of SOM has taught this principle: We must have a different kind of righteousness from what the scribes and Pharisees had. They wore theirs on their sleeves; it was superficial righteousness based on status and human recognition.
Ours must grow out of a heart committed to the Father. And Matt. 7 is part of that context. In our text today, Jesus deals with two different extremes of the problem of human judgment.
The first extreme is a harsh, critical, condeming spirit.
The second extreme is permissiveness.
This morning, in trying to understand the concept of judgment, we take a look at both.
I. DON’T JUDGE (MATTHEW 7:1-2)
READ VERSES 1 & 2
In Luke 7.36, the story is told of Jesus at the house of Simon the Pharisee to have lunch. A sinful woman anointed his feet, Simon said, "if this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner" " (Luke 7:39). The Pharisees, in their self-righteous arrogance, had created a special class of people called "sinners," as if they themselves were not such.
The Pharisees were used to judging others self-righteously. Jesus said there are problems with that kind of judging. It’s overly critical, always going around with a nit-picking attitude, digging and searching for faults, always suspecting the worst.
A. Let’s Consider The Word "Judgment"
1. Now he’s not talking about the judgment in a courtroom. He’s not talking about judging open and obvious sin (we’ll get to that later). He’s not talking about judging false teachers.
What he is talking about is a hasty, unloving, "holier than thou" type of attitude. We sometimes call this "jumping to conclusions" of which we’ve all been guilty! It’s at the very heart of gossipping and rumor-bearing.
2. ILLUSTRATION: John Stott put it this way:
"Jesus does not tell us to cease to be men but to renounce the presumptuous ambition to be God (by setting ourselves up as judges)."
3. God once made the point that "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7). That’s why I don’t have the right to sit in judgment on someone else’s motives, because I don’t know what they are. Only the Lord knows all.