When we become born-again God changes the way we think. Not just a little bit or simply concerning a few religious matters, but in virtually every area of life, He changes the way we think about Him, about ourselves, about others. Our goals change, our values change, our definition of success changes. What we love changes, what we hate changes. Some of this change is automatic and immediate. It happens the moment we receive Christ, but some of our attitudes and behaviors seem to change only as we learn the Word of God and then step-by-step bring our old nature into submission to His will.
With the command to judge not! Jesus puts His finger on one of the most troubled places in the human heart. Though His words clearly forbid His people to be judgmental toward others, Christians are generally thought to be more judgmental than the average population, not less. We bear a reputation for being critical and harsh not only to unbelievers but to each other as well. And though some of this is undeserved, theres no escaping the fact that over the centuries judgmentalism in the church has driven many seekers away and repeatedly splintered the family of God into angry factions. But weve also seen seasons where the lack of judgmentalism has prevailed and people have been drawn to Christ and bonded together as a loving family.
Of all the commands of our Lord, none is harder to obey, yet more important than this one. When His people learn to judge not we release seasons of revival. When judgment is replaced with love people are saved, healed and set free.
What is judgmentalism? (v 37)
To assume that I have the right and capacity to accurately assess another persons motives, worth and future potential. (Ge 2:9, 16, 17; 3:5, 6)
Why is this wrong?
1. It reveals my heart lacks these four things:
- Faith: I have forgotten how important the person is to God
- Love: I have criticized someone without committing myself to help
- Humility: a) I have forgotten that only God knows the true motives of a persons heart and is fit to judge it (1Sa 16:7); b) I have forgotten whos God (Ro 14:4-12)
- Hope: I have stopped expecting God to change that persons heart
2. It sours my personality toward others who are innocent.
- I develop a generalized grudge toward similar individuals (those people are all alike)
3. I sin by passing my judgments on to others.
The Underlying Principle (v 38)
a) Giving love, patience and mercy releases a powerful response in others. A community is created where, in our own moments of weakness, we receive far more grace than we have given. b) Nothing binds up my ability to receive Gods grace like judging others. In order to receive His mercy I must choose to give mercy (prodigals).
Gods Perspective (v 41)
A harsh judgmental attitude is far worse than the sins we criticize in others. It proves we are loveless and disqualified to help others. Only those who judge themselves first are fit to correct others (with reluctance, not satisfaction; moderation, not exaggeration; love, not harshness).
Where does judgmentalism come from? (vs 43-45)
With this parable Jesus compares a person whose heart is full of love to a tree that bears good fruit. He says the attitude of the heart will always be revealed by the words that person speaks. Harsh words reveal a judgmental heart.
What is the solution?
It is impossible to simply will myself to stop judging others. To change I must learn to process offenses differently.
1. Let God be the judge. (Ge 50:19, Joseph; 1Sa 16:6, 7, Samuel)
2. Pray for the person and bless them. (2Ki 6:8-23, Elisha)
3. Give people time to learn and grow. (1Co 13:4, 7)
4. Never lose sight of Gods love for that person. (Mt 5:44, 45)
5. Always keep your own sinfulness in perspective. You need mercy too. (Mt 10:8; 18:23-35)
When can we judge?
1 Corinthians 5:12
1. Have you had someone judge your motives unfairly? How did you respond?
2. What point in this message speaks most powerfully to you?