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Judge not is not an excuse for not ministering to others

Whether it is OJ, the guy wearing a hoodie, the owner of the Clippers, or the person next door, we all judge each other to some degree.  What do the very stern words of Matthew 7 mean to the Christian of today?
Whether it is OJ, the guy wearing a hoodie, the owner of the Clippers, or the person next door, we all judge each other to some degree. What do the very stern words of Matthew 7 mean to the Christian of today?
Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Read Matthew 7:1-14

There are few words in the Bible with the intensity of these.

JUDGE NOT LEST YOU BE JUDGED.

You think they would move us to action, self inspection, and growth.

Sadly, they often have the opposite effect. They are far too often the reason we use not to get involved in real ministry.

“I don’t want to judge.”

Those words are like our get out of jail free card. We don’t have to truly get involved with other people because we might judge them. “Those are some stern warnings about judging and I for one am not going to judge anyone, even if that means I never help anyone.”

The problem is that we stop reading after the first 5 verses. Those 5 verses are very important. They should get our attention.

We should look at ourselves first and work on our own flaws—all of them—before we judge another person. Even in the subtlety of saying, “Oh, let me help you with that problem you have,” we have judged.

We have decided what areas another person needs to work on as a person. This is not a supervisor telling an employee that his quality of work is not up to speed.

This is just good ole My dog’s better than your dog thinking. It is judging.

Jesus tells us that our vision is not good enough to judge when we have a lumber yard in our own eye. Jesus tells us to clean out our own eye, but we usually don’t like that part.

That part requires change on our part.

So we compromise. We decide not to judge anyone else and not to take the splinters out of our own eye either.

We decide that everyone is just fine in their own comfort zones and the effect is that we don’t do any ministry.

But we are called to love others. We are called to love God by serving others. We are called to ministry.

We are the Body of Christ and we are called to minister to others.

So we must read the 6th verse. It belongs in the context of these scriptures on judging.

Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

Do not give your best efforts to your worst causes.

What?

Let’s move from proscriptive to prescriptive. Let’s frame this in terms of what we are to do.

Take the best of your time, energy, and resources and apply them to the things that God is calling your to do. If that is to feed the poor, then feed them.

If it is to read to a child, then read.

If it is to teach, then teach.

If it is to compose or play beautiful music, the bring music into this world.

And surely for all of us, it is to remove the planks of wood from our own eyes before we venture into fixing the world.

But don’t give you best efforts and resources and especially your time to looking at what is wrong with others. If we need to spend our effort and resources on fixing what is wrong with people, then we fix ourselves.

We focus our fixing on ourselves. We minister to others.

In the course of ministry there will be opportunity to speak the truth in love. Our words will mean something because all of our judgmental efforts will have been focused on us.

The words that mean something to another person may be close to the same words that are judgmental, except we only judge ourselves and these words truly come with love intertwined.

Again, this condition must come from the heart. The difference between ministry and judging is rooted in the condition of the heart.

We can’t back away from ministry because we are afraid of judging others.

Judge yourself. Fix what you can. Give the rest to God. Live in his strength.

Now you are ready to minister to others.

Now that we are focused on judging only ourselves and being discerning with our best, ask God for what you need to do his will.

Jesus tells us that if we can figure out how to give good gifts to our children, don’t you think God has figured out this giving thing even more.

God wants to bless us.

He wants to bless us so we can bless others.

And that brings us to what we often call the Golden Rule. Do to others what you would want them to do to you.

This piece of wisdom is present in just about every culture and religion and social order on the planet. It permeates even the most secular cultures.

Treat people the way that you want to be treated.

And so we come to the narrow and wide gates. Do you remember the Hertz Rent A Car commercials from a decade or so ago.

There’s Hertz and there’s Not Exactly.”

There is saying and living, “I have decided to follow Jesus,” and there is “Not exactly.”

Following Jesus runs counter to the ways of the world but he leads us to life. Playing by the rules of the world is like being on a superhighway without a speed limit, but the road goes to nowhere.

Don’t apply the many and the few allegorically so as to arrive at a percentage of people who may get to heaven. We do believe that whosoever will may come, but they need to find the right road.

We are blessed to know the way, the truth, and the life. We call him Jesus, Lord, Master, and even brother.

He calls us friend.

He leads to life.

Salvation comes only by the name of Jesus.

We don’t worry about who goes where. We don’t get wrapped up in who gets away with what. We take the best of our gifts and talents and resources and lead people to Jesus and to life.

Amen.