We are continuing our study of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, given to the crowd of disciples. He began with the beatitudes, told us to shine our light, not to be like the religious hypocrites who do righteous things to be noticed, and not to be like the world who live for money. Now, Jesus gives us a new topic...
Verse one is probably quoted by more people today than any other Bible verse. It is the cry of the people who preach tolerance and acceptance of every alternative lifestyle and viewpoint.
But this is not a command not to judge. In fact, Jesus Himself also said,
John 7:24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
We are to judge, but we are to judge only with righteous judgment. And righteous judgment can only be performed by someone who has first judged himself. "Do not judge lest ye be judged." That is the real teaching Jesus gave about this: "Your brother has a speck in his eye which needs to come out. But you can't see clearly to take out his speck if you have a log in your own eye. So get rid of your log first!"
We are to have righteous judgment. Unrighteous judgment is when we judge someone's sin while we ourselves are guilty of even greater sin of the same sort. After all, the speck and the log are just different magnitudes of the same material.
And so I do have the ability to think, "Someone needs to tell Brother Joe that he is in sin with his bitterness and unforgiveness. And yet I have to make sure I'm not struggling with that same issue myself. I need to have victory over that issue in my own life before I can confront him about his.
One of the classic illustrations of this is found in the life of David. He'd committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had her husband killed to cover up the subsequent pregnancy.
David thought that all of his bases were covered. But then the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David. Nathan began to give David a news report: "David, recently, there was a rich man and a poor man. All the poor man had was a little lamb that was like the family dog. It was loved like a member of the family. But when the rich man had some out-of-town visitors, he chose not to serve dinner from his own flock, but instead cooked that poor man's lamb."
2Sam. 12:5 Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die!"
Imagine how David felt when Nathan replied, "You are that man."
We must not judge until we have first judged ourselves.
Often, this verse is thought to be speaking of not preaching the gospel to those who won't receive it. However, if kept in context, we see that Jesus is saying that just because the exhortation and judgment you have to give is holy and valuable, doesn't mean it's going to be received. In fact, it may be trampled underfoot while you are being attacked by the very person to whom you were offering the truth.
One of the great difficulties of being a pastor is when you follow the command to...
2Tim. 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Doing these things is not difficult, but the difficulty lies in people's reaction....
2Tim. 4:3 ...when they will not endure sound doctrine...
A number of years ago, my cat had chased a squirrel up the tree in our front yard. She had gotten so high up that she couldn't get down. It was left to me to be the rescuer. I climbed my 20-foot extension ladder to where she was, and tried to pick her up to bring her down. But she was so weirded out by what was going on that she clawed me severely, lacerating my forearm. I was trying to offer her rescue, but she was turning on me. This is what often happens when we offer the pearls of wisdom to those who would rather attack and trample us.
This does not mean that we never offer those pearls to anyone, though. Remember,
Gal. 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness...
So then, how do we know when to offer the pearls and when not to? How can we have the discernment between a hurting brother and an unholy swine? Jesus tells us...
We need to ask. Discernment is not intuition. And inspiration does not come from experience. In every situation, we need to ask to the Lord for wisdom and guidance.
Some say, "Well, I don't think that God ever answers my prayers. I just don't think He's really paying that much attention." But to say such a thing is to accuse God of being worse than an earthly father who is fleshly and sinful! Even unrighteous fathers give their children what they need when they ask!
Then Jesus says to us what has been called, "The Golden Rule." But have you ever noticed the "therefore" in the Golden Rule? A good rule of Bible study is to stop and ask what the "therefore" is there for.
The Golden Rule of treating people the way you want to be treated is BECAUSE you don't want to be rebuked by a hypocrite who hasn't dealt with his own sin, BECAUSE you don't want to be disregarded as an unholy swine by someone who didn't bother to pray before deciding what you were worthy of.
BECAUSE you don't want to be the victim of somebody's twisted Christianity, make sure that you are treating people with the same grace and mercy that you hope to receive from others. It amazes me to see how harshly some Christians treat others. Don't they understand that they will receive that back in the same measure?
There is a narrow way and a narrow gate that leads to life. Few people find it. This goes against the world's teaching that "all roads lead to God." In fact, there is one way, and it's very narrow. I may be called narrow-minded, but that's okay. I'd rather be in agreement with Jesus than with the world.
Jesus said that He is the way, He is the truth, and He is the life. Jesus is the one way to eternal life. Will you find Him?