Summary: Jesus taught us to be discerning rather than judging.
INTRO.- Here is an Aesop’s Fable to help us with this subject.
ILL.- A Lion, unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by savvy or wit. He returned to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking care that his sickness should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to his den, where the Lion devoured them.
After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick and presenting himself to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked him how he was.
"I am very sick," replied the Lion, "but why do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk with me." "No, thank you," said the Fox. "I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but I see no trace of any returning." Smart fox. He was very discerning.
Now what’s the difference in judging something and being judgmental toward someone? Or the difference between judging and discerning?
ILL.- The Lone Ranger and Tonto stopped in the desert for the night. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep.
Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, "Kemo Sabe, look towards sky, what you see?"
The Lone Ranger replies, "I see millions of stars." "What that tell you?" asked Tonto. The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, "Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What’s it tell you, Tonto?"
Tonto is silent for a moment, then says, "Kemo Sabe, you are dumber than a box of rocks! It means someone stole tent."
That’s discernment! But when Tonto called the Lone Ranger “dumber than a box of rocks” that’s being judgmental.
ILL.- Suppose you come to a stoplight that just turned red and someone comes up from behind you and goes through that red light. A discerning person might think, “That was not too smart. That’s a good way to have an accident.”
The judgmental person might think and say, “That idiot! How stupid could he or she be? They’re going to get killed and go to hell!” That’s being highly judgmental!
We all need to be discerning in life without being judgmental but sometimes, it’s hard to separate the two.
PROP.- In our text, Jesus teaches about the importance of being discerning without being judgmental. Let’s consider:
1- discernment of self
2- discernment of evil
3- discernment of God
I. DISCERNMENT OF SELF
Matt. 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus is talking about being judgmental toward others. We’re talking about being harsh, critical, condemning, etc. Consider some areas, for example, where we should not judge one another.
1- We should not judge people’s motives. We can’t know why they do what they do. Only the Lord knows this.
ILL.- Take, for example, televangelist Benny Hinn. I am not a fan of his, but to say that Benny Hinn preaches only for money is going beyond discernment. We may think we know what’s in his heart, but only the Lord knows for sure.
2- We should not judge the service of another believer.
ILL.- We had a woman in one church where I served as minister that was always willing to sing a solo. I believe that her heart was in the right place, but it would have been easy for some to think, “Well, that was a lousy song. Why does she even bother to sing?” It’s easy to consider OUR service as being greater than someone else’s service and thereby put them down.
3- We should not judge outward appearances, because we all know that it is the heart that counts.
ILL.- Not too long ago I changed my hairstyle. In 1990, however, I started using gel on it, combing it straight backwards. I had it all slicked down. The first time one of my preacher friends in southern IL saw me with it like this, he said, “Jimmy Swaggart.” That should have been a clue right then to go back to the way I had it. My heart was just the same but my hair was different. And my hair didn’t make me into a Jimmy Swaggart no matter what people thought.