James Merritt - Flying Standby
So I want you to, in your mind, you're in church. Two 20-year old men walk into church, they're the same height, same weight, same build. First man that walks in, he's got this crisply starched long sleeve Polo shirt, freshly ironed slacks. He's clean-cut, fresh shaven, wearing shoes in the latest style, has a big smile on his face. Second young guy walks in, he's in a T-shirt, blue jeans, got more holes than pockets, he's wearing flip-flops, got tattoos on both arms. He's got a nose ring and orange hair. Now let's be honest, if you're honest, you would look at the first guy and say, "He needs to meet my daughter". You'd look at the second guy and you'd say, "He needs to meet Jesus". Well, here's what I didn't tell you about those two men, the first man that walks in, he's an atheist, has a live-in girlfriend and he's addicted to pornography. The second young man is passionately committed to Jesus, he lives a pure lifestyle, he wants to be a missionary.
Now what I just described for you is what young people, who are between the ages of 19 and 25 say are one of the top three reasons why they don't go to church, they don't like church, they don't believe in church, and they don't have anything to do with the church. David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons Wrote a book a few years ago, called "UnChristian". And in the book, the next generation were asked to give their perception of Christianity. The top three things they listed about Christianity, here's what came to their mind, Christians are anti-gay, Christians are judgmental, and Christians are hypocritical. Now, there's a reason why I use that example. Because almost 60% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have significantly altered their appearance at some point in their life. Tattoos, dying their hair a non-traditional color, piercing their body in a place other than an earlobe, and everybody carries some baggage with them, we all do. None of us grew up in a totally perfect environment. It doesn't matter.
Whether it was the cause of an inattentive father, an overbearing mother, or being somewhat lacking either in athletic skill or academic ability or maybe because of a physical imperfection, or being bullied, you talk to anybody long enough, including yours truly right here, we all have baggage that we need to lose. And Jesus deals with one of the major causes of why we have baggage, why we try to dump our baggage on somebody else. Because we've all sat in both seats, right? We've all sat in the seat of the judge, judging others, and we've also all sat in the seat of the judge. We've had other people judge us. And even though it's easier to judge than it is to be judged, the truth of the matter is Jesus said we should not be sitting in either seat. So, by the way, if you've left church because of somebody had an overbearing judgmental spirit, can I just begin to tell you I'm sorry? I wanna tell you that I'm glad you're listening to me right now. You've come to the right place because properly understood, I don't think the church ought to be a place where people come to be judged. I think it ought to be a place where people come to find grace.
Now, with that said, we also need to understand what the Bible does say, and what the Bible doesn't say about being judgemental. You know, you probably know that God has 10 commandments. And there was a time when you could put those commandments up in a courthouse or a school, and, you know, everybody knew what they were. Well, no more, can do it anymore. However, we are living in an age and a culture where America, and Americans have added what I call an 11th commandment. And it doesn't need to be put up anywhere because everybody knows what it is. I believe it's our favorite commandment. You may not see it on walls, but, you know, you may not see it hanging in office buildings or college classrooms, or schools, or country clubs anywhere around this country, but everybody knows what it is.
Here is our favorite commandment. You hear it repeated by somebody, somewhere, somehow, some place, every day. You ready? Here it is, you shall not judge. We hear it all the time. And frankly that idea comes right out of a passage we're going to look at today, in a Gospel called Matthew, the seventh chapter. Now I wanna be honest as a pastor, I believe the passage we're gonna look at, and particularly one verse, may be the most misunderstood, misused, and misapplied verse in the entire Bible. I call it the world's favorite Scripture. Even people who scoff at the Bible, and mock the Bible and make fun of the Bible and don't like the Bible, and reject the teaching of the Bible and ridicule the content of the Bible, they love this verse. They love to quote this verse. You probably have heard it. Matthew 7:1 judge not, that you be not judged.
Now, we know what Jesus said, unfortunately, most people don't understand what Jesus meant. And so knowing that, He goes on to explain what He means, and He has a message both for those of us on the inside of the church and those of us on the outside. So here's what may absolutely surprise you. I want you to imagine that Jesus is standing right beside me right now and we're doing a Q and A. And I say, "Jesus, I got a question everybody wants to know the answer to, should we judge or not"? Now the answer may shock you, 'cause here's what Jesus would say, "It all depends". What? Yeah, it all depends. Now if you've got some judgemental baggage you've been carrying around either because you're too judgmental, or because you refuse to receive any judgment at all, you might want right now to kinda wanna draw up a chair or throw your feet up on a stool, make a cup of coffee and listen up, because there is a way you can judge, without being judgemental. As a matter of fact, lemme say this, if you are really a mature believer, and if you really understand what God's Word says, you should judge without being judgemental. You say how in the world do you do that? Well you do it by taking three steps.
Number one, you eliminate improper judgment. You eliminate improper judgment. Now, let's start with a foundational statement, the most famous statement, the one that we all love to read and recite, right, judge not, that you be not judged. Now the word for judged there is a very interesting word. It's a Greek word, you don't need to remember this, it's a Greek word that they pronounce . And it literally means to discriminate, or it means to make a difference. Now, as you're going to see, judge here means this, it means to offer a criticism that is either unfair or unjustified, that's what it means to judge. You offer a criticism that is either unfair or unjustified.
Now, keep in mind that this verse is found on the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount. And these words were directed to the disciples of Jesus, He's talking to His followers. And here's what He was saying, "You guys and I have been spending my time with for three years, you guys I've been teaching and pouring my life into, you guys that I've been teaching you and telling you what it's like to be godly, and what it's like to be holy, you of all people, should be the least judgemental of people. Yet, you will battle being the most judgemental". And that raises a question, why is that? Why is it that the church has to battle being judgemental or not being judgemental? And why is it that people on the outside of the church don't see anything but a judgemental attitude?
Well, one of the biggest reasons is because we take our perception of what we think good people do, or even more to the point, what we think God's people should do, then we impose those perceptions on people who don't even believe in God. And that's the problem. And then what happens is this, those of us in the church get more concerned about the outside of a person than we do the inside of a person. For example, we don't like tattoos, then we judge people who wear them. If we don't drink, then we judge people who do drink. If we wear certain types of clothes to church, we judge people who don't. You need to realize, this is important now, there's a difference between confronting a sin and condemning a sinner. Because what you're gonna learn here in just a few moments is all judgment is not wrong. Not all judgment is wrong.
There's a way you can tell when you cross over the line from condemning a sin to condemning the sinner. When your standard of calling anything wrong is anything other than God's Word, then you're being judgemental. Lemme say that again. When your standard of calling anything wrong is anything other than God's Word, you are being judgemental. Now here's another one, when you judge motives rather than methods, you're being judgemental. You can judge actions, you can judge what people do and you should, but you can't judge motives, you can't judge why people do them. And see, when you judge people based on your opinions, your feelings, your self-made standards and you do it in a condemning way that's unfair or it's unjustified, you are being judgemental. Now, at the same time, you're, listen, this is so big, you're not wrong, listen, you are not wrong to judge others when God says others are wrong. When someone's doing wrong, according to God's Word, and you call them out for doing what's wrong, that is not being judgemental.
Lemme put it to you this way, it is never wrong to call wrong wrong, when God calls it wrong. I love that. It is never wrong to call wrong wrong when God calls it wrong. So, you can use, now listen, you can use the right standard and still be judgemental if you judge someone with the wrong spirit. Or you judge someone with the wrong motive. You just wanna play got-you with somebody. You know, if you're a parent, you can relate to this, sometimes if your kids were like my kids growing up, your kids need to be corrected, they need to be disciplined, because they have done wrong.
Well here's the important thing to remember, the purpose of that correction, the purpose of that discipline is to be constructed, not destructive. It is to be done in humility and love, not in anger and self-righteousness. That's what Jesus meant in verse two when He said this, he said, "For with the judgment that you pronounce you will be judged". In other words judgment, that kind of judgment's a boomerang, all right? "And with the measure that you use, it will be measured to you". Now here's all Jesus is doing, all right? He's applying what I call the golden rule of judgment. So before you kinda jump the gun, before you judge someone else, you ought to ask yourself a great question, I wish I had asked this question more in my life, is this the way I would want you to judge me? Is this the way I would want someone else to judge me?
So lemme put it this way, would you rather people form an impression about you, would you rather people form their opinion about you based on you at your worst, or based on you at your best? Would you rather people form an opinion and tell other people what they think of you based on your worst moments, or based on your best moments? That's why it's been well-said never mistake the moment for the man. Don't make snap judgements, don't judge by first impression, don't judge just by appearance. I read about the owner of a manufacturing plant and he decided to kinda bump, you know, jump in by surprise, kinda pop in by surprise and make a tour of the shop. So he's walking through the warehouse and he noticed there is this young man and he's standing outside the office with his hands in his pocket, and he's just kinda standing there and he's just not doing anything at all. So, this owner, this boss walked up to him and he's angry and he said, "Son, how much you paid a week"? And the young man kinda looked at him surprised, and he said, "Oh, about $800".
Well, the boss reached into his wallet, pealed off eight $100 bills, gave it to him and said, "Here's a week's pay, get out of here and don't you ever come back". He said, "Yes sir". So he walked out and took off and about that time the warehouse manager was standing nearby and just looking at the whole thing, you know, just blowing away. And so the boss walked over to him, he was hot. He said, "Aren't you supposed to be running this warehouse"? He said, "Well, yes sir". He said, "How long is that lazy guy been working for us and why have you been putting up with it"? And the manager said, "Boss, he doesn't work here, he just delivered a package, he's waiting on a receipt".
Now, here's the point, you can't judge a book by its cover. And you better make sure that you know what you're saying and why you're saying it and how you say it before you say it. So if you're hard on people, this is my point, if you're hard on people, people are gonna be hard on you. If you tend to be judgemental toward other people in the wrong way, people will be judgemental of you. If you don't show a lot of mercy to people, then people won't show a lot of mercy to you. And so you tend to be critical, this is important, you tend to be critical and negative around people, and when that happens, people will tend to be critical and negative around you. Because here's the thing I've learned, people are not dumb, and generally speaking, when people figure out how you see them, that's how they'll see you.
When people figure out what they think about you, that's, they'll think, "Okay, this is what he thinks about me". And this is what I've learned, you can never judge a person by what other people say about him, but you can judge a person by what he says about other people. Did you hear that? You can't judge a person by what other people say about him, but you can judge a person by what he may say about others. I love this poem about a man who died, and he went to heaven. And it went like this, I dreamed death came the other night and heaven's gate swung wide with kindly grace an angel came and ushered me inside and there to my astonishment, stood folks I had known on earth. Some I had judged and labeled as unfit and of little worth. Indignant words rose to my lips, but never were set free, for every face showed stunned surprise, no one expected me.
See, here's the point, judge not, that you be not judged. Eliminate proper judgment, that's step one. Step two, you participate in self-judgment. Okay, you eliminate unrighteous judgment, but you participate in self-judgment. Now Jesus asked two questions, He asked a why question, He asked a how question. And when these questions are correctly answered, then you can understand, okay, there is a way that I can judge without being judgemental. There is a way I can confront a sin, without condemning a sinner. So here's what He says in verse three, "Why do you see the speck that's in your brother's eye, but you do not notice the log that is in your own eye"?
Now 2,000 years ago Jesus had a great sense of humor, He was a great comedian in His own right. 2,000 years ago you would have been laughing your head off because the picture that He paints is hilarious. Here's a man staring down a splinter, just a little piece of a wood, he's staring down a splinter in one man's eye and he's got a two-by-four sticking out of his own. And the real irony here, that you don't wanna miss is this, do you know what a splinter is? What is a splinter? It's just a piece of the two-by-four. A splinter is just a piece of a log. So what Jesus really said we do is this, we have a tendency to criticize faults that we have in our own lives. If you think about, we tend to criticize in other people what is true about us. All right, lemme give you an example, have you ever noticed how gossips talk about people who gossip? It's interesting. Gossips talk about people who gossip. And many times somebody else's fault is just a chip off of your block.
So lemme give you a basic principle of human nature, and it's true of me, it's true of you, we tend to see a splinter in someone else's eye as a log, while we see a log in our eye as just a splinter. So, I tend to look at everybody else's faults with a microscope. I look at my faults with a telescope. Now I know what you're probably asking, saying, "Wait a minute, I gotta ask you, how could somebody possibly see a splinter in somebody else's eye but not be able to see the log that is in their own eye"? Well, the answer is easy, do you know why? Do you know why we're so good at seeing splinters in other people's eyes but not see the log in our own? It's real easy, 'cause we're not looking for logs, we're looking for splinters. You're always going to see what you're looking for and we're not looking for the plank, we're looking for the speck.
Now, I'm gonna be honest, I've pastored several churches, I have never pastored a church that didn't have what I call speck inspectors. I mean, every church has what I call splinter specialists. They're a part of a secret organization called the FBI, the Fundamentalist Bureau of Investigation and their spiritual gift is finding fault, giving criticism, passing judgment. Now when it comes to your faults, your failures, your problems, they've got 20/20 vision. But when it comes to theirs, they're as blind as a bat. And that's why all of us, you know, we all tend to see other faults of other people bigger than the faults that we have.
And the point that Jesus is making is, "Hey, the next time you start to judge someone, maybe you ought to start with yourself. The next time you start to look out the window, maybe before you do that, you ought to look in the mirror". Because here's what you'll find is true, if we judged ourselves more, we'd judge other people less. That's right, if we judged ourselves more, we'd judge other people less. So, lemme put it to you this way, if you wanna see what you look like, you look in the mirror. If you wanna see what somebody else likes, you look out the window. And what Jesus is simply saying is this, you gotta spend lot more time looking in the mirror than we do looking out the window.
So, lemme kinda put it to you this way, the next time you see a splinter in someone else's life, look for the log that is in your own, because remember, the splinter is just a piece of the log. What you see in others, is just a reflection of what you see in you. I heard about a little girl that was watching her mother do the dishes one evening, and she noticed that here mother had some white hair mixed in with some red hair. She looked at her mom and she said, "Mother, why are some of your hairs turning white"? And the mother, thinking this was a teachable moment, she said, "Well, honey, that's because every time you do something wrong and you make your mother cry or unhappy, one of her hair turns white". And the little girl thought about that for a moment and he said, "Well, mamma, then how come all of grandma's hairs are so white"?
See, never look out the window until you look in the mirror. You got it? So you eliminate improper judgment, you participate in self-judgment, but this is the surprising part, Jesus goes on to say but you validate righteous judgment. You validate righteous judgment. Now, verse five is the key to understanding the whole concept, listen to what he says. He says, "You hypocrite". Listen, here's what, He doesn't say, "You hypocrite, quit taking the spec out of other people's eyes," he doesn't say that, here's what he says, "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye".
Now, do you see that word hypocrite? Do you remember that hypocrisy was one of the three things young people thought about when they heard the word Christian? Do notice there what Jesus means by that word? Here's what a hypocrite is, you ready? A hypocrite is someone who always looks out the window but never looks in the mirror. They always look out the window, but they never look in the mirror. And notice what Jesus did, He didn't say, "You are wrong to look out the window," He didn't say that. What He's saying is always first look in the mirror. And the reason why most people misunderstood what Jesus said, is because they want to try to make Jesus say something He didn't say and then they don't hear Him saying something that He did say. Because there are two words I want you to circle in that verse, it is the word first and it is the word then. Those are the two keywords in that verse.
Now here's the problem, everybody wants us to remember the first word, the word first. They don't want to remember the word then, the then word. Here's what Jesus will say, "As you deal with other people, as you see them doing wrong, and you see them in need of correction, first look for the log, then deal with the splinter. First look in the mirror and then look out the window". So here's the point, contrary to what we've always, maybe, believed, or really thought, Jesus was not forbidding judgment, listen, that is done at the right time, in the right place, in the right way with the right spirit. As a matter of fact, you ready for this, one of the marks that you are a spiritually mature believer in Christ, is you know how to judge others correctly.
1 Corinthians 2:15, the Apostle Paul said this. He said, "The spiritual person judges all things". How about that? The spiritual person judges all things. See, it is not wrong to confront a person, if there's sin in that person's life. As a matter of fact, it's wrong not to do so, and deep down we know this. I mean, think about it, if you took this verse to its logical extreme, if it really taught what you thought it taught, then guess what, we wouldn't have judges who judge. We wouldn't have judges who pass sentences. We wouldn't have judges who incarcerated criminals, and guess what, if you don't have that, you've got anarchy.
I mean, what would happen to the rule of law in this country if everybody who sat on a jury decided, when it comes to a rapist or a child molester, or a murderer or a terrorist, what if they said, "Well who am I to judge? You know, judge not, that you be not judged, so I'm gonna let them go free". I mean, if we even really believe what we sow, if we're believe without that, we'd still have child labor, we'd still segregation, we'd still have discrimination. And, oh, by the way, we would have allowed Hitler to conquer the world. No? Here's the point, you cannot shirk either responsibility. We've got to always be looking for the log in our eye, but once we've dealt with it, we gotta be willing to deal with the splinter in someone else's.
So Jesus, again, said it best in John 7:24, listen to this, "Do not judge by appearances," no problem. "But judge," now He's telling us to judge, how? "Judge with right judgment". What does that mean? All right, lemme give you an easy example to remember, it is wrong to judge a tree by its leaves. It is never wrong to judge a tree by its fruit. You should never judge a book by its cover, but you should judge a book by its content. You should never judge a person by the color of their skin, but you should judge a person by the content of their character. You never force a person to be what you think they ought to be, but you owe it to that person to try and leave them to be what God wants them to be.
So, if you made yourself miserable and you made yourself unhappy, because you've gone through life being hypercritical, hypocritical, negative, self-righteous, holier than thou. How about losing that baggage today? If you've allowed someone to keep you from God and to keep you from God's family, and you keep you from God's church, because they try to take God's place as your judge. Why don't you do this, why don't you forget it? Why don't you forgive them? Why don't you drop that baggage?
So I want you to imagine, you've got a mirror in your hand right now. And you see your reflection. Here's my question, who do you see in that mirror? Do you see someone that's loaded down with a baggage of negativism toward others? Do you see someone who there is a log in your own eye that needs to be removed? Do you see someone in need of God's grace and God's forgiveness? Well, I wanna tell you, when you give your life to Jesus Christ, that reflection can change. Christ can change the man or the woman in the mirror. And I pray you'll let Him do that today.