Judging Others – Sermon Notes

Dr. Greg Johnston - Jul 7, 2013

Judging Others

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This post includes sermon notes from Dr. Greg Johnston on Judging Others, which was preached at The Grove Church as part of the “Living in Community with Others” series.

Video:  Susan Boyle on Britain Has Talent.

Last week I caught an episode of Extreme Log Homes on the TV.  They featured three massive and unique log homes that had price tags of 3.5 – 7 million dollars.  The owners of these homes had each gone to great lengths to design and build log homes that, at least in their minds, were priceless.

Something is usually considered priceless when it is special, unique, and rare, and because price is of no consideration to those who seek to obtain it.

Therefore, real Christian love is a priceless commodity.  It is priceless because it is special, unique (to Christians), and extremely rare.  And the truth is that there are few people who are willing to pay the price to obtain it.

One of the easiest areas of failure that a Christian can fall prey to is to develop a judgmental and critical spirit.  It seems so natural to find fault with other people while we ignore our own shortcomings.

Jesus addressed this tendency to criticize others in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 7:1-12

1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?    5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 

6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 

12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

T/S:  Today I want to look at the instructions Jesus gave us in dealing with our critical spirit.

We Must Not Condone the Critical Spirit.

1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

These words of Jesus are not a quaint request, but an imperative command.  The words, “Do not judge . . .” literally means “stop judging!”

The Greek word krino means to decide between two things and reach a decision.  Jesus said we are not to judge other people.

Why? It seems so natural to criticize and judge others.

Reasons we are not to judge others

1) We are not capable of being a judge.

We don’t have all the facts so we cannot fairly make a decision about others.

Video:  Ameriquest commercial with the cat.

In the NT, Jesus is the only person who referred to other people as hypocrites.  The reason is that He is the only One who knows the inner motives of others, and could therefore determine that they were play-acting.

2) The word judgment  (krima) means to prejudge.

Video:  Shrek

Jesus said we are not to prejudge people before we have all the facts.

3) We pass judgment on ourselves.

2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

There are no double standards with God.  He holds you to the same standards that you set for others.

4)  The judgments of men are fallible and subject to be wrong.

 Even with all the facts (and that is not possible), we can still make wrong decision.

Illustration:  The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1st – the 3rd, in 1863.  Four months later the battlefield was dedicated as a cemetery honoring those who had died.

President Abraham Lincoln gave a two minute dedicatory speech that one newspaper declared was the worst Presidential speech ever given.

Yet the Gettysburg Address is considered one of the finest speeches ever delivered by an American President.

5)  A critical Christian is not a loving Christian.

This is especially true when our own sins (log) are greater than those of the person we are criticizing (speck).

Carping criticism is a spiritual sin.  Fleshly sin destroys the body, while spiritual sin destroys our spirit.

God hates all sin, but He looks with the most disfavor on those sins of the spirit such as pride, prejudice, and judgmental criticism.

Jesus called the self-righteous people like the Pharisees hypocrites because they were outwardly clean but inwardly filthy.  Yet He did not use that description of those guilty of the scarlet sins of society because they knew they were sinful.

The attitude we should have as Christians is to clean up our own life and then in humility and kindness to render aid, not criticism to others.

How are we to achieve this?  After all, Jesus is asking a lot from us.

We Must Pray in Order to Conquer the Critical Spirit

6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 

This promise deals generally with prayer, but the specific promise in this passage is for us to gain moral and spiritual discrimination.

We cannot hope to achieve the standard that Jesus sets except through prayer and the power of God.

We are to ask for it, then, as God in His grace gives it, we are to seek it, and we are not to stop until we achieve it.

The three words; ask, seek, and knock are all present imperatives, which means that we are commanded to keep asking, seeking, and knocking all the time.  In other words, we must be persistent.

Jesus tells us that if we are persistent in prayer, we will be successful in overcoming the critical spirit toward others.

We Must Be Proactive to Control Our Critical Spirit

12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

These words can change your life as a Christian from what you are into what Christ wants you to be.

Some say that this teaching is not unique to Jesus.  For example:

Hillel the Hebrew:  “Do not do to your neighbor what is hateful to you.”

Socrates the Greek:  “What stirs your anger when done to you by others; that do not do to others.”

Confucius the Chinese:  “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

The difference is that theirs is negative and passive, while Jesus’ is positive and proactive.  Theirs is only silver, but Jesus’ is golden.

The reason our souls are shriveled, our witness is blunted, and the fellowship among Christians is destroyed is because we can’t even measure up to the Silver Rule, much less the Golden Rule.

When we allow our critical spirit to control us, we become stumbling blocks to the world instead of stepping stones to God.

Yet we can live by the Golden Rule and overcome our critical spirit by becoming proactive and positive in our actions toward others.

Conclusion:  Are you willing to pay the price of Christian love?  It is high and it calls for persistent prayer and positive action, but the rewards are worth it all.

Illustration:  A little girl was upset that her brother had set out a trap to catch birds, so when she went to bed she prayed that it would not catch any.  The next morning she got up early and went outside and destroyed the trap so it couldn’t catch any birds.

Jesus said we need to pray to overcome a critical spirit, but He also said we need to be proactive in overcoming our tendency to be critical.

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