Summary: How do we relate to people who are outside our church group? It is easy to judge and keep away - but Jesus calls us to a different attitude. We are to be those who keep building relationships no matter what.
What comes to mind when you look at these pictures?
(I showed pictures on power point of drug addicts, goths, pierced people, rich people etc)
Ok, keep whatever thoughts you have in mind and let’s read our Scripture passage this morning.
Read Matthew 7:1-12
That’s a crunch-time passage isn’t it.
Do not judge ... yet how many of us just made some sort of visual judgement?
Now as we sort out what we are supposed to do let’s make sure we understand what this passage is talking about.
When Jesus says, Do not judge, He is not saying, “Just be gullible”, or “Accept everything and don’t be discerning”. How do we know He isn’t saying that? Well later on He says Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not thrown your pearls to pigs. At the very least you will have to judge who is a dog and a pig ... don’t you.
When Jesus says, Do not judge, He has a specific context in mind. Earlier in the sermon Jesus says, your righteousness needs to surpass that of the Pharisees. The Pharisees loved to point and look down their long noses over their glasses and say “tut-tut” to anyone outside their group. Look at their sinful lives. See how hateful and wicked they are. What filthy habits they have. It is so great that we are so much more holy keep away from them.
Keep away from them – it is this attitude which Jesus dealing with.
Keep away from them they’re ... promiscuous.
Keep away from them they’re ... party goers.
Keep away from them they’re ... homosexuals.
Keep away from them they’re ... drug addicted.
Keep away from them they’re ... filthy rich.
Keep away from them they’re ... questionable.
Keep away from them they’re ... not like us.
The Pharisees and the Pharisaical attitude says, Keep Away. Jesus’ challenge against that is to get us to think about how we relate to those outside our group.
So that is the big issue here.
How do we relate to those outside our group?
Jesus makes four points to help us to answer this question.
Don’t be a bad optometrist.
Have you noticed how easy it is to have 20-20 vision when it comes to everyone else’s faults ... but when it comes to our own faults we are as blind as a bat.
I am just being firm in my views ... but you are being pig-headed.
I have reconsidered my position ... but you have gone back on your word.
I have trouble controlling my emotions ... but you have anger issues.
My character sometimes gets the better of me ... you are just plain evil.
We are like eagles aren’t we. We see the smallest movements and dive down to point them out. At the same time we have a truck-load of faults that we pretend don’t exist.
That is what it means to have a plank in your own eye, while trying to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t help people with the specks in their eyes – when you have a speck in your eye it hurts. People come up to you holding their eyes open, “I’ve got a speck can you see it?”
“It is right there it feels like a boulder”.
“Yea there it is. Let me help you”.
“Thanks ... now how about we do something about the plank in your eye”.
It’s at this moment you can choose to be the hypocrite ... seeing specks but ignoring planks.
That is the theory – let’s focus on a few practical examples.
We fall into this plank trap when we will not forgive someone who has done something to us.
When you point your finger at others and say things like:-
You’re a liar and a cheat.
You have hurt and abused.
You broke my heart and took advantage of me.
You went back on your promises.
When you point the finger – isn’t it true that three fingers are coming back to you. Isn’t it true that in a different circumstance you have done the same to others? If you can’t offer forgiveness do you have a right to forgive yourself? Take out the plank.
We fall into this plank trap when we are not kind to others.
I hate shopping queues – in fact I hate queues in general. When I get into a queue I always compare myself to the queue next to me. You know you match yourself with the person next to you and see who gets served first. It is a mind game.
You move forward ... you feel good.
You move forward again ... you have this in the bag.
Then all of the sudden your line stops – because the trainee has come back from morning tea. The other queue is flying past. So you need to take out your frustration.