Summary: A sermon about not judging others through the mercy of Christ.
Have you ever made a judgement about someone without really knowing what was in their heart or mind?
Or perhaps, you had heard other people say negative things about a certain someone.
And so, you formed negative thoughts about that person.
And when you met them, you didn’t trust their motives.
But later on, Lord willing you had come to know the person, and found that your judgments were completely off base?
I think that is just one of the many reasons Jesus warns us not to judge.
But I’ll tell you, of all the teachings of Jesus, this one ranks right up there, perhaps, in the top 10 or so of the hardest commands.
If you are like me you are making judgments all the time.
For example, I read somewhere where a person wrote about a universal rule of the road.
It goes like this:
“Everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot.
And everyone who drives faster than you is a maniac.
To the speeding driver, everyone’s an idiot.
To the slow driver, everyone’s a maniac.
But one rule applies to all: My speed is always just right.”
We do have a tendency to overlook our own sins but judge others, do we not?
A high school Senior was filling out a questionnaire to help determine roommate compatibility.
By the questions: “Do you make your bed regularly?” and “Do you consider yourself a neat person?” he checked the box marked “Yes.”
His mother read his answers and, knowing they were far from the truth, asked why he had lied.
“I don’t want to have them stick me with a slob,” was his reply.
We are all prone to excuse our own faults and magnify the faults of others.
For instance, if someone else is late for an appointment with us we might think, “How inconsiderate! Doesn’t that person know that I am busy?”
But if we are late for an appointment, we might think, “That person will just have to realize that I am a busy person. I couldn’t help being late.”
Or if we are in a hurry, we might ride the tail of the person in front of us, muttering, “Step on it! I don’t have all day!”
But if someone is riding our tail, we might say: “Back off! What’s the big rush. I can’t stand tale-gators.”
Jesus knows our tendency to justify ourselves and blame others.
One person has said, “It feels good to judge those who deserve it…
…The pedestal—of my own construction—on which I usually stand grows taller when I can look down on someone else who is obviously not measuring up.”
Have you ever felt that way?
Is this something you can relate to?
I think many, if not most of us can.
Our Gospel Lesson for this morning follows immediately on the tail of Jesus’ teaching about loving our enemies.
And that teaching ends with Jesus saying to us: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
And so, I think what God is calling us to this morning is to focus a bit on introspection or self-examination.
“Do not judge,” Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?...
…You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Now there can be no doubt Jesus is using a very vivid word sketch here, and it’s meant to be funny.
Try reading it like that, and you’ll see a dry humor coming through.
I mean, can you image a person walking around with a plank in their eye?
It’s kind of like a cartoon.
Someone with a plank in their own eye is trying to take the little speck of sawdust out of someone else’ eye.
Jesus uses quite a bit of humor in His teaching, if we look for it.
But what this little scene has to say to us is very important.
Jesus intended for us to remember it, and so He made it a bit outlandish, funny.
Have you ever found yourself judging someone else for doing the exact same behavior that you do yourself?
Or have you ever found yourself judging other people, talking bad behind their backs, thinking bad thoughts about them, wishing them ill?
If so, does that bother you?
Do you wish you didn’t do this?
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” Jesus tells us in verse 36 of Luke Chapter 6.
But this is hard.
It is basically impossible to be “merciful, just as” God has been merciful to us.
But what a goal.
What a mission.
What a journey.