Sunday, October 21, 2012

Judge Not

Judge Not
Intro.: I think it would be pretty obvious that I like education.
  1. I mean, with 5 college degrees, including 3 Masters degrees, there must be something that keeps driving me back to school.
  2. I mean, even after having done that, since I had been away from formal ministry for so long, I began to pursue a personal retraining program. I took a half dozen trips to Indiana to take FLAME courses – mostly designed for people who were considering entering ministry as a second career, but used by me as a way to re-establish much of what I had learned 20 years earlier in seminary.
  3. That has been my life.
  4. But there is a university that God wants all to attend – that is His University.
  5. Life is the classroom – as we move through the various events that God put across our life.
  6. And any classroom needs a textbook – the answer would be obvious – the Bible
  7. And every classroom needs a teacher – for the Christian the teacher is the Holy Spirit.
  8. This week, God took me into his own university.
  9. I had to learn an important lesson – one I did not expect to learn.
  10. And I got it as I spent time in the University text book – the word of God. And I did not need to go far from where we left off last week.
Read: James 4:11-12
T.S. What was it that I learned this week, what was this important lesson that God had to teach me, a lesson so important that we all have to learn it.
  1. I learned I can be like God
    1. How often have I preached it – let us follow your example.
    2. I really want my life to reflect who Jesus is.
    3. Of course I want to love those allow to cross my path.
    4. But you know, every so often some crosses my path that gets me really upset. After all – I know that not everybody is perfect.
    5. But there are times that I wish I had a little blue flashing light that I could place on top of my car – when some is following too closely, when someone passes me to fast.
    6. Or there are times when I wish I could pull out a badge and at least scare that person who just about pushed me over in the grocery store.
    7. I suppose I might be just like everybody else:
(Ill.) Too many people sit in judgment on everybody. They seem to delight in imputing unworthy motives to others, and in this respect perhaps they are judging others by themselves. When they see someone working for the Lord, they’ll say, “Oh, yes, George is a real saint, but he gets paid for what he does, you know.” The inference is that if he weren’t paid he’d not be so zealous for the Lord. It may be that the financial compensation for his work had something to do with his decision to engage in it; but it may not have been his main motive by any means. It’s all too human to exaggerate the secondary motives of others. We seem to derive some sort of satisfaction in pointing out the flaws in their characters. It seems that the only way some people can build themselves up in their own eyes is by tearing others down.
    1. And judging is part of what God does – and I do want to be like Jesus.
  1. But I learned that God does not always want me to be like him
    1. And that is exactly what God intended. Listen again to the words of James:
          Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

(Ill.) Mahatma Gandhi once asked Mahatma Gandhi what would it take to make Christianity more acceptable in India. Gandhi replied, “I would suggest, first, that all of you Christians … begin to live more like Jesus Christ.”i
    1. The world knows we need to be like Jesus – but God places limits – here he tells us not to judge.
(Ill.) I like this poem:

                                        Judge not.
                                        The workings of the mind and heart
                                        Thou canst not see.
                                        What looks to thy dim eyes as stain
                                        In God’s pure light may only be a scar,
                                        Bought from some well-won field
                                        Where thou wouldst only faint and yield.ii
    1. When I take time to judge others, I am playing the role of God – a role he does not want me to play.
    2. But that is not quite right – you see, it is not only the judging of others that can trap us up, it is also judging ourselves.
    3. It is easy to understand that God loves everyone – but too often we live as if it were everyone else. I can understand why he does not want me to be judging them.
    4. But God loves me too. And if God loves me, then what right do I have to judge myself – I mean I am as broken as the rest of the world.
    5. And God also loves you. And if God loves you, then what right do you have to judge yourself – I mean you and I both are as broken as the rest of the world.
    6. We need to show as much grace to each other, and to ourselves, as we show to the rest of the world.
    7. God does, can I do any less.

  1. Bottom line – I am called to share God's love and do his work, not to take on his responsibility.
    1. Judging is not a behavior God wants from His people. James makes it clear when he writes, But who are you to judge your neighbor? Man lacks the requisite knowledge and wisdom and purity to do this job that God reserves for himself.
(Ill.) Among the Sioux Indians there prevailed in the days of the frontier a strange custom. If one of the tribes determined to travel for a little while in areas guarded by other tribes, always on the night before he left his camp, the traveler would be required to sit with the chiefs of the Sioux tribe around a campfire and then before it fell back into gray ash he would be asked to arise and, silhouetted against the flames, would lift this prayer, “Great Spirit, help me to never judge another until I have walked two weeks in his moccasins.” iii
    1. What we can do is love our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    2. Rather than judging others or ourselves, we can spend our time understanding the characteristics of believer such as we saw in Ps. 15 as we had our responsive reading this morning..
    3. Finally, The reasonableness of fearing God, as the one true and final Judge.iv God both loves us and is our judge.
(Ill.) Let me conclude with a story that may help us remember how God can both love us and be our judge. The story was originally told by Josh McDowell in his book More Than A Carpenter. He tells us that an incident that took place several years ago in California illuminates what Jesus did on the cross.… A young woman was picked up for speeding. She was ticketed and taken before the judge. The judge read off the citation and said, “Guilty or not guilty?” The woman replied, “Guilty.” The judge brought down the gavel and fined her $100 or ten days. Then an amazing thing took place. The judge stood up, took off his robe, walked down around in front, took out his billfold, and paid the fine. What’s the explanation of this? The judge was her father. He loved his daughter, yet he was a just judge. His daughter had broken the law, and he couldn’t just say to her, “Because I love you so much, I forgive you. You may leave.” If he had done that, he wouldn’t have been a righteous judge.… But he loved his daughter so much he was willing to take off his judicial robe and come down in front and represent her as her father and pay the fine.v

iMorgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (103). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
iiIllustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively. 1989 (M. P. Green, Ed.) (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
iiiSizoo, Joseph R. Quoted in Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
ivJames. 1909 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.). The Pulpit Commentary (63). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
vMcDowell, Joshua in More Than A Carpenter. Quoted in Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (173). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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