Transcription details: Audio 07 29 2018.mp3
Input sound file: Audio 07 29 2018.mp3
in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Well, we are familiar with that road sign that says, “Stop,” but almost every other road sign says something different. We’re beginning a series where, in Matthew Chapter 7, Jesus begins to tell us what’s expected if you want to be a disciple, if you want to follow him. He uses these words, “The way is narrow that leads to life and there are few that find it.” You know why that’s true? Because you have to look for it. Because you have to get up and seek it. You have to get up and walk those steps and quite often– it’s not that the Christian life is so hard, but it is uphill. So often the fact that it requires some effort on our parts makes it too hard for some people. But in following Jesus, He sets the bar a little higher than what we’re used to and he says, “You can do it. Come and follow Me.” And there are parts in following Jesus that will require some effort from us. But it is a journey to follow Jesus. And when we follow Jesus, we need to pay attention to the road signs. Now, almost all the road signs you see encourage us to slow down. Children have two speeds; too fast and too slow. But the fact is all of us, we have the same problem. Sometimes you’re going too fast. Sometimes you’re going too slow. This sign says, “Watch what you’re doing. Be careful. Go slow.” Somebody tell me what this sign tells us is the reason we have to go slow. What is it?
There’s children on their way to school. It’s a crosswalk. And how about this one? There’s a curvy road. You ever find yourself going too fast around a curve? It’ll teach you to slow down. How about this one? If you’re driving on loose gravel, did you every kind of stop really fast on a gravel road? It’s not exactly like ice, but sometimes you can slide and lose your ability to steer. When you see this sign, you have to slow down. Don’t stop moving, but slow down and be cautious. This sign, too. sometimes when it rains, the road gets a little slick. You have to drive carefully because this sign says that the road is slippery when it’s wet. Sometimes you have to be prepared to stop because there’s people who are working on the road. Their safety is very important. Now there’s road signs you don’t see quite as often. This is one they have up in Alaska [laughter]. You don’t want to leave your windows open because there are mosquitos that are big enough to carry a grown human being away. Also, you’ll see this one in the mountains of Wisconsin where they have a have a problem with falling cows [laughter]. You just need to slow down and be cautious. You can move forward, but you have to be careful. But sometimes there’s another sign like this one. It says, “Road closed.” What that means is don’t go there. Friends, one of the most hazardous conditions literally deadly is for you to walk into, or drive into, running water. You don’t want to go there. It’ll lift you off your feet, it’ll lift your car up off the ground and before you know it, your life can be over. Never drive into water that’s over the road, unless you know it might be just an inch deep. But even a few inches deep can be very dangerous. This sign says that road is closed and you’d better not be on it. And there are times when Jesus says, “You want to follow me? Don’t go down that road, that’s not for you.” And He’s not down that road either. Don’t go there. But you know what happens when we, human beings, see a sign like that? We think it’s for somebody else. We think, if we’re careful, we’re going to be just fine. Sometimes we just want to go down there and look, and see what it is. But sometimes the road is closed and that means don’t go there. Now, here’s why this is important. Matthew 7:1, here’s what Jesus says – very first verse in the chapter – “Judge not.” Why? “That you not be judged.” Verse 2. “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” And the reason Jesus says this is that we are not to go there. But if you Google this verse and look on the internet, you will find article after article, after article, that explains that that’s not what this means. That Christians have to learn how to judge. We just need to learn how to judge properly, we just need to learn the right way to judge. Because we always have to know the difference between right and wrong, although that’s not what this refers to. This refers to the difference between a bad person and a good person. Because there’s a terrible temptation for us to want to tell people that they are bad. How many of you love to watch these judge shows, like Judge Judy? You just love it when Judge Judy puts the hammer down on somebody. You know why? What makes that show popular is we love to look down on stupid people [laughter]. Come on, it’s human. And a lot of the talk shows, Maury Povich and all these other ones– we love to look down on people, and it’s just like a festival of judging people. And Jesus says, “Don’t do that.” And on the internet, and everywhere, you will find all kinds of reasons why– no. It’s okay to do that if you do it in the right way. No. No. No. No. No.
I’d like to tell you, my parents smoked. My parents smoked, a lot. Every little bit of furniture my parents owned had these little black marks on the edge of it where they would set their cigarettes, just like this, and forget about them, and then it would burn right into the furniture. Every time I see furniture with a burn mark on it, like that, it makes me feel nostalgic [laughter]. Because my parents smoked and I don’t, my brother doesn’t we never could figure that out. My uncle, none of his kids– he doesn’t smoke and all four of his kids do. We don’t understand it. But the reason I put this cigarette up there is because there are people who don’t smoke– because this is the key when it comes to judging someone, there are people who don’t smoke. And because they don’t, they feel that they’re free to judge someone who does as if they didn’t do anything. You understand? That’s bad. And I know it’s bad because it’s not my problem. Well, friends, if it’s not your problem, that’s wonderful. But if it’s not your problem, then you don’t know what it is to struggle with it. If it’s not your problem, you don’t know what it is to give into it. Because it’s easy for us to judge someone when we don’t do the thing that we’re looking down on. Why? Because it makes us feel superior. That’s the human weakness. It makes us feel superior. Now, I do want to tell you, stack three Oreos right there where that cigarette is, and I got a real problem, or something else. But here is one of the major realities of judging. Most of the time people judge someone else because they do something that that person doesn’t struggle with. But if you bring up the thing they struggle with, ooh, they don’t like that at all. Everybody’s got something that’s not quite perfect. So judge not.
Second thing, with the Pharisees, the reason they got into being judgmental is they wanted to measure themselves against other people. With the Pharisees, the judgement was all about, if I’m better than you, then God must love me more than you. Well, here’s the deal. The fact that you can find someone who’s better than you does not mean that you’re better. It doesn’t matter how rotten you are, you can find someone who’s worse. I guarantee you. But the other reason we shouldn’t judge is when we start comparing ourselves to other people, it makes us feel superior when we should not be feeling superior. If we compare ourselves to Jesus, we’ll be on the right road. But to compare ourselves against someone else, that doesn’t mean at all that we’re better. But that’s part of the temptation. And here’s another part of the temptation. The reason that you shouldn’t judge other people is you’re not qualified. You may be good, but you’re not that good. You are not qualified to judge other people. Now let’s see how Jesus explains that. Here’s what Jesus says, “Why do you,” and it’s plural there, “you all,” this is all human beings. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Now I’d like to imagine just for a minute that Jesus is telling a joke, because I’m not too sure that this isn’t a joke. Now, this is not a log. It’s just a pen. If you want to pretend that it’s a pencil, then it would be a stick. Now let’s imagine what Jesus says. Larry Hebron, I think you have a speck in your eye. Let me get a really close look. And the person [inaudible] will say, “Wow, that hurts.” And then I can say, “Well that’s because you have a speck in your eye.” If you have a stick coming out of your eye, how can you get a good look at someone else without hurting them more? Why do you all see the speck that is in your [all?] brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Verse 4, how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye when there’s a log in your eye.” And like the cartoon says, whenever you’re pointing the finger at someone else, all that means is the log in your eye is bigger. But, ironically, this isn’t what Jesus said. When you look at it in the Greek, the Greek word is a little different. The Greek word for log, dakos, literally means a beam. It literally means a joist or a rafter. If you have a bedroom at home that is 12 feet wide, across the ceiling there are these boards that are 12 feet long. There is a 12-foot log piece of wood coming out of you. You can’t see a thing to honestly tell someone else about a speck that’s in their eye. You can’t see a thing. Jesus says, “You hypocrites. 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.” And here’s the reality about taking the logs out of your own eye. It will take you a while. It will require some work. By the time you get the log out of your own eye, by the time you’ve solved your problems, you probably will know a lot about helping somebody because you will have learned on yourself. Take the beam, the joist, the rafter out of your own eye first. That’ll teach you how to help someone else if is you fix the problem in your own life first.
The next verse might be a little hard to understand. It says, “Do not give dogs what is holy.” Here’s the problem if you start going around telling everybody what’s wrong with them. Sooner or later, you’re going to tell someone who will get really angry. You know it’s true. There is no reason why you, if you are aware of right and wrong, need to be victimized by someone who’s like a raging dog when you point out what they need to change about their own life. You should not be pointing that out until they’re ready, and what that means is until God tells you that it’s your job to explain to this person what’s wrong. And, friends, most of the time that we think it’s our job to explain that, just remember– I turned my thing off– just remember the previous verse doesn’t happen very often. But if you go around telling people what’s wrong with them, some of them will bite you. And if you go around throwing your pearls to pigs it’s not going to do any good. They’re going to ignore even the best advice you would give them. Not only that, they might trample the pearls underfoot and turn to attack you. So you’re better off not doing that. Don’t go there. Don’t go down that road. Now, let’s give ourselves a few tests. The reason that you’re not qualified is because inside of you, there is a lot of anger. Now, there are a few people in this room, they have very little anger in their life. That’s quite wonderful. But there’s a whole lot of people, we have been treated poorly. We have been done wrong. And we have put that down inside of ourselves. And so way down deep inside, there’s a whole lot of anger. And you remember Judge Judy? Whenever you bump into somebody who’s done to someone else what somebody once did to you, all of a sudden all that anger comes up and you want to hurt them.
Now, one of the most wonderful things that we have in our lives these days, if you’re on Facebook, is there’s a thing called clickbait. And what clickbait is is literally there are people who make thousands and thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands of dollars by making you angry. Because they post something up on the Facebook screen that makes you furious and you click on it and you give it attention and that lets them get money from advertisers. They make their money by telling you lies to get you angry. What they do is they hook your anger and you fall for this trap and you click on their thing. Well, you see, if you’re someone who does that, friends, me too. I’ve gotten better over the years at knowing when I’m being fooled, but it’s still my problem. Here’s how I know I’m being tricked. Whenever I feel myself getting more and more furious, the more I have to admit somebody’s probably pulling my leg. Somebody’s probably lying to me or I would not be so angry.
Whenever you feel the anger sweeping you away like that stream at [inaudible] Road, trust yourself to know that the thing that’s making you angry is probably not true. And if you take just a second to Google it, all of a sudden, 25 things will pop up telling you it’s not true. And they’ll be surrounded by hundreds of things telling you that it is true, but it’ll be by people. Not news organizations or newspapers or experts you can trust. But if your anger was always under control, then maybe you could judge. Maybe you could be a judge. But frankly, unless your anger is under control, you can’t be fair. That’s’ why you’re not qualified to be someone’s judge.
Here’s the next reason. Jesus said it, “You have a beam coming out of your eye. You can’t clearly see the problem.” And because you can’t clearly see the problem, and because you don’t always know when you can’t see, because you have blinders that are over your eyes. You’re not qualified to judge. You will only be qualified if you can hear both sides if you could see clearly what was wrong. And friends, human beings like us, most of the time, we don’t see clearly. You can pray. You can ask God to forgive you [inaudible] you of someone else’s problems, but most of the time, since you can’t see clearly, you’re not qualified to be someone’s [inaudible].
Finally, the great commandment says, “We’re to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.” I think we would all agree that it’s rather foolish to judge and criticize God. Most of us, when we hear the scripture, we understand what Jesus is saying. “Oh, I need to not judge this other person. I need to not be critical of another person.” Well, you are supposed to love your neighbor as yourself, but here’s something to think about, are you harsh and critical to yourself? The commandment says that, “You’re to love yourself as you love your neighbor.” Do you judge yourself? Churches are full of people who are kind to everyone in the world except themselves. If that’s you, remember, you need to not be judging yourself anymore. You need to not judge yourself. You need to not see all the flaws, be filled with criticism, blame yourself for every problem. What you need to do is turn to Jesus for help with all of it because, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t know anyone who might be harsh and cruel and unforgiving to themselves has ever become a better person. Turn to Jesus with everything [inaudible]. You need to learn how to love yourself.
Finally, judge not for this reason: Jesus wants us to follow him. Jesus wants us on a safe road, and it’s not always an easy road, but it is a safe road. And the only safe road is one where we are like Jesus because what Jesus wants from the people who follow him is that they would show mercy, not judgment. Remember, Jesus, who sat on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know what not they do.” [inaudible] on what to tell you, it’s a good thing that you do not have the power of a heavenly judge. It is a good thing that you and I are not powerful like God. In fact, I will tell you for myself, if I had God’s power to judge, I want to be very honest, the population of the world would be cut in half. There would be dead bodies everywhere because I am sick and tired of that person, and I am sick and tired of these people. And before you know it, my anger would rise up and I would kill the people that God wants to forgive. I am not qualified to be anyone’s judge, nor are [inaudible].
And here’s the thing Jesus says to warn people who are attempted by judgment, “As harsh as you are to someone else, that’s how God’s going to treat you. As cruel as you are when you treat someone else, that’s how God’s going to treat you. As judgmental as you are when you preach a sermon, when you talk with someone, that’s how God’s going to treat you.” So you have to ask yourself this question, do you think Jesus was kidding? It would be a dangerous thing for us not to listen to Jesus when he says, “Don’t go down this road.” Why? Because it’s dangerous for you to think that you’re better than anyone else. Don’t go there. Just don’t go there. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we are all so human, but you ask us to be more like you. Help us, Lord, to listen. Help us not to lose ourselves in comparing ourselves to others and finding fault with them. Help us, Lord, to look to you and leave behind our faults. Help us, Lord, to encourage others to look to you so that they can leave behind their faults. Help us, Lord, to understand that nobody ever left behind their faults because somebody was critical of them. Help us, Lord, to be more like you. Amen.
The grace that we experience