- “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 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? 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. 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.”
DO NOT JUDGE SO THAT YOU WILL NOT BE JUDGED
Judging: a difficult topic that we struggle with in the church. When can we judge? What can we judge? Can we judge actions as long as we don’t judge people? Or does judging actions actually judge people? And at some point, all of the questions boil down to the result of not knowing what to do so we judge anyway. And the cycle continues.
This week’s study is not that series of questions. As I struggled through what to teach, how to teach it, and what real-world examples could be used to prove the point, God intervened. In many ways, we have missed the point on this command. We look at the tiny intricacies of every situation and determine whether it is okay to judge and how. But the truth of the matter is that in order to understand the command, we have to try and understand the Man who gave it and how He behaved toward others.
JESUS TO HIS SEEKERS
Jesus loved all people. Yes, sometimes that love came with a stern rebuke, but He loved them nonetheless. Judging is all about putting oneself above another. Yet Jesus says to be servant of all.
Read Luke 7:36-39. What stands out to you?
There are several things here. One, in verse 39, the Pharisee judges Jesus based on the company He kept. This man invited Jesus in for dinner then judged Him because of the prostitute. How often do we do that? How often have we judged one person as unrighteous or unworthy and then judged everyone around them the same way in the spirit of guilty-by-association?
Confess that now.
Another aspect of this is that not only was the woman a prostitute, generally speaking, the act of a woman unwrapping her hair was an act of seduction. It just wasn’t done in public. Yet this woman, overcome by her love for Jesus, took whatever she had and used it. His feet needed wiping and her hair was all she had.
We can appreciate the heart of what the woman did. She was wiping away her tears with the only thing she had. But what if this happened today, and the only thing the woman had was a peasant blouse with nothing on underneath? Would we be so understanding? Or would we, like the Pharisees, shun her and judge the Man she sought to love?
If Jesus could welcome genuine expressions of love without social restrictions, why do we so harshly judge others? Yes, Jesus is God and can see her heart; but reading this account, the sum of her actions reveal her heart as well. The sum of her actions is that she loved Him. And instead of the violated social graces that waved bright and clear in the Pharisees’ minds, Jesus welcomed her and forgave her sins.
What is He showing you? What can you learn from these few verses of scripture? What judging attitudes need to be rooted up and destroyed?
I am more and more convinced that judging stems form a heart that asks “just who do you think you are?” As I write this lesson, I am confronted again and again with my own judging behaviors. And consistent in them is the deep root of arrogant pre-determination of what someone else things, feels, or what motivation is driving them. The following scripture is one where I must admit, I would have been in the crowd asking, “what on earth is going on in that man’s mind?!?” And yet, my own attitude would have cut off one of the genuine seekers.
Read Luke 19:1-10. What stands out to you?
Zaccheus sought to see Jesus so passionately that he climbed a tree. A tree. And Jesus honored that passion, once again overlooking the unconventional way the seeker came to Him. Or rather, maybe Jesus honors the unconventional. Maybe He would love to see more passionate outbursts of devotion and fewer polite greetings. Maybe He would love to receive the pure, honest, genuine love of an overwhelmed seeker than the conventional step-by-step approach we impose on those who do not believe in Jesus.
In what ways has your conventional approach squelched your passionate seeking of Jesus?
What were the results of Jesus’ visit to Zaccheus’ house?
What or whom might we be cutting off from Jesus because we rely too much on convention and overlook sincere passion?
What is Jesus asking you to do?
In comparing the account of the prostitute’s tears and Zaccheus’ exuberance, what do you find in common with their stories?
When people passionately seek Jesus, there actions often lay outside the conventional boundaries we tend to put on things. We overlook that someone can just as passionately serve Jesus in a job outside of ministry as they can inside ministry. And we overlook that someone’s passionate seeking might be someone else’s quest for personal glory. We cannot judge someone’s motivation. What we can do is passionately seek Jesus in our own lives. We can study His word and follow His lead. And what we will find is more gracious and loving community as a result.
JESUS’ TREATMENT OF THOSE WHO BETRAY
It is a great story to study those who passionately seek Jesus. It can be much easier to buy into a non-judging perspective when the person’s heart is driving toward the cross. But what about those who betray us? What are we to do with those who knowingly do something to hurt us? Let’s look at two cases where Jesus dealt with this exact issue.
Read Mark 14:27-31 and 66-72. What stands out to you?
How did Jesus treat Peter? Read verses 32-42 for more information.
Jesus knew Peter would betray Him. We often only think of Judas’ actions as betrayal, but Peter’s denial left Jesus to stand alone. It was betrayal too.
Read Acts 2:1-40. What happened to Peter after Christ ascended to heaven following the resurrection?
Peter, one of the closest disciples to Jesus, denied knowing Him, and thus betrayed Him. Jesus did not avoid the issue, but neither did He cut Peter off from the fold. He addressed it early, and when it happened, Jesus looked Peter in the eye. If Peter’s story stopped there, we would have branded him a betrayer. Yet Peter kept trying, kept seeking, and eventually stood as the first pastor at Pentacost and a great in the household of faith.
In what ways do we see a particular action of a person and pre-determine that they will never be great in faith?
In what ways have you been denied by someone?
What was your reaction?
What lessons can you take from Jesus’ interaction with Peter to help you the next time you feel denied or betrayed?
Peter’s betrayal of Christ overlapped in the same 24 hours as another’s betrayal. Judas was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He was close to Christ. He left his life just like all the other disciples to follow Jesus. And yet, like Peter, Judas betrayed Christ as well.
Go back to Mark 14. Read verses 18-26, 41-46. What stands out to you?
Notice the disciples’ response in verse 18. Jesus spoke of the betrayal, but in a way that the disciples did not know which one would actually carry out the deed. In fact, they all questioned their devotion and wondered if it was they who would betray.
In verses 20-26, how did Jesus treat Judas?
Jesus continued to share the Passover meal without interruption. Judas experienced it all and Jesus knew of Judas’ plot. Again, Jesus did not shy away from the issue, while also continuing fellowship with the one who would hand Him over to be crucified.
And yet, we focus so greatly on that single act of “betrayal” that we overlook a very important point.
Read Mark 14:34-36. Who did Jesus see as the responsible decision-maker in His crucifixion?
Jesus could fellowship with Judas because He knew that His crucifixion lay in the hands of God, not of men. Many people were gunning for Jesus. The crowds had tried to toss Him off a cliff before. The crucifixion would have come about whether Judas was involved or not. Jesus knew that. And because Jesus put His faith in the faithful God and not in unfaithful man, He could endure the betrayal.
In what ways have you placed too much emphasis on the actions of men and not enough emphasis on the sovereignty of God?
There is more to Judas’ story that we often overlook. Read Matthew 27:1-5. What stands out to you?
Compare Peter’s remorse with Judas’. What do they have in common? What is different?
Both men showed remorse. Read that again: BOTH men showed remorse. And Judas actually went back to the priests and told them he was wrong. He gave back the money and admitted his guilt. Peter simply ran away, never admitting to the young girl that he knew Christ.
I point this out to show that we have judged Judas, who showed remorse for his betrayal, and we have elevated Peter, who showed remorse in a different way. We have judged one betrayal as worse than another when both betrayed and both repented. We have forgotten that Jesus knew both actions would happen and He trusted the Father more than men.
Because of our harsher judgment of Judas, there is one more thing we overlook about his story. Judas hanged himself. His remorse was great, but his self-condemnation drove him to take his own life. Jesus did not condemn him, he condemned himself. And we have spent centuries agreeing with his self-condemnation.
In what ways can your judgment of someone actually feed an already-existing reality of self-condemnation?
We think of judging in mere terms of “they hurt me so I’m cutting them off.” We lie to ourselves, believing that our condemnation will lead to the other person’s repentance. What it may very well lead to is their life-long determination that they are not worthy to be called a child of God.
Make NO EXCUSES for your condemnation of others. You have no idea what is going on in their hearts. You cannot know the impact of your judging.
Confess it now. What is Christ asking you to do right now?