#934. Do not judge - a very misused phrase! (9/11/23)
This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we will be reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:27-42. Today, we will consider what the often misunderstood phrase, ‘do not judge’, means.
‘“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 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.”’ (Luke 6:37-38)
Lesson: It’s right to judge for the purposes of wisdom and justice. However, we must never condemn people as beyond God’s mercy and our loving service.
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How would you describe what is meant by ‘do not judge’? If a child were to ask you what it meant, what would you say? Often it’s used as a way of shutting down criticism; if someone has a lifestyle or attitude that another questions or disagrees with they are told, “Do not judge”! However, clearly, we all ‘judge’ certain lifestyles and attitudes as right and wrong or wise or unwise. We have to ‘judge’ in this sense if we are to make good decisions or provide helpful advice and correction. There could be no legal system and anyone could do whatever they wanted regardless of how it hurt themselves or others. So what does this mean?
The word ‘judge’ (Krino) means many thing including: to decide, consider, preferring one thing over another, to condemn in a legal sense.
Judging has a negative and positive - a right way to judge and a wrong way to judge. Let’s look at each.
i. The right way to judge
I’m sure we all agree that it’s vital that we judge things in the sense of making good decisions and considering the outcome of different choices. This is what the book of Proverbs, for example, urges us to do. This kind of judging is something that the world desperately needs as popular culture often promotes promiscuity and a general disrespect of time-tested wisdom.
ii. The wrong way to judge
To judge people as worse sinners and beyond God’s mercy is evil. In the text, Jesus says do not judge and you will not be judged…’ and this is followed with ‘Do not condemn and you will not condemn’, making it clear that this is about condemning people. Jesus has in mind the example of many of the religious leaders in Israel. Their self-righteous and ‘judgy’ attitudes are seen in this interaction with Jesus as He ate with Levi the tax collector (such people were considered as scum):
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32)
If we are going to bring people to Jesus, we must be gracious and have faith that Jesus can save all people. All are, of course, condemned by God in their sin, but none are beyond His mercy and grace. Rather than condemning, we are to show the sorts of sacrificial loving service that we have been looking at this week from this section of Luke.
It’s right to judge for the purposes of wisdom and justice. However, we must never condemn people as beyond God’s mercy and our loving service.
Firstly, are you making good judgements and choosing wisdom? Are you willing to lovingly confront and encourage others when they are not choosing wisdom?
Secondly, are you condemning people? Are you more aware of the sin of others than you are of your own? Do we seek to serve, invest and invite anyone to Jesus because we are convinced that no one is beyond God’s mercy? We must judge no one as beyond God’s ability to save; in fact, we must see that His salvation of the worst of sinners brings great glory to God as it reveals the greatness of His power and love.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
2. Icebreaker How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. Study and pray together
This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we will be reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:27-42 where, in essence, Jesus is teaching us about how we are to love others in a Christ-like fashion.
Please read Luke 6:27-42
Which aspect of this text do you find most challenging and why?
V.31 is often called The Golden Rule. In what ways can you practically apply this in the various relationships in your life?
Specifically, this section says a lot about being generous. What does it teach about how we are to use our wealth?
SIV - How will the application of this text, and The Golden Rule, help others to 'see Jesus' through us?
SIV - In v.37, we are commanded not to judge. This is about condemning people as beyond God's grace. How will obedience to this teaching help us to bring people to Jesus?
SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ this week?
SIV - What does V.28 teach us about the importance of prayer in mission and how are we doing in this regard?
SIV - Let's now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.