9.22.2009

Message preached 09.06.2009

This is a one post break from the gospel series to share the message I preached on September 9th of this year.  The audio of me preaching this can be found here... http://s3.amazonaws.com/mychurchwebsite/c1420/message-09-09-06.mp3 remember this was preached audibly, there are a lot of typos, and little mistakes in the text below, but the text was a mere guide in the preaching.  (ie one spot should say self-righteous not just righteous, there are a few other spots where words are missing, misspelled, etc...)


By your standard of Measure
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.  For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.  Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.”  Matthew 7:1-6



Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:
The most memorized scripture in the bible is typically thought to be John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  What a wonderful blessing that passage is to the believer, however it is doubtful that is the most quoted scripture we hear.  The scripture most quoted by unbelievers to Christians is this “Judge not lest ye be judged.”  Granted very few people realize that they are quoting Matthew 7:1, but they know it is in the bible and they know they can quote it every time they sense that they are being judged.  This is an important text to consider being as the primary beef the world claims to have with the church is that the church is too judgmental.  This morning we are going to dive in to this passage to find out what it really means, and how difficult of a passage it really is.  Moreover we are going to consider whether we must heed to the criticism of the world and consider their rebuke as though it were from God, knowing that God has often used people outside of the faith as an instrument of rebuke for those within the faith, or whether we can dismiss their claims against us knowing that the scriptures also promise we will be accused falsely for His sake.



One of the best places to go to get understanding of this text is the end of time, Judgment Day itself.  Fast forward to Revelation 20:11-12



Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (Revelation 20:11-12 NASB)



John the revelator is receiving the vision of the end of time and he sees the dead lined up before the throne, a huge mass of humanity standing before the King of Kings, and there in that crowd John sees you.  Realize that you are there, you are in the bible, physically pictured in Revelation 20:11-12.  Why are they gathered?  Judgment!  Books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  You will stand before God, and you will answer according to your deeds.  Realize this is not just some apocalyptic revelation theme throughout the scriptures final judgment is referenced, a good portion of the parable reference judgment, many of the teachings of the apostles reference judgment, and we also find this judgment referenced in the Old Testament as well.  Let’s just nail it down right here, we will stand before God for judgment.  Now in light of that truth let’s read Matthew 7:1-2 -



"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2 NASB)



In light of Revelation 20 think about the words ‘the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.’  Do you see where this is going?  Listen to how practical this teaching becomes if just apply it as it is written.



Let’s start with Politics.
For eight years the President of the United States of America was George W. Bush.  During his time in office and even still today we heard countless people call George W. Bush a moron because of his inability to pronounce words correctly and fashion grammatically accurate sentences before millions of viewers.  In light of this passage the people who made those judgments have agreed to stand before the throne of the Most High God and be judged according to their public speaking ability.  “For in the way you judge, you will be judged.”



Currently many people have a beef with our presiding President.  It is ok to have a beef with Obama, or Bush, but people make claims that President Obama is such and idiot when it comes to Healthcare reform and its economic effects.  In light of Matthew 7:1-2 and Revelation 20 the people who say such things have agreed to stand before the throne of the Most High and be judged based on their own knowledge of healthcare and economics.



Odds are that some of us are already writing these two examples off... but I challenge you to apply the passage to the situation without righteously asserting your views.



Let’s move on, I mean we have already mentioned politics, let’s go into another taboo subject... this may be the last time I get to preach, but let’s speak a moment about human sexuality.



We hear countless derogatory blasts against homosexuals, especially from within the professing Christian community.  Let me ask this:  Judgment made against the individual homosexual is based on what?  Sexual sin.  (Now I am not going to open this can of worms too far, the bible speaks clearly on this issue and I will leave it at that.)  However be very careful before you judge someone based on sexual impurity.  Are you willing to stand before the Most High, in light of Matthew 7:1-2 and be judged on your own sexual purity?  Really?  After all your second glances at girls on the street, all the filth on your Desparate Housewives, Grays Anatomy, CSI, and every other show, after all the smut novels, profession football cheerleaders, internet pornography, second glances at billboards with sexual content, fantasies that only you know about... and you are going to make a judgment based on someone else’s sexual purity?  Or what about all the relationships you had before Be careful.  That standard you have set... you will be held to.



How about at Church?  We have all been part of conversations where we stand in judgment of our church leaders, and how we feel things should be done and how they are failing, and how they need to get a life and see things the way we do.  In light of standing Judgment before the Most High according to your own standard how does that play out?  You are a leader in your home, are you leading perfectly?  You have tremendous resources, are you using them how God wants?  As Christians we are all ministers, how is your ministry going?  The very standards you have set for others... they will be raised against you.



Listen, I have a tendency towards being judgmental, and I know it.  This is something I must constantly seek guidance on, and constantly seek repentance from, and to be honest this text is a touch frightening to me.  I also know that there are many others, if not everyone in this place, that if they are honest with themselves they will find this text to be difficult as well.



So where do we go from here?  Are we to just sit back and have nothing to say about anything?  Of course not, but Jesus gives us pretty clear direction. 



Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.  – (Matthew 7:3-5)



We are to not judge, however we are to discern.  The scriptures speak often about discerning good and evil, and we are not to lay back with an anything goes attitude, but discernment and judgment are two entirely different things.  To judge is to usurp the authority of God who alone is judge.  When you make character judgments against people you have assumed a position that only God is allowed to occupy.  To discern is altogether different than to judge.  Discernment is born out of humility, and the first step to biblical discernment is to acknowledge your own sin.  You see that speck in your brother’s eye?  What about the log in your own?  This is an exaggerated contrast, the difference between a speck and an entire log is nearly infinite, and you are called to first pull out that log before dealing with the speck.  What does this mean?... It means that the depth of sin within you is far greater than anything you have ever seen in someone else.  It really is.  The sooner you come to grips with your sinfulness the sooner you will have the ability to not judge.  To begin to remove the log of iniquity from your own eye get alone with God and ask Him to reveal your sinfulness to you.  Seriously, seek Him to show you what your ways are really like... trust me, if you honestly do that, He will show you sides of your own self that you never knew existed, and you will realize the foolishness of judging another.  You will also be humbled, and know that the proverbs say “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”



You see, once you are humbled by your own shortcomings, you will see that speck in your brother’s eye, you will not see it with a critical spirit, but you will see it as it is, a speck.  Now specks are not trivial, if you have ever had a speck of something in your eye you know that it causes pain and annoyance.  If you humble yourself before the Lord you will see your brother’s speck and realize that whether they know it or not, it is causing them blurry vision and annoyance, and out of love and a desire for their well being you will gently remove that speck from their eye.  You will give a gentle rebuke, or teaching, or exhortation.  Discernment, and biblical rebuke and correction are born out of humility and love.



With all that has been said so far, be very careful.  We are not to judge people, we are to hate sin, sin in our own lives, sin in the world, sin everywhere.  We are not to stand in support of sin, to justify sin, to promote sin, or to embrace sin.  We ought to hate our own sin, knowing that the sin of ourselves and of this world has cause our savior to die, and that God is holy and has a fierce indignation against sin.  We are to be open to people, and never stand in judgment of others... but be careful to accept every activity and be so open minded that your brains fall out.



This is the exact reason Jesus gives us this next verse.  “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.”  (Matthew 7:6)  It is as though Jesus has said to us... Listen up!  You cannot judge others, you are in no place to judge others, you are a log eyed people and are in no way capable or worthy of casting judgment on anyone... at the same time be careful, do not just go throwing what is holy to dogs, and giving pearls to swine... you must have humble discernment or else you are just going to let anything go, and your lack of discernment will allow the world to tear you to shreds.



We must be so careful.  One of the reasons we Christians seem so judgmental to everyone else is not because we have taken such a hard line on sin, in fact the opposite is true.  We have chosen to allow various sin and we sweep it under the rug and say it isn’t so bad, yet at the same time we choose other sin to be greater and we draw a line.  As though we were Catholic and believed some sin to be mortal, some to be menial.  Listen, the wages of all sin is death.  We are to hate all sin, and should hate to see sin promoted... and be especially repentant when we ourselves are promoting sin.  The mark of true belief is a love for Christ that plays itself out in tangible ways, one of which is repentance from sin and not the promotion or acceptance of it in our lives.  By grace, if you have true belief, your mind has been regenerated with a desire to turn from sin and pursue righteousness.



Judge not... please... in light of the fact that you too will be judged on that day... judge not.  Discern, with humility, honest humility not some mock contrition, discern right from wrong and in light of your own shortcomings come to the aid of your brother in removing that annoying speck from his eye.  Come to me in humility and help me get the specks out of my eyes, as I too will do the same for you.  Let us not stand in judgment over each other any longer, but let us rebuke, exhort, encourage, teach, and help each other with an honest and enduring love.



AMEN.

4 comments:

livefish said...

"Discernment is born out of humility, and the first step to biblical discernment is to acknowledge your own sin."

This was probably my favorite part. I reminds me of Paul Tillich's quote that, "The first duty of love is to listen." It requires putting others before ourselves.

I read the sermon and it left me yearning for some practical ways or examples of what "taking the log out of my own eye," looks like. Do we need to dive into practicing Christian virtues, or are there some stories that would fit with this. You mentioned accountability at the end which is wonderful and needs to be talked about more.

When I went through Matthew with our High School group we followed along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship and he has some excellent things to say about face to face accountability. Good stuff.

This is a random question but do you use any visuals during your sermons?

Jay Miklovic said...

Our worship space has two large rear projection screens built into the sanctuary wall, I use power point, but only about 6 slides or so. I had one with pictures of the 2 presidents, one with a rainbow triangle and a television and some others. nothing too distracting, but having the screens built in almost forces you to use them.

Practical app on the log in the eye would've been good and should have been included. The goal was to encourage self examination and personal repentance in order to produce humility... there could have been countless illustrations that could and should have been used there. Thx for the input.

I read Cost of Discipleship early in my Christian life and it had a very profound effect on me. I have never thought to use it with our HS group, but that is not a bad idea.

I am always open to ideas, I am only two years deep into this as a vocation and have zero YM training. Coming from an engineering career makes for an odd transition. From the moment I knew I was being called into ministry I made it clear to the Lord that it would not be with youth, it would not be UMC, and it would not be in my hometown. The Lord had the last laugh on all three, and it has been wonderful so far!

livefish said...

I too have somehow ended up back in my hometown and even at the very church I grew up in. One difference though is that I did feel very called to work with youth and still do. You have found a wonderful resource in the Rethinking Youth Ministry Blog, I use their stuff on a regular basis.

Love to trade ideas and stories sometime. I even have two really close friends that I meet with regularly who are pastors in the UMC that I went to college with. If you ever want to hear their sermons or read their blogs since they too are fresh in parish ministry let me know.

Jay Miklovic said...

yeah that would be good. I will email you later... I definitely know that I am called to YM at this point and am so thankful to be in it.

The Lord in His mysterious sovereignty knew that my assurance of my calling lied in me be called to something I did not initially want to do. Of course their are a number of examples of others who had the same experience right in the scriptures.

The beauty of youth ministry is that it is expected to be different than the established norm, which frees us to do biblical ministry without the fear breaking from 'this is how we have always done it'. Gotta go, will keep in touch.