To Judge or Not to Judge by Pastor Abidan Shah

TO JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: This morning we are back in our series on the Sermon on the Mount and the message is titled “TO JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE.”

tojudgeornottojudgeMatthew 7   1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Bridge: Last week I came across this quote – “Before you start to judge me, step into my shoes and walk the life I’m living and if you get as far as I am, just maybe you will see how strong I really am.” On one hand, the quote is very inspiring. “You can’t judge me unless you understand what I’ve been through and when you understand what I’ve been through, you’ll see why I am the way I am. And, I am tough.” But, on the second and third reading, that quote has some troubling implications. It seems to be saying – “There is no right or wrong. I am the way I am because of what I’ve been through. You can’t tell me how to live my life. Life has made me tough enough to do whatever I want.” Sadly and frighteningly, this is how most people think today, even Christians. Some form of this quote has been thrown in my face many a times. Should we judge or should we not?

Context: In the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus gives us the proper balance between when to judge and when not to. Unfortunately, this passage is often invoked to forbid all judgment. Ever heard someone say – “Don’t be judging nobody because Jesus told us to get the log out of your own eye first.” That’s not true. Yes, Jesus did warn us to judge ourselves first but He never told us to stop judging completely. In fact, in verse 5, Jesus called someone a “Hypocrite!” That’s a judgment. The point is that we are to confront sin but with the right motives, to help and not to condemn the person.

Question: First things first – Have you examined yourself lately? Is there sin in your life? Have you repented? Do you confront others about their sins? Do you do it with the right motives? Are you saved? You can judge or not judge but there is a day of judgment coming for all of us. Will you able to stand before the Judge of all the earth?

3 conditions regarding when to judge and when not to:

I. IF YOU CAN’T TAKE IT, DON’T DISH IT.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.

Background: What Jesus is saying here is a general truth – “Don’t try to criticize and condemn somebody if you’re not able to take it.” Have you heard someone say about a person – “He can dish it but he can’t take it”? What are they saying – “When the tables are turned, this person does not like it.” What Jesus is saying here is – “When you judge someone, you are entering the judgment zone where you are under the spotlight as well. If you don’t want the spotlight on you, don’t turn the spotlight on someone else.”

What happens many times is that some of us are better at covering our faults, at making our case, at bullying the other person, and at cornering them. Maybe it’s our personality or maybe we have seen one too many Matlocks. Maybe the other person is not as adept at defending himself or herself and they back off and you win. By the way, Christians – if all else fails, get spiritual. Start quoting the bible. Even make up some stuff. The other person doesn’t know. After all, what matters is that they are condemned and you are safe. You win and they lose. It happens a lot in marriages and churches. Jesus anticipated this and so he adds in verse 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Meaning: You may win against your helpless weak opponent but someone else has entered the courtroom and it’s God. He sees you through and through. You can’t outsmart Him. He will turn your own arguments over your head. He will treat you the same way you are treating others.

Illustration: On the last day of camp, the kids are allowed to have a shaving cream fight. They have to be hosed off before they can jump into the creek or the pool. It’s funny how kids tattle. Kid – “He still has some cream in his hair.” Counselor – “Where are you going?” Kid – “Into the pool.” Counselor – “You also have shampoo in your hair.”

woman-caught-in-adulteryJesus demonstrated this in John 8 when the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. What was their question? 4 Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” They were not only judging the woman but also Jesus! Jesus ignored them but they persisted. Finally, He stood up and said to them, 7 “…He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” The Bible says they “being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. The point is this – “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it.” One day you will have to stand before the judge of all the earth. James 4   11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren…12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Application: Are you that person who can dish it but can’t take it? Who have you been trying to bully? Who have you been trying to corner? Do you realize that one day you’ll have to give an account to that Great Judge?

II. IF YOU HAVEN’T LOOKED IN THE MIRROR, DO THAT FIRST.

3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

Background: Of course, Jesus is using hyperbole, exaggeration to make a point. It’s a form of humor – “You are so concerned about the tiny speck of dirt in your brother’s eye but you cannot see the telephone pole sticking out of your eye!” What Jesus is saying here is “If you haven’t looked in the mirror, do that first.” What happens many times is that some of us have been so focused on the faults and weaknesses of others that we have failed to examine our own faults and weaknesses. We see the lives of others in black and white and ours in color. As someone once said – “We judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their behavior.” They did this, this, and this wrong but I did this for this reason, this for that reason, and this for the other reason.

Now people have used this passage to claim that you cannot judge others. I think Jesus anticipated this and He says in verse 5 Hypocrite!” That’s ironic to me that Jesus is telling us not to judge but He is judging! The point is– Jesus is not against judging sin or pointing out right from wrong. He is against doing that with hypocrisy, with sin in our own hearts. Listen to what He says, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” The point here is not that you cannot judge someone else. The point is first clean your own eye so you can see clearly enough to clean someone else’s eye.

David and Nathan - Peter Frederick Rothermel

David and Nathan – Peter Frederick Rothermel

There’s also something deeper here that we cannot afford to miss. Both the speck and the plank are made out of wood. What I have found is this – if you are searching for the sawdust of sin in someone’s life, most of the time, it is because you are trying to hide a long thick heavy plank of sin in your own life. Listen carefully – When you become harsh over a speck in someone’s life, take it as a warning sign that there might be something of the same texture and make but much bigger in your life. The best example of this is when David sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband Uriah murdered. God was displeased and sent Nathan the prophet to confront him. Nathan told him a story of a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had many flocks and herds but the poor man had one little lamb. The lamb had grown up with his children and he took care of it as his child. One day the rich man had a visitor and instead of taking a lamb from his large herd, he took the poor man’s only lamb. 2 Samuel 12   5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” In other words, David was ready to string up a man over a lamb while he’d just stolen a man’s wife and had him murdered!

Application: How do you judge others? Do you judge yourself on a curve, against others? Or, do you judge yourself by God’s standard of perfection?

III. IF YOU HAVEN’T COUNTED THE COST, SEE IF IT’S WORTH IT.

Matt. 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

Background: This is one of the toughest verses in the Bible. It seems as if it has been wrongly placed at this point in the Sermon on the Mount. What is Jesus talking about? When we read it carefully in its context, it makes all the sense in the world. Here’s what Jesus is saying – “Suppose you have passed the first two conditions. (1. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it. 2. If you haven’t looked in the mirror, do that first.) You are ready to judge someone.” In other words, you’re willing to stand in the judgment zone and your heart is pure before God. The next question is “Is it worth it?” “Will they receive it well?” Here “dogs” are not like your pets but like the wild dogs that would scavenge outside the city walls. You could hear them growling at each other and anyone passing by. What Jesus is saying is “Don’t try to confront and judge people who will growl at you and try to bite your head off.” How about the “pigs?” Don’t think of pigs here as the nice farm pigs like Wilbur. These are like those that run around and eat out of the garbage. They can’t tell the difference between a rotten cabbage and a necklace of pearls. It reminds us of Proverbs 23:9 “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.” Also Proverbs 9 7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. 8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

Application: Have you counted the cost of trying to judge someone? Do you see hope in their life? Do you see that they will receive it well?

The person who can help us the most with all of this is the Holy Spirit. He knows when we need to be in the judgment zone. He knows when we need to look in the mirror. He knows when we need to back off and let God do the work instead of us.

Romans 14:10 “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Will you be able to stand before the judgment seat of Christ?

If you are lost, your hour of judgment is now. Receive Christ today so you won’t have to stand before the judge of all the earth.

Unity in the Body

UNITY IN THE BODY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Closeup image of hands of businesspeople on top of each other as symbol of their partnership

This morning we will be observing Communion. Turn to I Corinthians 11 for our message titled, UNITY IN THE BODY.

1 Corinthians 11   23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

Upper Room 1

Upper Room 1 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Upper Room 2

Upper Room 2 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Upper Room 3

Upper Room 3 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: About 10 months ago, Nicole and I stood in the very place where these words were spoken. It’s known as the Cenacle, the upper room, where Jesus celebrated the last supper with His disciples. How do we know that? Because, during the early centuries of Christianity, the church on this site was the center of Christianity in Jerusalem. Tradition claims that it was also the site where Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection and where the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Day of Pentecost. Even though the rib vaulted bay (ceiling), columns, pillars, and walls have been rebuilt many times, parts of the floor are claimed to be original. I cannot describe the feeling I had when we stood on the very ground that Jesus and the disciples possibly stood or sat on for the Last Supper.

Picture with me that night when Jesus was with His disciples in this upper room. Earlier in the evening Luke tells us in Luke 22:24 “there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” Jesus knew that and so in John 13 after the regular meal had ended Jesus began to wash the feet of His disciples. Why? To teach them what it meant to be humble. It was a demonstration of how they should be towards each other. They got it because when He revealed to them that one of them would betray Him, instead of being defensive or pointing fingers, Matthew 26:22 says, “they were exceedingly sorrowful…” and Mark 14:19 says, “they began…to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?”…“Is it I?” Meaning: They were not judging each other but themselves. Now, Jesus explained to them about the bread and the cup.

What’s the point? Before the disciples could understand the meaning of the bread and the cup, there had to be a change in attitude from pride and self-righteousness to humility, sorrow, and self-examination. A change in attitude had to come before a change in understanding. Unfortunately, by the time Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church, they were anything but that. They were pushing and shoving each other at the Lord’s Table. They were divided.

Question: How is your attitude this morning? Is there pride in your heart? Is there sorrow in your heart? Have you taken the time to think about what Jesus went through for you 2000 years ago? Have you examined yourself and asked – “Is it I?” or are you too busy judging others? Are you saved?

3 things we will see in this passage that will prepare us for Communion today and also bring unity in the body.

1. THE SOURCE OF DISUNITY 

To understand the context in which Paul wrote the words, we should begin in verse 17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, (Paul is telling them the reason for these instructions. It is to correct them.) since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

Background: What is Paul talking about? The Corinthian church was divided. Why? They had a lot of problems. You have to read the previous 10 chapters to understand that. They were filled with envy, strife, sexual immorality, idolatry, stealing, cursing, and the list goes on and one. They were living in the flesh. You cannot be united as a body of Christ and have this behavior on the side. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. In other words, it was no longer about the Lord’s Supper but their own supper. In other words, how the Corinthian Christians were acting at home is now how they were acting at church. Their personal sins were infecting the church body. What they were doing behind closed doors was now being done inside the church. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. Instead of the Communion being a time of humility, sorrow, and self-examination, they were having food fights! Who brought more food? Who brought less food? Who got in line first? As a result, some people were walking away hungry and some were walking away drunk. It was embarrassing! By the way, not much has changed, most church fights happen over food!

Here’s the point: Show me a church with a lot of problems and I will show you people living in sin. How you live Monday through Saturday will sooner or later show up Sunday mornings. “You can cover up only so long. Sooner or later it’ll come out in public.”

Application: How is Sunday worship for you? If Sunday worship is a sign of Monday living, how is Monday living? Is there trash in your life that you haven’t dealt with? Are you bringing your trash into the church body?

II. THE MEMORY OF THAT NIGHT 

Background: What is interesting to me is that Paul does not just reprimand them about their behavior at the table or give them a long lecture on the dangers of discord in church. Instead, he takes them down memory lane to that night when Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples. Listen to verse 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

That phrase – “in remembrance of Me” is very important. What Paul is saying here is that the reason you all are acting this way is because you have forgotten that night when Christ washed the feet of His disciples and when their hearts were humbled, He explained to them about the bread and the cup. You have lost sight of Christ and not just any Christ but the Christ who gave His body to be broken for us.

Again, verse 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Once again, there is that phrase – “in remembrance of Me.” You have forgotten your Master and God Jesus who allowed His blood to flow out for you.

What is the point? The antidote to disunity is a return to the night when Jesus revealed to His humble disciples the suffering that He was going to face. The reason churches are filled with pride and self-righteousness is because they have forgotten that night when Jesus was the focus and His sacrifice was the subject. Humility, great sorrow and self-examination was the only response. If there’s pride and hate in your life, bring the cross back into your memory.

Application: When was the last time you reflected on what Christ did on the cross for you? When was the last time you reflected on His death for your sins? When was the last time you told Him – “I’m not worthy of anything. It’s only by your grace that I stand.”

III. THE TIME FOR SELF-EXAMINATION

1 Corinthians 11   27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

The consequence of their personal sins was weakness, sickness, and even death. Could it be that the church in America is weak, sick, and dead is because we have lost sight of the sacrifice and death of Jesus for us.

Now, this is the crux of the matter – What do we do now? Listen to verse 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. The place to begin is to deal with sin in my own heart. What is the promise? If I do it, God won’t have to.

Application: Have you examined your life lately? This does not mean that you need to do introspection on yourself—go looking for sin. Let God expose your sin. Let God decide what is sin in your life. Then deal with it harshly.

What’s the result? It will bring unity in the body.

Are you part of the body of Christ?

%d bloggers like this: