Today's sermon is about Beating God to the Punch. It's about Christian adjudication.
The other day someone really got me aggravated. You know, pastors are not supposed to get aggravated. It really ticked me off. Somebody called and said, "Is Mr. Or Mrs. Gettys there?" Eventually I knew it was a telemarketer. They didn't say, "Is Don there?" Or "Is the pastor there?" Or something, you know. I said: "I am Mr. Gettys." And the lady said, "Hello, Mr. Gettys. How are you today?" I thought, 'O boy. Here we go. If she asks me how I am, I'm going to tell her how I am! I'm, going to tell her how much money I need to pay the bills this month, and I'm going to tell her this and that. I'll keep her on the phone for ten or twenty minutes. Ill fix her!'
But then, something got into me, my Christianity, and all I said was, "May I help you?" I'm from the company you asked to call the other day about something and I'm here to give you some good news." Come to find out, it was a company that we had contacted. We wanted them to call us. And here she was calling. Ah-h! I had misjudged her. I came real close to lashing out at her. I felt real bad about that. She never even knew. I felt shamefaced after I hung up. It was horrible what I thought of doing to her.
All too often we just take matters into our own hands. But retribution really belongs to God. It doesn't belong to us. Come over here to Romans 12 in your Bible. I'm going to read from the New International Version. We're going to look at about a dozen Bible texts today. Romans 12:19 says, Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to repay," says the Lord.1 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord. That means that yoyu should treat telemarketers nicely.
In my zestfulness, I had almost taken out vengeance upon my supposed telemarketer. I had misjudged her. Look at Romans 14:13, Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. Actually, as Christians we're not to judge each other. We're not supposed to do it. That's what the Bible says.
So, point number one: We are told not to judge one another. We are told not to judge one another, Period! Passing a judgment on someone is out of the question for Christians.
Look over here in Romans 2. This is all through the bible. We should never judge one another. Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. And Jesus said it another way: John 8:7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." We are never to pass judgment on another human being.
One time, an irate mother called the corner grocery store. She said. "I sent my little son to your store for five pounds of apples and I find on weighing them that you sent only four and a quarter pounds and you cheated us" The grocer said, "Madam, my scales are regularly inspected and they are correct. You have misjudged me. I would suggest that you weight your little boy."
Look at James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor? You have no business judging your neighbor.
Why are we so quick to judge each other? Only God is the Great Judge. Only God can judge with perfect knowledge, and undisturbed compassion.
And even Jesus amplified this in Matthew 7:1-3. He makes it very clear. He says, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same 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? This is very plain. Is there any mistake about this?
Despite this Bible warning, we humans seem to enjoy "Christian adjudication". We enjoy adjudication (judging others). We like to judge one another. Mother Teresa said it this way: "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
In all honesty, we are not good judges anyway. You've heard of okra, haven't you? Okra can't expect to get a good judgment from a jury made up of Northern Yankees. They've never even heard of it. All humans are prejudiced. A fox should sit on the jury at the goose's trial. We're all prejudiced. Very few of us can decide impartially. We all tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and we judge others by their words and actions.
Only God should be the judge. Right? Wrong. Well not exactly
Point number 2: We should judge one another. In my judgment, we actually should judge one another. Are you confused by now? Now, just hang on before you wrongly judge me. You see, you're judging me. That's exactly what you're doing. Before you wrongly judge me I want you the hear me out.
Do you actually believe what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1? Do not judge, or you will be judged.
Come over here to James 5. I think James sums up what Jesus meant when Jesus said: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Listen to James 5:9: Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. Jesus said, "Do not judge, or you will be judged." James says, "Don't grumble or you will be judged."
I think Jesus actually meant not to grumble or to criticize one another. I think that's what He means. Don't grumble at one another. Most of us are really umpires at heart; we like to call strikes on somebody else. We like to judge that they're "out." We enjoy that. Don't pick one another apart. Faultfinding is so easy, but it is not the business we ought to be in. It requires no brains and no qualifications to be a fault-finder. You do not even have to get a license. There are no qualifications to set up a fault-finding business. Faults are like the headlights of a car: those of others seem more glaring than your own. Should you criticize? Never!
Should you judge wisely? Yes! How do we know that? Look at 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." How are you supposed to know if your company is truly bad unless you judge that they are bad? You have to use good judgment. Let's face it, we must use good judgment every time we drive a car; when we quietly hear both sides before drawing a conclusion. Let's face it, you use good judgment every time you come to the McDonald Road Church, or you'd wind up in a ditch (narrow roads). We exercise proper judgment when we make wise financial decisions. If someone emails you with a hot tip saying that if you invest in a certain stock, you will double your money ignore it. Use good judgment! We all need good judgment.
I judge every day...dozens and dozens of times. So do you! Hundreds of times every day you form an opinion of something or someone. You have to do that. You would be the most gullible person in the world if you never used good judgment on the things of life. Talk about being fleece-able, the person who does not use good judgment is doomed to failure in almost every aspect of life, including religion.
Point number 3: Seek good judgment. Does that make good sense? Many times in my life I have prayed for good judgment. How else are you supposed to know who to date, to marry. How are you to know which car to buy? Now, you know which car to buy, don't you? A Chevy or a Ford. You know the answer to that question.
In Psalm 119:66, David said, Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in Your commands. It's good to have good judgment.
Isn't Jesus the One Who said that we can correctly judge a tree by its fruit? We're supposed to judge, aren't we. Jesus never intended us to judge one another from a haughty or hypocritical spirit or a life of personal sin, but from an impartial attitude. See Romans 2:1-3. But we ought to pray for good judgment. Good judgment comes from God. Good judgment also comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. This type of judgment is required when the nominating committee elects church officers. It is required when we elect government officials.
Maybe Jesus said, "Judge not" because so much of our judging is based on incomplete information. Partial information leads to incomplete conclusions. To judge another with incomplete information is like conducting a whole home inspection by looking through a keyhole. Never judge a summer resort by the picture post cards that they send out. To judge one another with incomplete information is like doing a whole-house inspection through the keyhole. We need all the information. And we, as human beings, will never have all the information. God does. Jesus said in John 7:24, Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. Get all the facts you can. Never judge a man's horse power by the size of his exhaust. Just don't do that. Don't judge him by what he says. Try to find out what he does, or why he said what he said.
Our granddaughter lives at home with us. And so often, I would say, "You know, you should try this peanut butter and banana sandwich." She would stick her nose up at it. Finally I got her to try it one day. And now, she loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Now I can hardly wait to get her to try a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich! Now don't judge ! Don't judge on incomplete information.
One community had a stingy tightwad. He was exceedingly miserly and widely criticized in the town. They called him, "Mr. Penny-Pincher." The people thought very badly of this man. However, after some time it was discovered that he had a disabled wife who could not go outdoors. And he had an invalid child. He had to have enough money to put food on the table and pay the rent and to keep things going. He was their only care giver and provider. He did indeed need every penny that he had. When the truth finally became known, the criticism turned to admiration. They had misjudged the man. It is impossible for us to know everything about anybody. Therefore we cannot possibly judge rightly. We need to go slowly about judging anybody.
What looks to our dim eye like a stain, when placed in the full light of God, may actually be a gallant, hard earned gallant scar. Don't judge them. I suppose that if we just have to judge someone, we might consider judging a man more by his questions rather than his answers. You can lessen your prejudice by trying to examine the contents and not the bottle.2 Don't look at the container.
But, Jesus said, "Don't judge lest thou be judged." Let me repeat that what I believe God is saying is this: Don't pass judgment on the eternal destiny of another human being. Does that make sense? Don't express criticism of someone else. Go very slow in condemning your neighbor. I think that is what Jesus meant. Don't judge another person until you have walked a month in his moccasins.
Point number four: Beating God to the punch. Are we to do that? Go slow in taking revenge against someone who has done you wrong to you. America is becoming a land of sewers. "A lawsuit is a machine you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.3 Oftentimes, lawsuits tear up relationships. Be careful.
So often we try to beat God to the punch. So often we take a vindictive attitude, "I'll just sue you," and retaliate against someone who did us wrong. Saint Augustine prayed, "O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself." Leviticus 19:18 says, "'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord'"
A lady walked into the airport and found out that she was early for her airplane, so she went to the concession stand and bought a book and a package of cookies to eat while she waited for the arrival of the airplane. She went to the gate where she was supposed to be. She sat down and put her things on the seat beside her and proceeded to read her book. Well, about that time a man sat down beside her with an empty seat between them. Suddenly it dawned on her the he was fumbling with the cookie box. He was actually opening her cookie box. She thought, "Of all the nerve! How can he do that? He's opening my cookie box!" She was shocked. She was speechless. He took one cookie and started to eat it. She thought, "Well, he's not going to eat all my cookies." So she took one and she ate a cookie. He took another, and she took another. "I'm going to eat my cookies, too!"
Finally it came down to one cookie. The man reached and got it. He broke it in half and gave her one half and he ate the rest. She was mortified. Finally the announcement came to board the plane. Once on board the angry woman could hardly believe what had happened. She reached into her purse for something and there was her box of cookies in her purse. It was still unopened. She began to think that back through, you know.
Why is it that we always assume we are right; "It was my box of cookies," she thought. We always assume the other person is wrong. We should hold our horses. If the exercise of jumping to conclusions could help our cardiovascular system, such folk would be models of health. When we pass judgment too quickly we place ourselves in a precarious and embarrassing position. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Check things out. Ask Questions. Don't jump to hasty conclusions. Better fitness can be gain by digging for the truth, than by jumping to conclusions.
Never judge your children's eternal destiny. Do you ever look at your kids and say, "My kid is lost, on the way to the hot place. There's nothing I can do about it." Don't judge you children's eternal destiny. Give them the benefit of the doubt. You might have them destined for hell and think all is lost when in all reality they are a growing child of God. Judge not! Maybe they are developing a saving relationship with God. Believe in your youngsters. Jesus is the proper Person to pass the final sentence on evil doers. God is the final Judge.
Revelation 14:7 says Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment is come. He is the judge. God is the judge. Adjudicating is God's job. God judges us with perfect knowledge, unperplexed certainty, and undisturbed compassion. That's the kind of a God we've got. If you are in the job of judging the eternal destiny of others, you're in the wrong job. You are assuming something that God lays claim to.
Notice two Bible synonyms used by Jesus: Luke 6. These are also the words of Jesus. The same wrds He used before, only it's slightly different here in Luke than it is in Matthew 7:1. Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." So don't condemn. If someone has misjudged you, you can do one of two things: either forgive or hold a grudge against them. Which would you rather do? Sometimes it's easier to hold a grudge, you think. Do you know what a grudge really is? Think of a grudge as a ball and chain tied around your leg. It has no impact on anyone but you. Get rid of that grudge. You can't make good forward progress in life tied to a grudge. It is only hurting you.
Sometimes we use the wrong yardstick for judging. A young woman dating a young man. Finally it was time for her to meet his parents. So she came to the house, but before she left she got dressed up nice. She got into some nice clean clothes and then she noticed her shoes. He black shoes were not exactly clean, so she grabbed the napkin that she had sued in the morning for eating her eggs and bacon and rubbed her shoes with it. Then she went to her boyfriend's house, and there were the parents and they invited her in. Lo and behold, the little poodle, a spoiled, cranky poodle. That dog got a whiff of her shoes. The dog followed her around all evening. He stayed right by her. At the end of the evening she was getting ready to leave, and the boy's parents said, "You know, little Cleo is a good judge of character. We are delighte to welcome you to our family."
John 7:24 says, Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. Yes you need to have good judgment.
Have you ever jumped to a hasty conclusion? Probably we all have. Things are not always as they first appear. Too often we have to eat crow. We harm others with our unkind words. We see something and spread an untrue rumor based on our faulty judgment. Let's go slow at that. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We usually see things not as they are, but as we are.
David praised Abigail because of her wisdom. 1 Samuel 25:33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. He was going to kill her husband.
You know, we could avoid a multitude of sins and evil and troubles, if we could just use sound judgment. Pray not only for sound judgment, but take away from you the tendency to criticize, to snap out at the telemarketers, and other things like that. Trust your future into the hands of a God Who knows how to correctly judge you. And pray that God will forgive you for the times you have misjudged others, cover your sins with His life.
I hope you are enjoying our "one another" series.
1. Deuteronomy 32:25.
2. The Talmud.
3. Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce.
Hymn of Praise: #70, Praise Ye the Father Scripture: Matthew 7:1-3 Hymn of Response: #412Cover With His Life
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last updated April 10, 2005 by Bob Beckett and Eric Koester.