May 5 2019 - Judging and Correcting
12th May 2019
Thank you for our time this morning and being able to take communion and worship you and to remember what you did. Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins, and that we’re forgiven. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are not condemned, and we are not guilty, thank you, ‘cause you took our guilt and our condemnation on yourself. Teach us now from your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Last week I kind of, at the end, went a little quickly on some things. And so afterwards, with some comments and questions, I thought I should go back and maybe readdress. So, that’s what we’re going to do this week. We’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount in Luke, and we closed with this verse.
6:41 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? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see 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 out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
He says, why do you look at the speck? We were talking about speck lookers, lookers for specks, or maybe a better way to say it is fault finders, people always looking to find fault with others. The problem with us, those people, is that we focus on what’s wrong with others and fail to examine our own lives to see our own faults and the logs that we have in our own eyes. What I believe to be true and have discovered to be true is that we are only able to be of help to others when we fully understand our own issues. We are only able to be of help to others when we fully understand and maybe acknowledge our own issues.
Fault finding is a personal problem for many, but I would say this. It is a general problem in our society, isn’t it? It is just rampant in our society, in our world. But, and this is the sad part, it’s also a problem in Christianity and in the church. I think sometimes the church and Christians, I don’t mean just our church but the big church, spends so much time pointing out how bad the world is, and of course the world’s bad. That’s what it’s supposed to be, right? It’s fallen. It’s under the dark powers. I mean, it wasn’t meant to be that way, but that’s its reality, but spending so much time harping on that and then failing to see our own issues and in doing that sometimes, we can fully lose our testimony ‘cause we all have our own issues, and church has its issues. Ask so many of you who left other churches ‘cause of injury from that church. You talk to so many church-going people, and you can find injury after injury after injury and even here, I’m sure there’s been plenty of injuries. We wound one another ‘cause we’re human.
Now, the other side of this, and this is where we kind of stopped, and I did not get into a full explanation, a brief explanation, is that there’s times where people must be corrected, right? There are times where we’re not necessarily looking at a speck. We’re recognizing something. Something’s going on and people need to be talked to. Often times, we’re afraid to do that or unwilling or whatever, probably afraid. Oh, I don’t want to tell him anything. Then, when we do that, we usually tell somebody else which usually compounds the problem significantly. Sometimes something happens, and we’re responsible to go to the person and say hey. So, I want to look at how we do that.
I mentioned a couple of these things last week, but we’re going to look at Galatians 6:1. Paul explains this very clearly how to do this. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. Okay, so the first thing. He says someone’s caught in a sin, and this word caught means to be trapped, held, bondage to a sin. He’s not saying that you are out there catching people in sin. That would be fault finding. This is not about fault finding. It is you come across a person who is trapped in like a burden, a trap, and they can’t get out, and they’re struggling to get out. That’s the first thing is it’s not fault finding. It’s not looking for specks.
Then, he says caught in a sin. You only correct when something is clearly sin. We talked a little bit about this last week. Let me say just because somebody is annoying or offensive or offends you does not mean they’ve sinned. Some people are just annoying and offensive. It’s their human nature, and it’s not necessarily sin. I mentioned last week, we don’t correct people for what we might call just bad decisions or unwise decisions. With their finances, maybe they’re making a few bad decisions. That’s not a sin. That’s just lack of judgment or understanding. Or, somebody’s running something. It may be a business, or it may be a ministry, and we think well, they’re sure not doing that very well. Again, it’s not a sin. It’s just the way they’re doing it. We don’t correct. So, what do we do in those situations? How do we deal with those? You know, I could really help this person ‘cause I’m an expert in this area. Here’s what I think we do, and Jesus explains this in Matthew 7 when he talks about the verses we’ve been looking at. What you do is, and I think this is really important, is you go to the person, and you ask them. You get their permission. You say hey, I have some thoughts about this. Could I talk to you about it? If they say oh yes, then guess what? You can talk to them about it. But, don’t assume that because you think you have wisdom on a topic or expertise on an issue that the other person has given you permission or is ready for you to talk to them. That is really important especially in this world. With Twitter and all these other things, we just think we’ve learned so much on the internet. Every conspiracy theory in the world, we’ve got ‘em down, and we’re going to tell everybody, and we’re going to spend our life miserafying every life by letting them know all the expertise we have discovered on the internet and YouTube videos. YouTube videos are great for fixing a washing machine or something else not so much for influencing people’s lives in a positive, healthy way, so you’ve gotta be careful of that.
We learned this with our kids. As they start to hit adulthood, you have to move more and more to getting permission to speak into their hearts. It’s really hard when your first and second and third and fourth child begin to hit adulthood, or however many you have, as a parent, when they start on their own to not want to get in there and say oh. Our second son John, when he and Beka had been married about a year and a half, they decided to buy a house. We thought well, okay. Maybe you should wait. Maybe you should think about this. You know how you are as a parent and all that. So, they bought this house, and then my son went out and he said, “Oh, I bought another one.” Oh, okay. “Yeah, we’re going to rent it.” Oh, okay, that’s good. That’s entrepreneurial. That’s good thinking. Then he, a few months later, bought another one. Oh, okay. Cindy and I are like what if nobody rents these? What if, you know the things that are going through our mind, and then he bought another one. Then we were like oh no, do we talk to him? Thankfully, we shut our mouths and said nothing because now he has a phenomenal business 10 years later. He knew what he was doing, and we did not. He knew exactly what he was doing. There are things like that, there are times we need to step back, allow people to go because they may know what they’re doing. If we are concerned, we ask. We get permission. Any of you that have grandchildren, you know what that’s like. You just want to tell everything they’re doing wrong. You can’t help yourself, right grandparents? Every grandparent is like yes.
It goes on, and here he tells us the goal. You who live by the Spirit should restore. The goal of correction is restoration not make a person feel bad, spiritual restoration in their relationship with God and personal restoration in their relationship with others. What the person needs is they need to be able to receive God’s forgiveness. We need to help them do that. Then, they need to receive and maybe seek forgiveness from others if their sins have affected others.
Then, he gives the manner with which we should approach. He says restore that person gently or with gentleness. To be gentle means to be considerate and thoughtful, but it does not mean to be weak. In our culture we can think of a gentle person as a weak person. No, the definition of gentleness here in the Bible is strength that accommodates to another’s weakness. A gentle person is strong but has learned how to accommodate himself or herself to the weakness of others. Maybe to put it this way, we need to help other people who are in need of correcting or whatever in a way that is helpful for them. Now, we might think oh no, the way to get this corrected is, here’s how I would do it. But, you are to accommodate the weakness of the person you are helping, to the weakness of that person, so do it in such a way as is most helpful for them not most helpful for you ‘cause our tendency is to think well, this is how I would want it done, so I’m going to do it this way, and that can be a mistake.
Then, he talks about humility. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. When we go to somebody, we need to see that could be me. We are all capable of things, all of us. It is only God’s grace that keeps us. We are all capable of really messing up, and we need to have that attitude. Once we lose that attitude, that’s when we’re most seriously tempted to fall. We’re in the most precarious situation when we think no, I couldn’t do that.
Then, he says in verse two, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. I mentioned this last week, but when we go to a person to correct them, we must understand that from that point on, we have a responsibility to carry that person’s burden until they can carry it. It says at the end for each of us should carry your own load until they can carry it themselves. If that’s six months, two weeks or 10 years, you’re going to walk with them through the situation.
Now, we’re going to do the other verse that we looked at. It’s Luke 6:36, Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. We talked about merciful last week, and then I skipped 37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you will be pardoned. I skipped that just because of time last week. What I would like to say is the do not judge and you will not be judged. In Matthew’s version it’s do not judge so you will not be judged. I would say this is probably one of the most misused verses in the Bible. It’s misused in two ways, and they are opposite ways it is misused. The first way you’re probably all going to agree with when I say it, but this is one of those traps that you don’t want to step in. The first misuse of this verse is when people use do not judge and you will not be judged to excuse genuine sin, and that happens a lot. All of us have probably experienced that where somebody uses this verse to kind of excuse away something that is genuinely wrong and sinful. So, that’s obvious, and we know that. The second way is very subtle, and this is the way we have to be most concerned about here in this room. That is when, and this is what I’ve noticed, and I’ve been guilty of this too. When this verse is brought up or a teaching is done on it or somebody quotes it, some of us will immediately, what will come to our mind and what we will ask is this. Well, what about judging rightly? Don’t we have to judge between right and wrong? Of course, the answer to that is what? Yes, we have to judge between right and wrong, and there are plenty of verses in the Bible that talk about judging between right and wrong, so what’s the problem with that? This is where the toes start to get stepped on. Here it is. Jesus isn’t talking about that at all in the Sermon on the Mount. That’s not what this is about. It’s not talking about judging between right and wrong here. There are different forms of the word judge and judgment in the Bible, and all of these are this negative do not judge and do not condemn that Jesus is talking about. He never moves to the other side purposely because he doesn’t want to let judgers off the hook by saying well, you’ve gotta judge rightly between right and wrong, and that’s the natural tendency, to let ourselves off the hook. But, he specifically does not do that here.
Here’s a little definition of what he’s doing here. The judging and condemning he’s talking about is the personal evaluation of another person’s life for the purpose of finding fault, criticizing and pronouncing them guilty. That is all these verses are saying, these words are saying, throughout these passages. He’s talking about doing that, and there’s only one person who has that job. It is God, and only God has that job. Jesus is saying here we never step, at least in these passages. Yes, there are other passages that talk about judging between right and wrong, but this one does not. It specifically does not. Both of these passages in context are followed by the verse about the log in your eye. So, what he’s saying is when we jump immediately well, we gotta judge between right and wrong. He’s saying I think there might be a log in your eye if that’s what you’re doing, a log of judgment that you’re not seeing in this situation.
Then, in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. We’ll say, “for in the way you judge,” see it’s in the way you judge you will be judged, but that’s not what he’s saying. We think if you judge rightly then… No, he’s saying you are judging and condemning and finding fault and pronouncing guilty, so in that way, that’s how you will be judged. You will be condemned and fault will be found with you if that’s the way you go about it. We tend to judge to manipulate other’s behavior. That’s our goal. We want them to behave the way we want them to behave. It’s also a great control mechanism. Judging is a great way to control people and also shaming of others. If you ask what about right judging, I will say there’s plenty of other passages on that, and that’s time for another sermon not this one. You can’t talk about everything.
We’re going to stay with this because I’m going to read what Paul has to say about judging, and we’ll kind of finish off with Paul. Romans 14:1, it says, Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. Don’t judge again. Now, what is he talking about here? When he says weak in faith, it’s important, he’s not talking about people who have doubts or who have questions or who have fears. That would be what we tend to think. Weak in faith is someone who’s really not sure. No, no, no, what he’s talking about is this. He’s talking about people who believe their faith does not allow them to do certain things that others are free to do. That’s what it means to be weak in faith. To have a faith, a conscience we might say, that doesn’t allow us to do certain things that we see other Christians doing. I can’t do that. Then, he gives an example of it. He says in verse two, One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. Now, these are, what Paul will talk about, disputable matters in chapter 14. He does it in 1Corinthians 11 and 12 or 10 and 11. I forget which ones. They’re disputable matters, but they’re not trivial matters. That’s very important.
Now, we think of this as a vegetarian story, and it has zero to do with being vegetarian. Let me tell you how big this is. This was in Rome where there was a large Jewish population, and many Jewish people came to faith in Christ, and then many Gentiles came to faith in Christ, and they were all stuck together to form a new family from totally, totally different backgrounds, really, really different way of looking at life. The Jewish Christians, and Paul said it was fine and good for them, were still trying to keep kosher we might say. They wouldn’t use that same word. Their conscience would not let them eat certain things. The problem was in Rome, it would have been close to impossible to find meat to eat that was kosher or that wasn’t used in the temple. So, what certain Jewish Christians did well, we’re not even going to take a chance of offending our conscience. We’re not eating any of it. I was having a hard time finding one for today. But, if you go back 40, 50, 60 years, and this is still true today, but it was really true then, let’s say something like, of course, we all remember the rock music thing. When the 70s and 60s when rock music was brought in. People put a drum set in the church. It was like oh gosh, lightening was going to burn the church down. We think that’s a little silly now, but it happened. Alcohol, today it’s probably not as big, but there’s some who still, it is big. I don’t mean about addiction. That’s a whole different thing. Having an addiction is a big deal. But, for some, it is a big deal in their faith that they should not drink any alcohol at all. And, 50, 60 years ago in the church, that was enormous. For others, it’s not a big deal. The Bible says don’t get drunk. Okay, we know that part, but it’s disputable if you can have a glass of wine at a meal or something. What I would say is, for some today, that could be a big issue. This was much, much, much bigger. This was about who could be in the community and who could not. He says that the strong are not to hold with contempt those who do not eat. Contempt is to put down and to look down upon and to consider a lesser Christian or not Christian at all. It was an issue where some would say well, you must not really be a Christian because of your practice.
I’m just coming up with some ways that this might happen today just to give us some practical things. What I want to say about these ways, they’re all ways that there are two different opinions on these issues in the Christian world. Strongly different opinions by good Christians held on each of these issues I’m going to mention. I have friends who hold strongly different opinions on these issues that I’m going to mention. I didn’t choose any of them specifically. There’s dozens and dozens of these, and I just kind of picked them out. They may mean nothing to me. They may mean a lot to me. I’m not even going to tell you because that’s not the point. The point is that we live in a world where there is a lot of contempt. People regard other people with contempt like lesser human beings, and it has so infected the church that we think of somebody because of what they believe, the opinion they have about certain issues, they are lesser Christians. That’s what Paul’s getting at here. But, we think well, this is just about vegetarians. No, these are huge. Let me give you a few.
First, I think Christians regard other Christians with contempt on certain disputable but not trivial social and political issues and their perspective on them. I could list 30. We’ll be here all day. I’m not going to go into any detail. I just chose three and for no reason. Just because I did.
The environment and global warming let’s say. There are good Christians who love Jesus, are committed to the gospel and his word who disagree on a Christian’s response. I just looked at a blog today. It said Does Your God Recycle? That was the title of it, very clever. You can’t get anyone to look at your blogs unless you are really on the extreme here with titles. I don’t mean to say who cares, but what Paul is saying here, because he talks about some other issues, he’s saying okay, some believe this, some believe that. Here’s the problem, and this is the problem today, is some who believe this or believe that hold this person with contempt or they hold that person with, they think of them as lesser because of their belief. We use words today for it. We call people liberal or fundamentalist. Those used to be good words in the Christian world. Today they are swear words if you call somebody that. You don’t want to use those words today.
Here’s another one, gun control. There are good Christians who have different opinions on that. Whatever your opinion is, Paul would say you hold it, but don’t hold the other person with contempt as someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about because they will have good, Biblical reasons for their position.
Another one might be immigration. The contempt on the two sides of this is unreal in the Christian world.
Then, we can go to theological issues. This one you’re probably thinking where in the world did this come from, but if you spend any time delving into the world of Biblical scholarship, this is enormous. I’ve come across it. It’s the theological concept of what is the full meaning of the atonement. There’s about five different perspectives on this. Good Christian scholars who love Jesus and are committed to his gospel and they write a book, and then the other side or one of the other sides writes a book against their book, and I’ve been to conferences where they speak against the other person’s book and waste all of our time. It’s unreal.
Here’s a practical Christian theological one. Women being ordained in the ministry. There are two sides on this one in the Christian world. Good Christians who love Jesus who love the gospel and are committed to it, and boy, they each say to one another they must not love Jesus or the Bible.
We could just go on and on and on about these things. We need to be careful. Paul calls these disputable not trivial. What if we think well no, I’m right on that one? Both the eaters and noneaters believed they were Biblical to the core, both. Paul will go through, and I’m not going to go all through Romans 14, but the entire chapter he will go on, and he will say okay, hold to that. Hold to your conviction. Hold to it faithfully. Just learn to not judge and hold your brother… He will say here, let me finish it here, 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. When you are judging somebody because of their view on this that or the other, you are judging the servant of God. God’s anointed one, and we don’t wanna judge God’s anointed ones ‘cause then we’re judging God. Not such a good thing. Notice how we can be the strong on some issues but the weak on others. The person who says I cannot drink alcohol, in this context, is the weak person. Not because they’re lesser of a Christian or anything like that. It just simply means there are things that their faith does not allow them to do that others may be free to do. So, it’s not weak in the sense of you’re lesser or you doubt. Paul is just talking about people whose consciences won’t let them do certain things. Not only do the strong judge but the weak. Then, he goes on. He says they judge. What the weak say is oh, you’re just compromising with the world by listening to rock music and having drums in your church. You should have seen in the 70s when we put jean covers on our Bibles and wrote in them notes. We were defaming the word of God by doing such things. He goes on. He says this, 5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. There’s days and Sabbath. Sabbath, an enormous issue for the early church. When we talk about Sabbath, we talk about going out and playing golf and having a day, going to church, but it was huge for them.
What he does next is he tells us the way we ought to view one another. He says this, Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He wants us to have convictions. He just wants us to treat people with different convictions in the church with respect and acceptance. I highlighted “for the Lord”, so we could read it together. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
When there’s others with views that are different, and we think no, no this is right, we need to turn… Again, it’s not for this service and this sermon, but there are times when something is clearly sinful and wrong, but we’re not talking about that in this sermon. It’s important that we don’t go to that. There’s another time for that. But, when it’s some of these issues which… Women in ministry, churches and people have very strong opinions and convictions on that that differ. But, we need to go back and say they do it for the Lord. It’s for the Lord. Different issues on immigration and different opinions on how it should be dealt with, it’s for the Lord. We could go on and on.
I’m gonna close with this verse. I was reading through Romans, and then I saw this. I thought wow. I’ve never seen this before for some strange reason. It says this. This is how he closes off this entire discussion on personal conviction and conscience and these disputable issues. Romans 14:22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. This is the verse for social media. This should be the social media mantra. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by what they approve. Now it is important to have private discussions and personal discussions on many of these issues, but they should be done civilly, thoughtfully, without contempt or judgment. We should seek to listen and seek to understand. And then, in these discussions, we need to have the attitude and must have the attitude that this person with a different opinion has this for the Lord, for the Lord. Let’s pray. Lord, thank you. Thank you that what we do we do for you and only for you. Lord, we’re all trying to get it right. We’re trying to be faithful to you entirely. Some things we will get it right. Other things we will think we have it right, and we’ll find out we didn’t. That is all okay because we’re doing it all for the Lord. In your name we pray, Amen.