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To Judge or Not: Tough Love In The Body Of Christ

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We are not to self-righteously judge, but we are called to cautiously judge one another in the body.

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Monthly Vision Casting

Who had a great time at Disciple Now Weekend?
It was an amazing experience partnering with Faith, coming together to worship Christ and grow in fellowship.
Pray
How has God used last weekend in your life? Has anything changed in your life?
of his love.
Well, my prayer is that all that we do as a Student Ministry would work to push you further in and further up (as Lewis would say) in your relationship with Christ. We exist for the purpose of teaching you to become a joyful follower of Christ. We long to see you grow in your relationship with Him, we long to see you reaching out to impact your family and friends and we hope that you recognize the joy and happiness that follows from life in Christ. As Jesus said:
John 10:10 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Many hopes and dreams are achieved on Valentine’s Day and on the other side of the coin many of our worst fears are realized. If you haven’t written a Valentine’s Day dump poem - well you are just not living right. Come to the light people.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly ().” And certainly Jesus is talking about eternal life with Him in heaven, but He is also talking about today. Right, now. He wants you to have life and life abundant.
I want to clue you into a new type of Wednesday night service we will be having regularly, once every 5 weeks or so - and that is a night of prayer. We will come together and worship through song, I’ll lead a pastoral prayer, then we will break into smaller groups where we can share prayer requests and have a time where we pray with and for one another.
There is this scene in all four gospels where the time of Passover was at hand and Jesus had made his way to the temple in Jerusalem and entering the temple he see’s these merchants selling animals for people to make their sacrifices. Which, on the face of it wouldn’t have been a bad thing, people needed these animals to fulfill their duty to God. However, what was happening was these merchants were making profit, they were lining their pockets at the expense of the people, they were using God and His law, to make a quick buck.
So Jesus comes in and makes a whip and flips over the tables and drives these thieves out. Christ was zealous or passionate for His father’s house. Then He said this to those listening:
“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers ().”
A house of prayer. Students it is time that we make space for this place to be a house of prayer. I am convinced that many of you don’t really know how to pray because it has not been modeled to you well here at Fuel. This is changing. By God’s grace we will be a Student Ministry that is marked by Spirit-dependent prayer.
But seriously, with all the different ideas about what “love” is and how “love” is shown - I think we should allow God’s Word to set the record straight. So, tonight we are going to talk about The Goodness and Love of God. And my hope is we recognize the goodness of God and the extent of his love.
Pray
Student Read
Psalm 136:1 ESV
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Or, from the lips of Christ:
Mark 10:18 ESV
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
God is good. It is the fabric of his nature and character. He doesn’t just act good, like he meets some standard, but He is in fact good within Himself.
And, the Bible also speaks unashamedly that God is love:
1 John 4:8 ESV
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Or,
1 John 4:16 ESV
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
God is love. It is His nature. It is who He is. He doesn’t just love, but He is love. And thus it follows that if God is good and if God is love than all that he does is consistent with His goodness and love.
All that God does flows from His goodness.
Matthew 7:1–5 ESV
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
So a week ago, we peeked into the book of James and listened to James command that we not to judge others. That self-serving and self-righteous judgment is evil and that it contradicts the law of love. We cannot love each other while simultaneously judging each other. It’s not possible. That was last week.
Tonight is Valentine’s Day though and I thought we would look back at this command to “judge not” in light of love. Everyone talks of love on Valentine’s Day. You get cards, candy and flowers on this day.
Who in here was given/gave a card/present this year for Valentine’s Day?
It’s the day of love. Really, February is celebrated as the month of love. The history of Valentine’s Day is a bit murky and we don’t even really know who Saint Valentine was. Legend tells us it was one of two or three men. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailer's daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
And if you don’t think Valentine’s Day matters, well you need to hear these statistics:
In the US alone 62% of adults celebrate the holiday in some sort and fashion. 448 million dollars is spent on candy this week in the US. 58 million pounds of chocolate candy (that would be 29,000 elephants if each elephant weighed 2000 pounds) is purchase. 36 million heart shaped chocolate boxes are sold. 150 million Valentine’s Cards are sent each year.
On average men shell out $150 and women shell out $74 (come on women seems a bit cheap). 8 Billion sweet hearts are produced. 23% of people say they buy flowers. Mixed flowers are the top choice, followed by Roses. This week about 174,000 gallons of sparkling wine will be sold.
So yeah, we celebrate this holiday. It is the second largest money-making holiday (Christmas being #1). And it is historically about love, sympathy and heroism. And so tonight I thought it would be appropriate to take up the topic “Tough Love in the Body of Christ.” With all the “I love You’s” floating around today, the sentimental feelings, the longing looks of adoration, the dm’s filled with private love messages - I thought why don’t we balance our understanding of love a bit. “Tough Love in the Body of Christ.”
The phrase “Body of Christ” do you know what that means?
It means - a local group of believers -
Have you ever tried to help someone and got back this ringing line: “don’t judge me.” Whether an adult in here tried to help a family member with budgeting or you a student tried to help a friend with relational issues - you have heard that phrase: “don’t judge me.” I remember being a senior in HS and my friend Rhyan Anderson telling me that I needed to work on my relational capacity - that I didn’t let people in easily, I was not open with others, and quite frankly wasn’t very friendly - you know what I said to him: “don’t judge me.” I was upset. I was mad. I thought “he has no right.”
And in light of last week where we talked about how judging others is a sin - I thought tonight we could look at this same command in another place in Scripture and understand it more fully. Truthfully, the phrase “don’t judge me” may not be as biblical as we once thought.
I want to help us see that the famous slogan “don’t judge me” may not be as biblical as we once thought.
From the outset I want to be clear: teaches that there is only one true judge.
James 4:12 ESV
12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
God alone is worthy and perfect in His judgments. We have no right as His created beings to try to usurp His throne and attempt to pass judgment on others. It is His right alone.
Tonight we will qualify what we talked through last week. In fact, Jesus actually makes room for us to judge, with caution, each other. Here let’s just take His words on it.

Judge Not

Matthew 7:1 ESV
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.
Matthew 7:1–2 ESV
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
So once again we see that we are not to judge. The Greek word (so the Bible was actually written in Greek and Hebrew/a little Aramaic) is krino and in this context it carries the idea of sitting upon a seat above and pronouncing condemnation on others. It is being unduly harsh; It means to have contempt at the sinner, not the sin.
It is that tendency in the human heart to say “if they were a little bit more like me, as funny as me, athletic as me, smart as me, witty as me, talented as me” - and we elevate our self - we become overly critical. We become fault-finders. So Jesus says don’t do that.
Like we talked about last week with different words judgment has to do with ownership. Look at Romans 14:10-12:
You are not to judge. Sitting upon a seat above and pronounces condemnation. Unduly harsh; contempt at the sinner, not the sin. Judgment is exalting ourself to God’s status.
So when we pass judgment on someone is exalting our self to God’s statu
Judgment has to do with ownership.
Romans 14:10–12 ESV
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Ultimately, it is God’s seat of judgment. He will sit in the seat of judgment over us. So, judgment is God’s right. He owns the seat not us. Then Jesus gives a threat to those who judge in (v.2):
Matthew 7:2 ESV
2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
So I remember at the end of track season in HS before summer let out our coaches would sit us down and encourage and plead with us to stay in shape and not waste our summer vegging in front of the TV. It was before the “voluntary” summer workouts. And I remember each year I would go home that last day of school and think “I’ll take tomorrow off to play video games all day and then I’ll get jacked.”
And then the next day would come and the day after and the day after. And I would wake up one day and realize in one week football started. And I’d realize it was too late. Then on that dreadful day in August - I would show up. It was a day of reckoning. It was the time I would have to look myself in the mirror and admit that I did not do the things I needed to. I was not jacked and I was no better at sports.
Application: well what Jesus says in (v.2) is that a day of reckoning is coming. There will be that day “the first day of two-a-days” when a mirror will be held up to your life. And if you had an overly critical spirit then God will be overly critical. That phrase “with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged” means that God is not random or unpredictable in His judgment, but fair. He is thoughtful. He is wise in how He judges. Chrysostom, the ancient Christian, made the point that for those who continually judge others “thou art making the judgment-seat dreadful to thyself.”
So there is a threat of pending judgment for those who are robotic fault-finders. The NRSV an older version of ESV puts (v.2) this way:
2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
That threat should remind us to be generous and gracious in our thoughts and judgments toward others. But then Jesus tells us a story to highlight his teaching.
Matthew 7:3–5 ESV
3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:3–4 ESV
3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
So there are two guys. One has a speck in his eye (not comfortable) and the other has a log protruding out of his eye (seriously painful).
To put it in Middle School language one of you has a small blemish, maybe a black head, and the other has this massive, almost infected zit on the tip of your nose - the size of a dime. And the bro with the mountain zit is like “hey, Isaac, you got a blackhead on your chin. You may want to wash your face. Maybe stop eating such greasy foods. Drink more water.” All the while this meteor zit on his nose can be seen from the international space station.
Jesus is trying to get at the irony here. We are excellent fault-finders in others, but we have blinders toward our own sin. Not only does critical, self-righteous judgment accrue a harsh judgment, but Jesus now points out how hypocritical judgment really is.
Like we need to take a long look in the mirror. Our spiritual house isn’t in perfect order. We have sin issues. Major ones at that. Some Christian’s in here are drowning in porn. You can’t breath, but because others don’t know about your porn addiction you feel justified to judge them because of x, y, and z that is more visible. Jesus is saying you are a hypocrite. And he actually does. Look how the story ends:
Matthew 7:5 ESV
5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
So here is Jesus’ indictment: hypocrites. Fakers. Phonies. Two-faced. We are not honest with our self. We are aware of our sin, but our sin does not make us humble and generous toward others, but quite the opposite - it makes us harsh, vindictive and critical. And Jesus calls our bluff. Hypocrite.

Judge Cautiously

But then he does something interesting. He gives us our doctor’s orders. He says “here’s what you should do for that Super Moon zit on your nose…in order that you can help your buddy with the blackhead on his chin.”
Jesus actually makes room and give us a path to follow to cautiously judge one another. Listen again to (v.5) “first take the log out of your own eye” that means deal with sin issues in your life. Take them to the cross. Repent of them. Wipe your hands clean of sinful passions and lusts. Get extreme toward sin, because it is violently pursuing you. Take out the log. Deal with the infected zit. “And then, [Jesus says] you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
How could you ever know that your brother has a speck in their eye?
Maybe they tell you, maybe, but likely it is because you’ve looked. You inspected them. You evaluated their spiritual life. You judged them. Jesus actually commends that you pass cautious judgment - of the evaluative type if the purpose is to help and heal and root out sin in their life in order to push them closer to Christ. We must be careful. We must take caution.
We are not to be the spiritual police rummaging around each other’s lives to straighten each other up. We are not the Holy Spirit. Our fallen nature is selfish and proud and often hypocritical, judging ourselves leniently and others severely. We are quick to, as the Bible would say, strain gnats and swallow camels (), quick to take tweezers to another’s eye when we need a forklift for our own. It is better to “judge not” than to self-rigtheously judge like this, since we will be judged in the same way we judge others. So be careful. Jesus takes judgment very seriously. That’s why (v.1-4) exist and not just (v.5).
Therefore, when we judge, and Scripture instructs Christians to judge at times (), we must take great care that our judgment is charitable. Look at it reads:
Look at it reads:
Ephesians 4:15 ESV
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
How do you speak truth, lovingly to someone, if you haven’t evaluated them to see what truth they need to hear?
Application: The answer is: you can’t! You cannot speak truth to others in the body, in love, unless you have looked over their spiritual condition. I preached on this text five years ago on a Sunday morning and I went back to hear some of the things I said and one thing that stood out was I made this statement and I believe that it is as true today as it was five years ago.
I said, “At the time we had a group of about 12 students meeting together on Sunday nights and I told them that I judged each and everyone of them each week. And I got some crazy looks! Like “don’t judge me” or “who do you think you are” and “what’s up with you, Josh, you crazy man!” But the truth is I still do that, because if I didn’t evaluate and judge your spiritual condition - how could I week to week to week get up and give you a fresh word from God that is relevant to your life? It is my duty - my responsibility - to speak truth in love to you. Personally and corporately.
So let’s anchor this command with some guidelines for us. I don’t want an over zealous 7th grade girl beating down your door tonight yelling at you to repent. So here is a bit of wisdom to take in weighing when “To Judge or Not”.

Be Quick To Believe Innocence

In the United States, when a person is accused of a legal transgression, but the evidence against him is inconclusive, our knowledge of the law demands we presume his innocence until sufficient evidence can demonstrate his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Such demonstration is typically not quick or easy.
So, the first way to take great care how we judge is to be slow to pronounce guilt when evidence is scant or hearsay or ambiguous. This runs counter not only to fallen human nature, but also our media-saturated culture that encourages hair-trigger judgments. We are wise to practice something that has been cemented in our judicial system. Be quick to believe innocence.
Transition: Second:

Be Thorough Before Pronouncing Guilt

Circumstantial evidence is not placed before a “reasonable” judge who then renders a verdict based merely on his judicial common sense interpretation. Millennia of human history have taught us that appearances can be deceiving and “reasonable” people have conscious and unconscious biases that shape how they interpret evidence.
So, our courts demand a rigorous process of evaluating evidence in an effort to ensure that deceptive appearances and biases do not distort the truth. This process requires diligence, patience, and restraint. And while reasonable doubt regarding a person’s guilt persists, we are bound to believe — at least in a legal sense — the best about that person. We give him “the benefit of the doubt.”
In Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love believing all things, students, means that we are charitable and gracious with our evaluation and judgment. Christians are called to believe the best about each other until sufficient evidence confirms beyond a reasonable doubt that a transgression has occurred. So we are to do some serious homework before we pronounce guilt.
Transition: the next guideline was taught to me by Pastor Glen and confirmed in Scripture:

Aim For Restoration

reads:
2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
When evidence does confirm that a transgression or sin has occurred, a second way we take great care how we judge is to “aim for restoration”.
If we’re personally involved in such a situation, our goal in confronting someone caught in sin or, if necessary, initiating a process of church discipline, is to gain back our brother or sister (). Our goal is not to punish, but redeem.
We must vigilantly remain “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave [us]” (). Even if the guilty person is unrepentant and fellowship must be severed, the purpose remains redemptive for the offender () and for the church ().
Transition: And according to Jesus we must:

Take Into Account Your Personal Sin And Repent First

This comes straight from our text tonight. We must remove the log in our own eye and then go to our brother and sister and help remove the speak in their eye.
It will go along way practically in the process of evaluation, what I’ve called “Tough Love in The Body of Christ” if you would actually take Jesus serious on this point. Humble yourself before Christ, admit your sin, hate your sin, and run from it and run to Christ. If you’d make this a daily practice: humble yourself, admit your sin, hate your sin, run from your sin and run to Christ - then people in the body would have an easier time finding you authentic and genuine when you come to them to correct sinful tendencies.
Transition: and finally:

Keep Quiet If At All Possible

If we’re not personally involved or are distant observers, we can still aim for the person’s restoration by, if possible, not saying anything. A wise rule of thumb: the greater our distance, the greater our ignorance. And ignorant commentary about a person or situation is never helpful and is usually nothing more than gossip or slander, which Jesus calls evil ().
So, if a friend of a friend of a friend told you that so and so did this and that - and you don’t really even know who that is - it is not your place to call them out. I’m in a different position because I am a pastor here at First. That means that if you are a member I have a responsibility before God to help you by evaluating your life and encouraging you toward love and good deeds in Christ.
But you are not in the same place that I am. The greater your distance from the person the greater your ignorance. So don’t fall prey to wicked, self-righteous judgment and gossip. Pursue love, unity and peace.
So, when you are faced with the question: “To Judge or Not”...
Be Quick To Believe Innocence, Be Thorough Before Pronouncing Guilt, Aim For Restoration, Take Into Account Your Personal Sin And Repent First, and Keep Quiet If At All Possible.
These are the steps you should take when you show “Tough Love in the Body of Christ”. Students in this lovey-dovey, soft culture of love we need “tough love” from each other, but we need it to accord with God’s Word and with charity. And when it does - Christ is made famous - and our joy in Him and fellowship with one another grows! Let’s be this type of church. Let’s be this type of student ministry.
Pray
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