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Jury Duty

Matthew 7:1-5



A man wanted to impress his friends w/ his eye for art as they went to a high society art gallery together / he forgot his glasses, was farsighted, and couldn’t hardly see his hand in front of his face / figured he could wing it with any observations he wanted to make / approached a frame and began criticizing:  ‘Why would anyone want to paint something so hideously ugly?  I mean, it’s a true rendering of the object, but why waste time w/ painting such a disgusting subject?’ / everyone was laughing by this time as his wife whispered into his ear, ‘John, it’s a mirror!’

Each morning we should look into the mirror of God’s Word!  And then we should let it render a judgment.  Give God permission to judge you!


Ever been called to jury duty?  Ever been asked to ‘make a judgment’ about a matter?  Some people/Christians seem to feel they are on ‘permanent jury duty’ as they go thru life judging others.  {Rachel Maddow} And Jesus addresses this fact in this final leg of the Sermon on the Mount. 


Recently 12 members of a Jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of the killing of George Floyd.  However you feel about it, that jury was sitting in a place of judgment.  And when you hear their verdict, undoubtedly you make a judgment of your own.


The military tribunal that tried Saddam Hussein had a judge.  He was sitting in the seat of judgment.  Saddam didn’t recognize him, the court, or the new Iraqi government.  He was saying, “You can’t judge me!”  And in so saying he was making a judgment.  And so are you, again, as you think about it.


So, what do we believe about this direct command in Matt. 7:1, to “judge not”?  In context, comparing scripture with scripture, what is the true interpretation of Jesus’ words here?  This is very misunderstood stuff…and many Christians overuse and abuse the words ‘don’t judge me’, in all circumstances.


We’ll break this down into 3 sections:  what ‘judge not’ does not mean, what it does mean, and how Jesus illustrated the principle He is teaching, to enlighten our understanding.


‘Judge not’ does not mean that it is wrong to judge doctrine, to see if it’s of God.


The Word of God is our final authority, and we are not to base our doctrinal beliefs on our own feelings, our own experiences, or what is widely accepted and politically correct.  We all have feelings and experiences, but they must pass the test of scrutiny when they are laid beside the Word of God.


The Bible time and again warns us not to believe everything we hear just because we hear it from a preacher, a church, or another Christian.  Don’t ever make the assumption that just because I preach something it must be so. 


The church at Berea was commended for searching the scriptures to see if they were being taught the truth.


Romans 16:17

    Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

*Now how can I obey that command w/out judging doctrine?


The theme of a new generation today in America is “tolerance!”  We’re considered out of line if we don’t put up with anything and everything that comes down the pike…and I gotta tell you…I don’t tolerate that well!


The Bible doesn’t teach tolerance when it comes to doctrine, it teaches scrutiny!

2 John 1:10

    If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:


Don’t invite them in…don’t wish them well, send them on their way.

*Now how can I obey that verse w/out judging doctrine?


Hebrews 13:9

    Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.


Ephes. 4:14

    That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;


So, ‘judge not’ is not applying to doctrine.  We should judge it.


Next:  ‘judge not’ does not mean we cannot judge teachers and preachers to see if they are of God.

Matthew 7:15

    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.


I cannot obey this command w/out judging.  And certainly I need God’s help in making this kind of judgment.


“Sheep’s clothing” means they will look, talk, and act like the genuine thing…so on what basis will I make this judgment?


v. 20 says their fruits will tell on them!


The Apostle Paul actually called some names one time:

2 Tim. 2:17-18

    …Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already…


Can’t you just hear some Christians at this point… ‘Judge not!  You don’t know their heart!’  That’s true, it’s by the outward fruit that the truth presents itself!


There’s a very gullible brand of Christianity that believes everything it hears as long as it’s on Christian radio / TV / or from a pulpit.  Well, Christians are children of light, and shouldn’t be so gullible.  “We the people!”


A third area is church discipline.  It’s not wrong for the church to, when necessary, exercise the very Biblical practice of church discipline.  You don’t see it happening much these days, but it’s still God’s way to deal w/ sin w/in the body.

Caution:  We are not to judge motives, but rather conduct.  One is inward and the other is outward.


Ill.—policeman pulls you over for speeding / you say, don’t judge me, you don’t know my heart, what I’m going thru today / he says, I’m sorry, but I’m not judging your motives, I’m judging your conduct.  [It’s concrete, not abstract, it’s objective, not subjective.]


Church membership must be taken seriously, and not entered into lightly.  I Cor. 5 is an example.  An outward, grievous sin is publicized, and it will damage the church if they don’t stand against it.  They are told to remove the person if he won’t repent, and Paul in v. 3 says he has already judged the matter!  [The church leaders have already attempted restoration using the Biblical method found in Matt. 18].


Point is:  Church discipline is almost unheard of today, being drowned out by the screams of ‘judge not!’

So, it’s not necessarily always wrong to make judgments.

John 7:24

    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.


Then what does ‘judge not’ mean?  The context gives it away…


v. 3          This is an unjust, critical attitude of hypocrisy.  Self righteousness leads to fault finding, and a hyper critical attitude that manifests itself in a derogatory, condemning manner.  These are they on permanent jury duty, approaching all of life expecting to find fault.  Usually these are under achievers, who haven’t done much w/ their lives, and haven’t climbed to any great heights, and so they perceive their own self worth by tearing others down to a level lower than their own, and suddenly they don’t feel so bad about themselves!


“Something’s wrong around here, and I’ll find out what it is if it kills me.”  This guy is new, and I don’t trust him.  Sure, we prayed, and God answered, but that same God has called me to just make sure He sent the right guy!

The self appointed ‘pastor police’ don’t stop w/ him, but move on to the deacons, teachers, anyone who sings a special or is recognized in any way!


They have a keen sense of ‘rumor’, and always seem to be ‘in the know’ about what’s the real truth they’re trying to cover up!

There’s nothing so unbecoming of a child of God than a critical, judgmental, negative spirit…always looking for what’s wrong.


Here’s 3 reasons why a negative spirit is wrong:

1.     99% of the time when we try to judge the heart and motives of another, we don’t know all the facts.  Again, God sees the heart [root], we do not.  But instead of looking at the fruit [outward] we take it upon ourselves to pull at the root, and we miss it!  “I’ve heard all I need to”, you’ll hear them say, because to look into the other side of the situation would risk the problem being solved…and them not being able to judge negatively!  We shouldn’t judge if we don’t know all the facts.


2.     We are fallible in our judgment.  When we attempt to judge in the way God reserves only for Himself, inward judgment, we are likely to be wrong.  It doesn’t take much character to criticize…any old buzzard can find a carcass!  Don’t put yourself in the place of God!


Ill.—one time Jesus sent messengers into Samaria to prepare for His arrival, and His messengers were rejected.  What did James and John say?  “Lord, should we call fire down from heaven and consume them?!”  They wanted to judge them right then and there.  Jesus replied w/ a rebuke, saying, you don’t know what manner of spirit they are of. 

Now, in truth, they may have been right in their assumption about them, and perhaps Jesus knew they were right, but He didn’t want them assuming a wrongful place of judgment that’s reserved only for Him.


3.     A negative spirit is wrong, because destructive criticism has a way of coming back on you. 

Ill.—boy found a cave / called out ‘hello’ / heard echo: ‘hello’ / was surprised there was a boy in there / ‘who are you?’ / echo / answer me / echo / I’m gonna get you! / echo / I hate you! / echo / …he ran home and told his momma about the mean boy in the cave / she knew it was an echo and said, ‘Son, why don’t you go back and say something nice to the boy?’ / he said, ‘I wanna be your friend!’ / echo / …life has a way of echoing back the kind of treatment to us that we give to others.  Sooner or later we’ll all be measured by our own yardstick.

This kind of negative spirit violates the golden rule:  Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you!


v. 2          Build yourself a reputation as a fault finder, and that’s exactly how others will deal with you.

Proverbs 26:27

    Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.


Ill.—successful, wealthy contractor had a faithful carpenter who worked for him for many years.  He always hoped for more money himself, or to someday become a contractor too.  One day his boss came to him and said, I’m going away on another project, but I want to put you in charge of a project in my absence.  I want you to build me a dream home…spare no expense, I trust your judgment, make it as nice as you can imagine…I’ll be back in one year to check it out.

He thought to himself, “The nerve of that guy…pay me peanuts all these years and then insult me by asking me to build his dream home.  I’ll show him!”  [He proceeded to do a shabby job with cheap materials that would fall apart in a matter of a couple years].  Contractor returned a year later and said, “It’s yours! You built it for yourself!”

You can build your life on the foundation of criticism if you want to, but sooner or later you’ll have to live in the house that you build.


We’ve seen what this verse does not mean, what it does mean, and now…

A final illustration:

v. 3-5       The hypocrite has a 2x4 sticking out of his eye, and all he can see is a speck of sawdust in the eye of his brother.  Jesus is using sarcasm here…and I imagine everyone laughed as He said it.  We need to start judgment with ourselves…examining ourselves first.  What kind of church could be built if Christians would be as hard on themselves as they are on each other!  Note:  Both objects were the same material…wood.  [‘It takes one to know one’…We easily recognize our own problems in others!] [We find them annoying because they remind us of ourselves.]

What you can so clearly see in someone else’s life you can easily overlook in your own.    

Our time is better spent dealing w/ our own shortcomings…and then we won’t have so much time to be tempted to focus on faults of others.

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