Summary: In this lesson we learn that because of seven exhortations given by Jesus, Christians must not be judgmental.
Jesus opened his “Sermon on the Plain” with a description of the blessings that belong to those who have entered the kingdom of God, and a warning to those who have not yet entered the kingdom of God.
Then Jesus described how his disciples are to live as citizens of the kingdom of God. The first thing Jesus said to his disciples is that they are to love their enemies. Then Jesus said that his disciples must not judge others.
Let’s read about judging others in Luke 6:37-42:
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:37-42)
While driving in my car this week, I heard a story on the radio about a note a waiter had received from a couple he had served at a Carrabba’s Restaurant in Overland Park, KS. He had provided exemplary service to the couple, whom the talk show host described as Christians. The talk show host also said that the waiter was a homosexual. The following note to the waiter was written on the back of their check:
Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. (Homosexual slur) do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your (homosexual slur) choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for (homosexual slur). May GOD have mercy on you.
I was not in my car for long, but I did hear several listeners call in and talk about the story with the talk show host. The common theme of their calls was that God loves everyone and that Christians should not judge. I did not listen long enough, but it would not have surprised me if someone quoted Jesus from today’s text, “Judge not” (Luke 6:37a).
So, how should we as Christians think about this story? What did Jesus mean when he said to his disciples, “Judge not”?
In today’s lesson, we learn that because of seven exhortations given, Christians must not be judgmental.
I. Do Not Judge, And You Will Not Be Judged (6:37a)
The first exhortation is: do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Jesus said in verse 37a, “Judge not, and you will not be judged.”
Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, formerly pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA and currently the President of Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL said that this “is one of the few Bible verses that non-Christians still seem to know.” If you say anything that hints at being critical, a non-Christian may quickly respond with, “Do not judge!”
Nobody likes to be judged. People generally set their own rules and don’t like it when others point out their infractions. And so this is a favorite verse to quote so that others will leave them alone.
So, the question is: what did Jesus mean when he said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged”? Does Jesus mean that judgments should never be made?
Well, as soon as I put the question that way, most reasonable people will back off and acknowledge that some judgments must be made. But when? And how?
We need to acknowledge that there is a legitimate place for judging others. For example, Jesus is not ruling out the legitimate place of judging others in the civil arena or church courts. Judges must render verdicts in courts of law, elders must decide discipline cases in the church, managers must judge their employees’ performance, teachers must assess their students, and so on. Later in this very sermon, Jesus himself calls his disciples to judge people by their fruit (6:43-45).