Matthew 7:1-6 (NIV) “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
About a year ago, I began wearing contact lenses. Tired of my glasses, it was time for a change. After the first couple of days of attempting to stick something in my eye which did not seem amenable to my doing so, it was a piece of cake. I have enjoyed them tremendously… until last night. Sundays are very long days. By the time, we finally make it home and eat some dinner. I am ready for a hot shower and bed. As I was attempting to remove my contacts which has always been a breeze, I lost one. No seriously after digging and rubbing my eyeball for an hour, I cannot find it. I don’t know if it is still in my eye, or worked its way out but my eye is screaming this morning. It is swollen, red and very irritated. Flooding it with eye drops, I cannot even gently touch it today without intense pain. Why wouldn’t I immediately seek the Lord and anything that might offer relief? I went straight to Matthew 7 this morning.
The plank in the eye story about judgment has always been a warning against self-righteous indignation when we decide that the behavior or actions of another are not worthy of the same grace that God gave us so we judge them according to their actions and not the grace given to us by Jesus Christ. There is a strong warning for God’s People who judge other people. Good judgment is not the problem at all. In fact, Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to give us discernment. (I Corinthians 2:10-11) God’s Ways are not like our ways. God’s Word will never return to Him void or not accomplishing exactly what God intended it to do. (Isaiah 5:8-10) The Word of God is quite clear that “whoever hears my (God’s) word and believes him sent me (Jesus) and will not be judged but passes from death to life.” (John 5:24) It is human nature to add to the context of obedience and raise the bar of life, but it is not God’s Way. His Word is complete all by itself. (Ecclesiastes 3:14) Jesus said, “It is finished” and He meant that it is done.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are saved by grace through faith. There is no other way to the Father but by the Son. (John 14:6) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Let’s talk just a little bit about that today. We all know and understand Matthew 7 when it talks about other people but I believe that if God’s People would seek discernment and allow the Holy Spirit to make our hope confident that this problem with judging one another might get nipped in the bud. Comparison to anyone other than Jesus Christ is a joy-killer and prosperity ender. Your life is unique. You are referred to as “God’s Masterpiece”. It is not only how we judge others but how we judge ourselves. Most of the time I expect more of myself than anyone else. I put my expectations in others that should be solely grounded in God’s Love and His Grace. When I decide that others are not worry of God’s Grace. I am judging them. When I am certain I have overstepped my bounds and must do something to further achieve God’s Grace as well, I am judging myself.
What is judgment anyway? Judgment is the ability to judge or make a decision. It is to form an opinion objectively (not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice) but based solely on facts. When we overcome human thinking and stand on the Truth according to God’s Word, we develop good judgment not based on the attitudes and actions of others but on the basis of Jesus Christ and the faith that we have in Him. We believe and are confident that the hope we have in the Lord far out measures and outweighs worldly opinions. Judgment or discernment is not a bad thing. It is when we decide to judge in the absence of grace that it gains a negative connotation.
There are three products of judgment that can be problematic in our life. Oppression, offenses, and opinions hold no power over us except what is given. They are three bully clubs that we use on others, as well as, ourselves. They all stem from lies and deceptions from the author of confusion. In order to overcome these three culprits, it is optimal to pull apart our thoughts and rip open our mind to examine the contents. When we find these three weed seeds, it is best to tear them out immediately or they surely will destroy us from the inside out beginning with bitterness and strife.
Psalm 119:130-135 (NIV) The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.
Judgment of others and self-condemnation begins with unrealistic expectations based on lack of knowledge. They have been a great gift (salvation) but not taken the time to read the directions so all the wonderful benefits sit in the box waiting to be used. Not many people take the time to study God’s Word each day and pack in knowledge that feeds discernment and starves ignorance. To oppress means to burden with cruel and unjust impositions or restraints. It makes one subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise. We cannot earn grace. It is a God-given gift. We are called to love – one another and our self. Poor judgment based on a lack of knowledge is foolishness that fastens the shackles of oppression on the arms of God’s People. We must seek the Word of God to know the Way of God. We must walk in the Way of God to have God’s Will. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) The Truth has the ability to establish freedom in your life today. (John 8:32) The Lord desires to free us today from ignorance and the oppression of poor judgment. (Psalm 146:6-8)
Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Are you offended today? Are you harboring unforgiveness? To withhold forgiveness from another person is a form of judgment that hinders us. It takes us captive allowing the other person to remain free. 2 Samuel 25 is the story of David, Abigail and Nabal. Nabal offended David greatly and David was ready to settle the score. But Nabal’s wife was a wise woman and the moment that she heard of Nabal’s offending words and actions to David, she sprang into action preparing provisions going to David to personally offer forgiveness for her husband’s foolish offense. David accepted her gift and Abigail’s people were saved as well. What if we were so quick to respond? Would it remove the cloud of offense that hangs over the church today? People get offended so they leave. They carry that baggage to the next place they go and add to it until one day they are sitting at home alone with offense built up as a wall all around them. Do not judge them it could be you. Just because you are right does not give you the right to be offended.
The word “offend” means to irritate, annoy or anger. It is to cause resentment or displeasure. Clearly that is not the cause of Jesus Christ or the outcome He desires in our life or for His Kingdom. Offense is the offering of pride that exalts itself over the humble spirit of salvation and grace. It demands its own way and accountability for all actions except those of self. By choosing to foster love and grace in our life, it will cover every offense. (Proverbs 17:9) Calmness and patience will lay great offenses to rest (Ecclesiastes 10:4) so we can politely step over them and keep following Christ.
Proverbs 18:2 (NIV) Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
An opinion is a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. It is often based on how we feel not what we know. It is not a secure position. Yet, many people will base their life and future on the opinions of other people. Public opinion is the devil’s fodder because it is an emotional reaction and not an eternal response. My tongue contains the power of life and death. The contents of my heart determine the overflow and potential in each word using my breath to resurrection my life and purpose or slowing kill it in doubt, fear and worry born of disbelief.
Matthew 7:1-5 warns of the dangers of poor judgment, lacking judgment or misplaced judgment. We are all guilty of it. This threat stems from ignorance. The more we study the Word of God, pray and seek out His Spirit for discernment – the better equipped we become at avoiding things like oppression, offense and powerful opinions. We have everything we need for a life of godliness. His Divine Power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3) Sometimes we forget the Gift of God that we have been given but His Word reminds us and His Spirit confirms it. We must use the Word of God as the sharp, two-edge sword that it is to allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate our soul and spirit and rightly divide us from things life oppressive, offensive and opinionated thoughts so that we can live in the freedom given to us by Jesus. (Hebrews 4:12) We cannot judge others when love and life abound in us. We cannot see our old selves when overshadowed by God’s Love, Affirmation and Approval. If we could just get the enemy out of our head and under our feet, we would come to know and realize that we have the power to walk in victory every day from glory to glory in Jesus Christ. Maybe this is how we stop giving dogs what is sacred, and allow the pigs to trample our pearls, by taking captive every single thought that creates strongholds in us like oppression, offensiveness and opinions.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The enemy strives to make people believe that God’s Grace is not sufficient. He twists and turns every word God has ever spoken to use against God’s Children. The truth is that the enemy is the author of confusion. He lies ruthlessly and without regret. If he can access a human thought or make his way into our mind, he will do so. Sin begins with a lie. Always. Jesus overcame the lie of the enemy when he was tempted by him. When we allow our thoughts to be sifted like wheat by the enemy lacking confidence that comes from faith in God and a personal pursuit to know who we are in Christ and who He is to us, we become subject to poor vision. We lack discernment so even when we look in the mirror, the reflection is altered. The glass is cloudy enough without adding objects like oppression, offense and opinions to block our view and vision of God’s Plan and Purpose for our life. My contacts help me see clearly. However, when it did not come out as expected last night rather than being patient, I began to dig in my eye relentlessly. So much so that now my eye is swollen and irritated. I am not sure if the contact is still in there or not. Today I must be patient. I must allow the eye drops to calm the irritated state of my pupil. Maybe the contact has already worked its way out and I need to just allow it my eye to rest. Nevertheless, I have learned a valuable lesson.
God is definitely not finished with us yet. If our purpose was accomplished and plan fully achieved, He would be calling us home or coming to get us. Since we are alive and breathing, it means the process is still ongoing. Lord, forgive me for judging others. As I strive daily not to do so, let me not turn on myself. God’s Grace is sufficient for me. Let me fix my thoughts on you today. Slam the windows and doors of my heart and mind to the enemy’s lies and open my soul and spirit to more of you. I ask the Holy Spirit to continue to cultivate good fruit and remind me of who I am to You, Lord! Fix my eyes on you, Jesus and if you see fit to do so fixing my eye would be awesome but if not right this minute let it be a reminder of where my faith belongs along with all expectation and who my Living Hope is – it’s you Jesus. May I be fully consumed mind, soul and body with your Love and Grace – not only sharing it with others but understanding it is for me too! God loves you today. Jesus is passionately pursuing us ready to overtake us with His Lovingkindness. The enemy is a liar. You have the victory. You are an overcomer. It doesn’t matter what you think or what others may say! You win! What’s blocking your view?
Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.