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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - Who Am I to Judge?

Mike Novotny - Who Am I to Judge?

Mike Novotny - Who Am I to Judge?
TOPICS: Trends vs. Truth, Judgment

Imagine if every mom and every dad would only focus on their own behavior and never judge their own children. Moms, dads, what do you think about that? You know, little Billy, smacking little Johnny in the face. And mom says to dad, "Should we judge him"? And dad says, "Who are we to judge"? Literally, half the siblings in the world would be dead if parents didn't step in and say, "No, stop it"! If want to judge between... You know, we know that parents need to judge. Can you imagine if like someone was trying to rob you and you ran past a policeman sitting there with weapons to defend you. And you said, "He's trying to rob me"! and the cop said, "Who am I judge"? Like, no, no, no, no, you want the people in authority to say, "Some things are good. Some things are bad. Some things are right. Some things are wrong".

And even though we're very imperfect people, we need to step up and we need to judge. I mean, can you imagine if you went to a church and, like, my job, was never to say anything direct to you and you were not allowed to say anything critical of me? Some of you know we have heartbreaking documentaries of things that people like me were doing, stealing money, hurting children. Imagine if no one cared about that or said anything about that or directly judged that, that doesn't work. So, it sounds kind of nice when you say it, "We're all humans, we're all sinners do not judge". Right? Just like Jesus said. But you think it through a little bit more deeply, it just doesn't work, it doesn't work in culture, it doesn't work in the church, it doesn't work in families or marriages. So, what are we supposed to do with this whole thing of judgment? That's what I want to tackle with you today and I want to start just basic level. Defining what the word "Judge" means.

So, if you're at home taking notes or you have a bulletin in your hands, write this down. The word "Judge," literally, according to the dictionary means to form an opinion about something. So, if you have an opinion, you are a judgmental person. If you think that preschool teachers are saints, and that people who assault other humans are sinners, you are being judgmental. And I applaud you for it. In fact, this dawned on me. Every time you pick an emoji you are being judgy. Thumbs up is your opinion about something. Thumbs down, that's also an opinion, the smiley bright yellow face, that's a judgement. The scolding angry red face, that is also a judgement. You can't get around it, every time you say, "Good, bad, right, wrong, love it, hate it, keep doing that, stop doing that". You are being... There's no way for any human being to be judgmental all of the time.

Alright, so, "Do not judge," might sound like, "Oh, yeah, you shouldn't do that". But you can't get away from it. This happened to me and my daughter the other day. I was tucking my youngest daughter into bed, and I just said something like, "Wow, your room is really messy today". And she said, "Dad, this is a judgement free zone". To which I said to her, "Then why are you judging me"? She said, "I'm not judging you". "Well, you're saying that my comments that your room is bad is bad. So, you have an opinion about my comment that makes you judgmental". She said, "Stop it". I said, "You're doing it again. You're being judgmental". There's no way around it. if I say that your lifestyle is sinful, I am being judgmental. And if you say to me, "You shouldn't say that".

You are also being judgmental. There is no way to not have an opinion about all of the things. And so, when people use this phrase, they're kind of dodging the real question. Because we have opinions, we all think that some things are good, that some things are bad. That some people should keep going and other people should change. The question is, "How do we do this the way that Jesus wants"? I think a good summary is what Jesus said in John 7, have you heard these words? Jesus once said to his followers, "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly". So, there's a bad way to judge, Jesus says, "Stop that". And his answer isn't, "Well, then don't judge". His answer is, "But, here's what I want for you to do, judge correctly". Make distinctions, form opinions in a way that is good in the eyes of God.

Alright, so I'm going to give you a crash course on what the Bible teaches about judgement. There's four parts to it and I'm going to give you the four parts right up front, so write these down. Alright, according to the Bible these 366 passages. The right way to judge, judging Jesus's way starts with God, then you, then us and finally grace. God, you, us, grace. God, you, us, grace. That's how you judge correctly according to Jesus. So, part one, God, what does that mean? Here's what it means, you can write this down. God means to judge by God's opinion instead of a human opinion. If you're going to say to someone, "The way you're living is beautiful. Or the way you're living is sinful". Just make sure that your opinion comes out of God's heart and not just your own heart. If you know much about the life of Jesus this is what the religious leaders of Jesus day got wrong all the time.

Right, the Pharisees, that was the primary group, they were the often very Pharisee-ee towards Jesus. There's this one time where they watched Jesus's friends and they're not apparently following the right tradition and the right way to wash your hands, and they go off on Jesus. "Why don't your followers follow the traditions, the rules, the way that we do things? They're bad". And Jesus turned right around and said, "You're bad". And here's why he said that Matthew 15, Jesus said, "They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules". How about this, some people think that when you come to church to worship Jesus you should dress up. Alright, if Jesus is the king of kings and Lord. If you had a chance to meet the president, would you wear a sweatpants?

Alright, if you're going to a family wedding, you rock the sandals, the flip flop, like no, you would dress up. And if we're here to worship the king of kings and the Lord of lords, you should dress up too. And other people would say, "Well, no, because you don't have to impress God. you can wear a sweatpants, God doesn't care. He's a good father, his love isn't based on, like, the kind of fabric that's covering your legs". So, dress up, not dress up, what's the right things? And God says, "I don't care". There's no passage about denim, belts, suits, sweats. I looked at the Hebrew and the Greek, there's nothing. God says nothing, he says, well it doesn't, I think he means, wear pants like human, make sure you're appropriately dressed. But how you dress, he simply doesn't care. But you what, he does care about the heart that is beneath your shirt.

Right, if you're rocking stretchy pants but your heart is sincerely here to follow God. And if you're the best dressed in the place, but you're looking around judging people instead of thinking about Jesus. Let's not get distracted on the things that God says nothing about. Let's focus our attention on the things that God says a lot about. Or how about the size of a church, some people think that really big mega churches are too big. You're just a number, it's stadium full of people, pastor doesn't, that's bad. And other people say that really, really small churches are too small. You know, everyone knows everyone else's business, that's bad. Do you know what the Bible says about the size of a good church? Nothing. God doesn't say, "Oh, no, you're in the too small zone and this is the too big zone. Here's the goldy locks zone for God". He doesn't care if there's five of you or 5,000 of you.

What does he care about? The way the who join a church treat one another. Alright, are we clothed with compassion and kindness and hospitality and forgiveness. It doesn't matter the number, it matters the character. Don't get distracted by the things that God doesn't speak about, focus on the things that he does. Or to make it more personal, some of you, I've heard this, some of you think that I should preach longer when I'm in church. Some of you drive a long way to hear the word of God, you don't want to short, you think I should preach longer and others of you agree. No, I'm kidding about that one. But am not kidding about this one, humans tend to value their own opinions too much. Let's make sure, if we're going to judge, that we start with God. Which brings us to part two, you. What does that mean?

Write this down. According to Jesus and the Bible, this means that you should judge yourself first. It's actually the context of that famous passage, "Do not judge". If you would keep reading you would find out that Jesus is saying, "Don't go off judging them before you start with you". I'll prove it, same chapter, Matthew 7, Jesus said this in his conclusion. "first take the plank out of your own eye," like this big sin that's in your head. "first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye". So, here's a big question for you, I want you to think about the kind of voices that shape you during the week.

Friends you're going to hang out with, the podcast you listen to, the radio stations the cable news. Just think who those voices are and then ask yourself question, "Do they do what Jesus said"? When that cable news show comes on, whatever side of the aisle it's on are the first ten minutes honest confession about what we republicans or we democrats have done wrong. And you wonder why the country is like this. When your friends get together and you talk about marriage or relationships, your family or your parents it's the part one of that conversation, like, "Here's what I really need to own that I didn't do Jesus's way". I think so much of the disunity in the world today is because we're skipping this part. They're valid things to critic and judge but we jump right to it as if we've never done anything wrong. And Jesus knows. What do you thinks going to happen if you have a two by four sticking out of your face and you're trying to pick out the spec, people are going to get hurt. So, start with God and then take a long, long, long time to stand in front of the mirror and think about you.

I love the story of G.K. Chesterton, have you heard it? But a hundred years ago when the world wars are blowing up the world a newspaper asked its readers, "What's wrong, what's wrong with the world"? People are at each other's throats; people are dropping bombs and G.K. Chesterton, this famous Christian writer, he responded with a brilliant answer that only took him eight words. What's wrong? His answer, "Dear sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton". What's the biggest problem? This Christian said, "It's me". And if you take that to heart, you will be judgmental in just the right way. Start with God, move to yourself. Which brings us to part three, Us. What does this mean? I mean that according to the Bible, Christians are supposed to judge fellow Christians.

So, we might not agree with the way people live out in the world; people over there, neighbors, family members, governments, right? There's a right and wrong that they're committing, but that's not our focus, that's not really our business. Instead, we turn inwards, and we think about us. Here's a passage to prove it. 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul, he's writing to the Corinthians whose culture was all jacked up. And he said, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside". Here's what you should do, "Expel the wicked person from among you". And I'll be impressed, any of you history buffs know who the Roman emperor was when Jesus was preaching and teaching? His name was Tiberius. He was a classic Roman who worshipped many, many, many different Roman Gods. And he wasn't just like, way, way far away over in Rome and Jesus is here in Israel.

When Jesus was doing his ministry on the shores of the sea of Galilee, do you know what the biggest city just to the south of him was named? Tiberius. In fact, the who sea of Galilee had a nickname that you can finds in the Bible. It was also called The Sea of... Tiberius. But despite the name of the sea and the name of the city, do you know the one guy that Jesus never went off on in his preaching? Tiberius. Not 'cause Jesus agreed with him. Instead, what do we find time and time and time and time again in the teaching Jesus? The church, the temple, the religious leaders, his own followers. You would think Jesus would have had more material for a guy who is worshipping many pagan gods, breaking the first commandment every morning, noon and night but instead of focusing on that, Jesus focused on his friends, on his church, on those who claim to follow the God of Israel.

And it's really important for me and you too. Jesus wants our time to be focused on us. If you see someone here who claims to follow Jesus and is doing something great, judge them. That's great. Share your biblical opinion that what they're doing is good and godly. And if they're not, if they're drifting and if they're sinning and they're not taking that seriously, judge them. Tell them, "Nope, if you're going to be a follower of Jesus you kind of got to follow Jesus. If you're going to call him your king and your savior, you can't live however you want". So, whether it's good or it's bad, whether we are applauding or critiquing what Jesus wants us to do is have the kind of church where we judge each other often. And when you're trying as hard as you can and you're seeing good changes in your life we think it is our job to say, "Amen. Well done. Keep at it". That is a judgment-filled church and it's exactly what all of us need.

So, I want to challenge you in the next month to judge a fellow Christian. Grab your Bible, open it up, if you see a woman respecting her husband with her tone, with her words pull her aside and say, "That was so biblical and so beautiful, well done". That's judging. If you use a guy who puts away his phones so he can be a glimpse of God the Father to his little kid. If you see a man taking a kid, change the diaper, running around in the baseball fields, like, investing his full attention, say, "That is just like God". And if you have to correct someone from a distance, you just see, like, they're taking sin lightly. And you have to with humility and respect say, "Hey, I struggle with this too but what you're doing is not okay".

That's why God gave us the book. The answer is not to send me an email and say, "Pastor, get 'em". You go judge them; I don't want to. Now, when you do life with people close together. And if and when our church gets bigger and bigger, I can't do this we need you to do... You see people's good works and sins up close. So, have the courage to do what God calls you to do. Rebuke, correct, forgive. With an open Bible let's judge us, just like Jesus wants. You, or I should say God, you, us, which brings us to our last point, it's called, "Grace". I saved the best for last. Here's what that means, it means in the Bible, God's judgment is always pointing towards grace. The end goal and the hope of God's judgment and our own is grace. The opinion that we want to share before we say amen, is a word of grace.

Whether we're encouraging you or confronting you our hope is always get back to the undeserved love that we call grace. A couple of dozen of you in church today have been in the life group with me. And if you've sat around that table with an open Bible, you know that I love, love, love to be judgmental. Here's what happens, someone, because we try to create a culture of honesty and confessions. Someone will say something very vulnerable and very transparent; they mess something up and it's difficult to say. And there's those moments, I've had hundreds of them, where it gets really quiet in the room and we're trying to think of what to say to someone's really honest confession. And you know what I say, right? I say, "Hey, you know that God loves right"? Hashtag, "You got judged".

Here is what God says, he has an opinion about those who honestly confess their sins, in his opinion, it's love. He has something to say with all authority to people who come to him in repentance and what he says is forgiveness. Like, you might be a train wreck, your life might be a mess, your sin might be embarrassing but when you come to God, the opinion that you and I get to share is the same opinion that God shares with us in his word: grace, love, forgiveness, salvation. What we have in Christianity is something the world does not have. I mean, if you confess your mess out there, what would they tell you? "Try harder. I still like you". What do we get to say as Christians? "You know that God loves you, right? you know that Jesus died for that one too, right? You know that as far the east is from the west, so far has God removed that from you, right? You know the God who loved you yesterday before you did the sin is the same God who loves you today, right"?

And you might call that preaching, you might call that teaching, what the Bible calls it is, grace. And friends, this is exactly what Jesus lied and died and rose to give you. Two thousand years ago on that cross, Jesus was judged so that your judgment would be different. On that cross, Jesus was called all kinds of ugly names. So that God could look at every Christian and call them beautiful names. On the cross Jesus was accused of a thousand thing he did not do so that our heavenly father would not accuse you of the 1,000 things you did. On the cross, Jesus was treated like a sinner so that now God could judge every Christian as a saint. On a cross, the skies grew dark, and God turned his face away.

So that now, if you are a Christian, the skies part and God's face is beaming on you, shining upon you with love and affection. Everyone ignored and insulted Jesus on the cross, but because of Jesus, God does not ignore you and he does not insult you instead, he smiles and says, "Yes, I have an opinion about you, I like you. I love you. You're my kid, my son, my daughter, my friend, my treasure, my people". I love how Jesus himself put it in the gospel of Luke, he said this, "At that time they will see the Son of Man," That's Jesus, "Coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place," Here's what you do, "Stand up, lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near".

Don't run and hide from the judgement, don't cower and bury your face in your hands. You stand up, you lift up your head, you get as close as you can to the one who is about to judge you because he has an opinion about you. And that opinion is love. God, you, us, grace. God, you, us, grace. Can you say it with me? God, you, us, grace. One more time God, you, us, grace. That's how you judge right, until you judge Jesus's way, that's how you judge beautifully. Let's pray:

Oh, God, I can't wait to be judged. This world judges us so poorly, so often. Our own hearts and thoughts can condemn us when we're not condemned. You are the only one who judges correctly constantly. And so, I can't wait for you to come. You're going to make all things right. You are going to come with justice and evil will not prevail but those who come to you humbly will. Father, we live in a confused culture, no one wants to be judged but we know we need judgment. People are constantly pointing fingers, but they have an allergic reaction when the finger is pointed at them. We really need you to make this right and we want you to start right here. God, give us the humility to trust your word and open this book. Give us even more humility to take its words seriously and personally. Create in us the gift of repentance that we would feel sorrow over our sin, more sorrow for that than the frustration we have with other people's sins. God, give us courage and lips to speak words when we see things good and bad happening in our church. And God, never, never, never let us end with a law but instead with the gospel of your amazing grace. Church is a beautiful place not 'cause it's easy or comfortable but because grace always gets the final word. So God fill us with joy and give us peace as we think about your judgment of us. And help us to rightly, as Jesus says, biblically judge one another. We pray all these things to you, God, because we need you. And we know that you're going to answer us beautifully because we have Jesus. It's in his name that we pray, and all God's people say, amen.

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