Friday Study Ministries- The First Church on the Internet


Go to Home Page

Sunday Sermon - 3/25/01 - Matthew 7:1 - Judge Not


Judge Not

"Judge not lest you be judged" (Matthew 7:1)

Part of the Human Resources function within the workplace, often includes "tracking" attendance. When I stood by the time clock, I would note who was late and who didn't appear at all. Then I saw a "problem".

I would see someone clock-in "late" who would show-up on the weekly time sheets as "on-time". My eyes saw one thing and the electronic report "saw" another. I was new to the job and wondered, "What's going on?"

It turned-out they went to the time clock all through the day, when transferring efforts from one function to another. By placing a different time and function into the device, they could show efforts expended on specific tasks. It was a very good system, but the precise operation of it was outside of my experience and so I did not understand what was happening.

And so it is with life - we literally SEE one thing, but the reality is often far different from what we think we perceive. That is a big part of the underlying problem in relation to the JUDGING of the behavior of others. We often just don't have enough information.

We heard a wonderful sermon illustration by a local Pastor. He confessed to being a "terrible" golfer, and further, he was constantly in need of a "Mulligan." He defined a "Mulligan" as a free shot on the golf course. If you hit a bad ball (into the lake, off the course, or whatever) you get to take the shot again, as though you never hit the first one. There are important applications - 1) Jesus Christ has given us the ultimate "Mulligan" (forgiveness) by dying in our place, and 2) we should give "Mulligans" to one another. We should be slow to condemn and quick to forgive.

In human relationships, there are typical responses which lead to misunderstandings, arguments, physical altercations, character assassination, divorce, civil disagreements, and world wars. These include:

  • Taking the Credit
  • Avoiding Responsibility
  • Assigning the Blame

The problem is, whether we're in the kitchen with our spouse, or in the corporate boardroom with a co-worker, we like to be RIGHT so much that we typically place ourselves into category "1) Taking the Credit" at all cost (when things are going well) - even when we don't deserve to be there. And when things go wrong (which they do - we're human), people naturally avoid responsibility, as in item "2)". We perform these functions very well and if you study children carefully, you'll observe that we were BORN with these abilities.

Because we are human, we want to put the blame on SOMEBODY (before they blame us) and so we tend to spend our lives in category "3) Assigning the Blame". Our "little ones" are just as good at item "3)" as we are.  We want to be the "good guys" and to look good at all cost; and so we become judgmental beings who are always looking for faults in other people.

Which brings us to our Scripture verse: "Judge not lest you be judged" (Matthew 7:1). This was part of the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, and these words were uttered right after He told us to stop worrying about things (Matthew 6:25-34), and right before He said to start praying (Matthew 7:7-11). In the midst of this, He referred to those who "3) Assign the Blame", as "hypocrites".

Here's an example of how we "judge" others:   We meet somebody and decide we don't like them, right at the start. There's SOMETHING about them, we decide. So, we start looking for what I call "evidence for the prosecution" in our dealings with them. They sense our dislike and respond with suspicion. All of this escalates into out-and-out hatred for one another. Wars tend to start in precisely the same manner.

If we are constantly worrying about how we look and how we seem to others, we are headed for trouble. If that person we meet simply LOOKS at some part of us we don't emphasize (perhaps we think our ears are large and they look at them), we will decide we don't care for them. Our dislike of that person is likely a need to take away attention from something we consider negative about ourselves by pointing instead at THEM. When we do such things, we are "hypocrites" in the sight of our Lord, and in danger of judgment.

The "norm" for the Christian life (if anything about Christians can be termed "normal" for this world) is found in 1st Corinthians 13. "Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1st Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love "does not seek its own." If we could get that part right, then everything else in our lives would fall into place. It's no accident that this chapter (1st Corinthians 13) is right between two wonderful chapters on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (12 & 14). Those gifts mean nothing without love (1st Corinthians 13:1-3) and we cannot truly love, unless we are enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit of God.

Jesus pointed out that we must be changed ("born again" as He put it - John 3:5-6). He indicated our need and He also provides the way. Let's ask for assistance:

Father, we need Jesus, more than we ever thought or knew. Dear Lord, fill our hearts and lives with Your Holy Spirit, that we may love one another. Free us from the need to make false judgments about them; rescue us (rescue them from us), and grant us peace. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham
Friday Study Ministries