Summary: Christ instructs his disciples to pay more attention to their own faults than the faults of others.
To Judge or Not To Judge
February 15/16, 2003
MAIN IDEA: Christ instructs his disciple to pay more attention to their own faults than the faults of others.
Listeners will be instructed on the appropriate and inappropriate times to judge others according to the Bible.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER:
Illustration: Guilty as sin! It happened just a few years ago. The banks in New Jersey had been robbed systematically, one after the other. What made the robber stand out was his politeness. He just gave the tellers a note which said, "Please place your money in this bag. Thank you." The newspapers called him the GENTLEMAN BANDIT.
The widespread publicity led to a very unlikely arrest - the suspect was a Catholic priest. His church was appalled but stood beside him, saying they knew he could not be the bandit. They signed petitions, held protest marches and came up with his bail. But the police were certain they had their man. All of the eyewitnesses positively identified him. And the news media dug into his past, to find that in a previous church he had left under a cloud because of financial irregularities in the parish. For a priest he had a pretty expensive lifestyle - his own apartment and a fast car. His church was probably standing up for him because otherwise they looked like dupes.
As people across the country watched the story unfold on the news, they were positive this priest had pulled a fast one. He probably had a sociopath personality so he could rob banks and preach the next Sunday without feeling any guilt. No one outside his congregation was standing up for this guy. But then a funny thing happened. The REAL Gentleman Bandit was caught red-handed. As it turned out, he was the spitting image of the priest. It’s just that he WASN’T the priest. The priest was released, his church threw him a big party, and the news media and those who had prematurely judged him felt a little sheepish.
Source: Rev. David Holwick First Baptist Church Ledgewood, New Jersey
Unfortunately, that true story is all too common. Without knowing all the facts, we all make judgments about people all the time. And - really unfortunately - such judgments are all too common in the church.
And for right or wrong the Christian church has a bad reputation as a bunch of judgmental hypocrites. I’ve had too many conversations with people who have been hurt by the church because of the unfair judgments and condemnation they have felt. And there are way too many people out there who have vowed to never set foot in a church because they don’t want the first thing to do with such a group.
And this is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy Jesus spoke up about in Luke chapter 6:37-42.
37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
39He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
41"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? 42How can you say to your brother, ’Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I’d say that this passage of scripture, more than just about any other, is familiar to unbelievers. And it is used by all sorts of people who accuse Christians of being wrongly judgmental. “How dare you say my actions, my lifestyle, my choices are sinful? Didn’t Jesus say ‘do not judge’?”
How do we respond? Is this teaching of Jesus really meant to keep us from saying anything is right or wrong? Should we join our culture in buying into the new definition of “tolerance” which means accepting all opinions, thoughts, actions as equally valid?
NO! But if we’re to know when it is appropriate to judge and when it is not we will have to lift our focus from just this passage to see the bigger picture of the New Testament’s teaching on this subject. Only then will we be able to confidently apply Jesus’ teaching correctly.