We love to judge.
The comedian George Carlin observes a universal rule of the road: Everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot. And everyone who drives faster than you is a maniac.
To the speeding driver, everyone’s an idiot. To the slow driver, everyone’s a maniac. But one rule applies to all: My speed is always just right.
We love to judge.
Do you remember the Internet Exporer hoax? It was about 5 years ago. The BBC, CNN, the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and many other news sites and blogs reported that Internet Explorer users are less intelligent than those using other web browsers. The report was based on a ‘supposed’ IQ survey of 100,000 internet users published on a Vancouver based website. It was quickly exposed as a hoax. But the real question is - why did this lie make such great news? Why did it find such instant and universal acceptance (amongst the web-savvy anyway)? Because we love to judge. I remember the warm glow i felt when i read the report! We love to feel superior. We love to judge.
Jesus Christ says:
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus says there are two realities you can buy into:
Judgement and condemnation or Giving and forgiving.
You can live in the law court - the realm of judgements, verdicts, condemnation. Or you can sit at the meal table - the realm of gifts and laughter and relationship.
Jesus tells us where God lives; the currency that God deals in. Verse 36: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
He is in the forgiveness game. What game are we in?
Ever since Adam, by nature humanity has been in the blame game.
As soon as sin entered in, man hid and sought to cover himself by his own efforts. The Lord came into the garden to expose him and, ultimately, to clothe him in acceptable coverings. Yet in his excruciating exposure man rejects the way of repentance and receiving. Instead he goes on the attack. Man blames the woman, the woman blames the serpent and (as the old joke goes) the serpent doesn’t have a leg to stand on. This has been the way of man ever since.
The blame game. Living in the realm of judgements and verdicts. Folding our arms, shaking our heads and saying ‘Shame on you.’
‘It’s Not me. It’s You.’
That’s what we’re like and Jesus says, v37:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Now, this isn’t about saying “Anything goes.” Refusing all judgements. This isn’t about pretending you’re blind to everyone’s faults. It can’t mean that because Jesus tells us at the end of v42 to see clearly and to seek to ‘remove (obviously very carefully) the speck from our brothers eye.’ And in the next few verses after today’s passage Jesus tells us to recognise what kinds of people we’re dealing with by their fruits. So Jesus still wants us to be discerning. But He wants us to stop feeling superior to other people. If someone else is going wrong in their life, don’t use it as an opportunity to score points, don’t use it as an opportunity to feel superior, use it as an opportunity to examine your own heart and recognise your own sin. Use it as an opportunity to pity them and show them mercy, to help them out of their sin. But don’t live your life in the bitterness of the judgement game.
Because If we play that game we will always lose.
If you live in the realm of judgement and condemnation you basically assume that everything is about verdicts being passed on ‘him’ and ‘her’ and you! And you feel like you’re in the dock and you don’t like being judged. So you fight back by pretending to be the Judge. You point the finger at your co-accused around you hoping that everyone will forget that you’re guilty. But there you are in the dock, feeling guilty and trying to shift the blame onto everyone else. You’ve bought into the blame game and it’s your element now.
If you play the blame game you’ll lose.
Jesus says these sobering words. doesn’t he, end of v38 “With the measure you use it will be measured to you.” .
Imagine there’s a new phone app and rather than recording every kilometre you travel or every calorie you burn, this app records every moral judgement you ever make about another. Each time you hold another person to account, each time you tell someone they mustn’t, each time you bemoan a colleague or institution it records your judgement. Imagine how big the file is going to be! Imagine the litany of judgements – dozens every month, hundreds every year, thousands in a whole life-time.
And then imagine that on the last day Jesus retrieves these recordings and hits play. Imagine hearing back every single time you’ve judged someone else. And then Jesus says to you: “Giles, I’m going to judge you by the standards you judged everyone else.” Do you think you’d come out of that judgement as anything other than condemned? If we play the blame game we lose.
Of course the real danger with judgementalism is when we don’t think that we’re judgemental. Everyone else is wrong. No-one else seems to care about the rules. Everything’s unfair. But I’m not judgemental. It’s those people over there…
No, if you’re like that you know what you’re like?… You are like, v41:
Someone who looks “at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pays no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother,`Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
It’s a crazy picture isn’t it? It’s the kind of the blindness that’s spoken of in verse 39. It’s a famous saying “The blind leading the blind.” But you know what makes these leaders blind? It’s not lack of knowledge. It’s judgementalism. Judgementalism blinds the world. And it stops you even making a right judgement. You can’t correct other people’s mistakes, which you claim to be so keen on doing. You can’t do it whileever you’ve got a plank in your eye.
But if you do understand your sinfulness, you can address your own sins in humility. And then you can offer help from a place of humility and contrition. That’s the starting point for being able to do the delicate operation of seeing and pointing out and seeking to help remove that painful speck of sawdust from your brother or sisters’ eye. That’s the starting point of being able to pray for another - humbly and effectively.
What will change our judgemental spirit?
Let me give you 4 things
three things that can help. But they won’t help unless you know the fourth thing. The first 3 solutions are what we should do, but we won’t do them unless we understand the fourth thing.
Firstly, laugh. Not at others, at yourself. This is what Jesus encourages with His humourous word pictures. This one - straight out of the carpenters shop where he spent so much of his early life. Jesus says, see the absurdity of your own smugness. Bring to mind your over-inflated sense of self and burst that bubble with a sharp dose of self-ridicule. What am I like? When i’m judgeing other people’s problems? I look like a human Dalek with a tree-trunk poking out of my eye-socket murmurring about the state of someone’s eye-grit. I am ridiculous and need to stop taking myself so seriously. Laugh at your self importance.
Secondly, get proportion! says Jesus. I have the plank. You have the speck. In every relationship that’s the proportion. The problem is 99% me, 1% you. Of course from your perspective it’s 99% you, but I leave that for you to figure out. My burden is the plank. Always. That’s my priority. And then i might be able to help with your speck.
Therefore, thirdly, every time I feel a critical spirit rising it’s an opportunity, not for pride, but for self reflection. When I see sin in others my response should not be “Phew, at least I’m not as bad as that!” It should be to question: “How is my sin reflected in this?” Perhaps I do the same thing. Perhaps I commit some equivalent sin – different action, same motive. Or perhaps my superiority complex is what needs addressing.
But the Fourthly Finally – here’s the thing that i must do if i am to have any chance of thinking to do the first three things:
Look at Jesus! Remember Jesus!
When He came among us, He was the only one to see clearly. He has no plank or speck in his eye. Being sinless He is the only human who has ever truly seen the human condition for what it really is – depraved, distorted, dead. And yet His response was not to fold His arms, shake His head and say “Shame on you.”
Instead - He opened His arms, bowed His head and said “Shame on me.” It’s astonishing grace. And it shatters our pride.
Jesus does not play the blame game with us. Isn’t that incredible? Here we are playing the blame game over trifling matters. He comes to planet earth and is the one person who could really condemn us but John 3:17 says He did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. He came and opened His arms to us and said “I know that you’ve sinned, come close.” He bowed His head to all the sins we’ve ever committed, He took them on Himself. And He said “Shame on ME.”
No shame for you – the shame went to Jesus.
If you are judgemental it’s because you’ve forgotten the cross. But if you remember the cross, how can you be judgemental?
Don’t live in the realm of condemnation and judgement any more. Jesus has come down into the dock and He has pulled you out, taken your place, carried your shame, dealt with it and deposited you at the Father’s side. Court is adjourned. There is NO condemnation for you. There is no heavenly finger pointing at you. When you look to heaven you don’t see a frown, you see a smile. You’re not in the dock. You live somewhere different now. At the meal table. In the realm of Giving and Forgiving.
Brewing beer begins with measuring out your different malts - different barleys and other grains that have been roasted and crushed and smell amazing.
Jesus makes reference here in v38 to the established process of measuring grain. The seller fills the measure 3/4 full and gives it a good shake to with a rotatory motion to make the grains settle down. Then he fills the measure to the top and gives it another shake. Next he presses the grain down strongly with both hands. Finally he heaps it into a cone tapping it carefully to press the grains together, from time to time boring a hole in the cone and pouring a few more grains into it until there is literally no more room for a single grain. In this way the, the purchaser is guaranteed an absolutely full measure; it cannot hold more. She holds out her robe which acts like a big pocket and the full measure is poured into her lap.
This is God’s giving and forgiving. A full measure! Everything that he could ever give - there’s no room for more. Poured out upon you.
Your heavenly Father has mercy on you. So now, deal in mercy. It’s the only power to change hearts and change the world.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.