Summary: Second in mini-series on judging. This message, based on John 7:24 discusses how to make "right" judgments and how to communicate them to the world.
Should We Judge? "Absolutely, Positively."
July 17, 2005
Last week, on our walk through the gospel of Matthew, we looked at the words of Jesus in chapter 7, verses 1-5 where Jesus says that we are not to judge, and that we need to be careful about cleaning up our own lives before we presume to be in a position to clean up the lives of others.
But we also discussed the fact that this passage is not saying to never judge, only that a harsh, critical, and condemning attitude is what Jesus was addressing, because later in John, Jesus says the words that form the basis of our message today, from chapter 7, verse 24 -
"Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."
Please allow me to very quickly review what we covered last week, as I think this will give us a little context for my comments today.
First, I said that not all judging is bad, and that’s kind of where we’re going today as we look at what is involved in "good" judging. We are commanded in Scripture to be people of good judgment, and to carefully discern right from wrong. And yes, this includes evaluating the lifestyles of individuals at times, because there are lifestyles that are prevalent in our society today that are sinful.
As I said last week, many times we’re not the ones doing the judging - it’s God. He has pronounced things to be good or bad. We’re simply communicating that.
Second, people judge all the time, whether they recognize it or not, or whether they admit it or not. When someone says they are "not judgmental," in reality it means that they have judged something to be okay, even if others don’t. They are just as judgmental as everyone else.
Third, I said that judging does not need to be harsh. When we think about making judgments, we are many times confronted with the idea that judging and discussing our judgments needs to be done in a harsh, angry manner. But, while we need to be firm, we do not need to be mean or harsh. Jesus was harsh not with the sinners, but with the religious people.
In discussing judging, Jesus said that the measure we use to judge others will be used to judge us. And therefore, we need to make sure we’re using the right measure, which is the never-changing word of God, as opposed to the always changing whims and opinions of society, because truth is not determined by majority opinion.
And lastly, we looked at the fact that judging others while being blind to your own sins and shortcomings is hypocritical, the very thing Jesus condemns in the passage about judging. If you condemn Enron executives for stealing from their company, yet are a gossip and a backbiter, you are in sin, and are the type of person Jesus was addressing in Matthew 7.
We make judgments all the time. We judge food, clothes, hair, TV shows, cars, and all sorts of stuff. We make judgments about events and issues, and everybody does it.
And you know what? We should. We should absolutely make judgments, or at least pronounce the judgments of Scripture.
But I want us to get past the negative connotations of the whole concept of judging.
Did you know that making judgments and talking about them can be done in a positive manner? It’s true! And that’s the point of the message, and the title, "Should We Judge? Absolutely, Positively."
Why am I talking about this? Because I want the church of Jesus Christ to be seen, not as some institution filled with a bunch of religious hypocrites who have nothing better to do than criticize and rant, but as a body of people whose love for Christ and his word equip us to impact our world for Jesus in a positive manner.
So to that end, let’s take a look at what Jesus says about judging by focusing on the two phrases that make up our verse for today.
In this verse, we find two very distinct instructions that we would do well to take to heart, and the first one is...
"Stop judging by mere appearances..."
You know, I make fun of myself and my appearance sometimes, and I make note of the fact that I’m more likely to be compared to Patrick Stewart, the Captain from Star Trek: The Next Generation, than to be compared to say, Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt.
Actually, I’m kind of a fan of Hector Elizondo, the bodyguard/chauffeur from The Princess Diaries. He’s gotta be the coolest bald guy in the movies right now...
My point here is that at first glance I don’t think I make that much of an impression. And if people were to judge me based merely on my appearance, they won’t get an accurate picture of who I am and what I’m all about.