|JUDGMENT & HYPOCRISY
Series: The Sermon on The Level - Part Three
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 19, 2020
Please stand with me - if you are able - as we come together before God and His word and let us read together Luke 6 - starting at verse 37:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
Why do you seek the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
Two Sundays ago we began studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Level - which He taught on the plain - or level area - on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus’ Sermon on the Level in which He levels with His disciples about what it means - bottom line - to be His disciple.
Which is the big picture of Jesus’ sermon that we need to hang on to: The heart level attitude and actions of someone who’s really following Jesus.
Not just being part of a crowd that comes to hear Jesus teaching and to get healed and to go on with our lives. Like so many come to church to hear something or experience something that will help them keep going. Which isn’t a bad thing. But that’s not what it means to be a full on disciple of Jesus. A follower of Jesus as Jesus calls us to follow Him.
A disciple is someone who seeks to be mentored - to be instructed - to become like his or her instructor. Someone who learns to so closely follow the teaching of the teacher that at the mind and heart level - in the manner of life - to see the student is to see the teacher.
Jesus has been teaching that to be His disciple means that we stop coming to God with our expectations of God and our definition of what it means to be “all in” with God - and we simply come. Agreeing with God that we’ve got nothing - nothing but our sin and our brokenness - to come to God with. That we are spiritual impoverished and desperate for what God offers to us in Christ Jesus.
Which requires a level of vulnerability and openness that most of us struggle with. Anybody else struggle with that? It is hard for us to let go of ourselves.
But that’s the beginning point - the heart level openness to God - of being a disciple of Jesus as Jesus is calling on us to be His disciples.
What Jesus is teaching - what we’ve been studying - are the attitudes and actions that He’s calling His disciples to live out. Jesus helping us to get open to God in the real time of where we live our lives. To process what that looks like for ourselves.
Coming to verse 37 - we’re going on with Jesus’ teaching.
Verse 37 - Jesus begins by laying out His main idea for this section: “Judge not, and you will not be judged;
Let’s be careful. Jesus’ isn’t saying that we need to stop using our brains in our relationships with other people - to pretend like we don’t notice their faults - to refuse to process the difference between truth and error - good and evil - right and wrong.
There are times when we need to exercise discernment. Discernment which is about helping others towards healing and wholeness with God. Which is about making wise choices as we come up against stuff in our own lives.
And let’s be careful. Judgment can be a good thing. Courts of law must enact judgment. Judgment - accountability - based on moral absolutes. There is absolute truth. God’s truth. And Godly wisdom that comes from.. God. His word.
There are times we need to speak that truth - even judging - discerning - the actions of others - to speak that truth in love. And to have that same judging and discernment shared with us. Mutual accountability before God.
We know this. We see this. A society won’t survive long if its people are tolerant or permissive of standards of behavior or attitudes that are based on arbitrary or a sliding scale of whatever the cultural norm happens to be at the time. Or if the judicial process is based on politics or some self-serving purpose.
There is a significant difference between exercising judgment and being discerning - and the self-focused “judge not” that Jesus is teaching about.
Knowing we’re better than everyone else because - well - we just are. And making sure that others don’t lose sight of our exalted holiness which gives us the right to judge and correct the faults and failures of others.
The Pharisees - in Jesus’ day - were the ultimate example of that level of spiritual arrogance. We get this.
But even they didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, let’s all become spiritual snobs.”
Meaning to be judgmental like Jesus is teaching about it is way to easy for any of us to go there.
We tend to think of the Pharisees as spiritual losers. The ultimate example of spiritual hypocrisy. But in a significant number of ways they were right on.
The Pharisees were intent on obeying God - on spiritually doing the right thing before God. They worshipped God. Studied God’s law. Spoke out in defense of God. Desired others to join them in obeying God.
Problem was they began to think of themselves as the spiritual elite. And others as being somewhat less than that. They even came down on Jesus - on God - because Jesus didn’t measure up to their standard of righteousness.
Which may be true of us. We may be well intentioned. But, it is way too easy for us to fall into the trap of seeing others through the lenses of our version of righteousness. What we know is a Godly form of music or dress or mannerism or language or service or lifestyle or whatever…
Which isn’t just limited to who we let into our little religious club - the clique of people we hang out with. Jesus is touching on our attitudes towards people we encounter as we move around the greater Merced metroplex just doing the stuff of life.
People who take their time at the check out - just yakking away while we’ve got places to go and people to see… Or people who drive like idiots while they’re talking it up on their phones. Just saying.
Jesus is talking about our attitudes and actions towards our spouses - our kids - the people at work or school.
“Condemn” translates a Greek word that describes mercilessly passing judgment. There’s no discernment in condemnation.
Our English word comes from the Latin “com” plus “damanare” - meaning to thoroughly condemn someone - even to everlasting punishment in Hell.
“Damn you” would be an accurate rendering. Not that any of us would ever think that or say that to someone.
To condemn someone means standing in the place of God as the Judge and judging someone else by our self-elevated standard of righteous behavior - judging others as worthy of damnation - forever.
Jesus: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned”
Which isn’t so much about people judging us or condemning us in return. Which they will. Justifiably or otherwise.
Anyone else ever have someone tell you where you can spend eternity?
Jesus’ is centering His disciples on God as THE judge. Their judge. Our judge. The only One who’s condemnation we justifiably deserve.
David sins with Bathsheba - committing adultery with the wife of Uriah the Hittite.
Nathan the prophet comes and brings before David - for David’s judgment as the king - Nathan brings the case of a rich man with a lot of sheep who steals the only ewe lamb of a poor man.
David explodes in anger - in judgment and condemnation: “The rich man deserves to die.”
Then Nathan utters the words: “You are the man.” (2 Samuel 11:1-12:23)
The Pharisees brought the woman they’d stalked and caught in “the very act of adultery.” Brought the women to Jesus. Demanded God’s decreed judgment to be enacted upon the woman. Death by stoning.
Instead, Jesus exposes their own sin. Their self-righteous judgment backfires before God. (John 8:1-11)
God sees where we’re at and God isn’t going to give us a bye on this. He loves us too much for that. God will hold us accountable for our attitude and actions towards others.
Jesus is teaching - giving real times examples of what we trend towards - to jerk His disciples - to yank us back to reality.
As a disciple of Jesus - if we’re coming to God who alone is THE righteous and holy judge - agreeing with God that we’re coming with nothing but our own brokenness and sin - and crying out for God’s grace and mercy - we need to daily - nanosecond by nanosecond - stay centered on who God is and who we are before God.
That reality should yank us back to humility before others not spiritual arrogance. That reality should be at the core of our attitudes and actions to those around us.
In contrast to judging and condemning - Jesus goes on: forgive, and you will be forgiven
To “forgive” - the word in Greek - has the idea of release - letting something go. It’s used of the extremities of divorce and death. Being totally cut off - released.
“Forgive” so that the connection that we have with whoever needs to be forgiven - that connection of owing us - of obligation - debt - is severed.
To forgive someone means completely and permanently releasing them from their obligation to pay up - or repair the damage - or whatever else we might have a right or think we have a right to hold them accountable for.
Those who forgive will be forgiven. Which isn’t so much about people forgiving us so much as Jesus centering His disciples on God and God’s forgiving us.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
When we come to God - agreeing with God that we’ve got nothing to come to God with but our own depravity and sin - we better be coming to God mourning over and repenting of our sin and crying out to God for God’s forgiveness.
Which He does.
When we come to Christ as our Savior, God forgives our sin.
What justifiably condemns us - God severs us from. It’s done. Finished. The debt - what we owe because of our sin - it’s paid for on the cross by the broken body and shed blood - the sacrificial death of Jesus for us and in our place. When we come to Christ as our Savior, God releases us from the debt of our sin.
There is no justifiable place for our spiritual arrogance in that forgiveness coming from God.
If we can begin to grab that and hold onto that - and daily - nanosecond by nanosecond - stay centered on that reality - what it means to be outrageously forgiven - rather than judging and condemning - we can begin to proactively forgive others.
Jesus goes on - verse 38: give, and it will be given to you.
Instead of judgment and condemnation… give. Give forgiveness. Give Mercy. Give grace. Give love. Give what God has given to you. That’s what a disciple of Jesus does.
Jesus describes how God gives - the example of how we should give: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Ever read seen this on a box? “This product sold by weight not volume. Some settling of contents may have occurred during the handling and shipping.”
Meaning when we open the box it’s only half full. Same weight. Same oversized box. Same price. Just way less stuff in the box.
Grain markets back in Jesus’ day - even today - true generosity is to fill the container - not loosely - taking up space with less product - making it seem like there’s more. But to keep shaking the grain - pressing it down - filling the container till it can’t take no more. It’s overflowing.
That’s how God gives. He keeps packing the box. Settling is only an opportunity to pack in more. Shake. Settle. Pack. Shake. Settle. Pack. Pressed in and overflowing.
That’s how we need to be giving to others.
Jesus teaches us. The same way we measure it out. God measures it back to us. And God packs the grain as dense as possible. Give generously.
Judgment and withholding judgment and condemnation and withholding condemnation - eternal damnation - forgiveness and giving - grace and mercy and love in overflowing abundance - that all is inseparably connected to God and our relationship with God and how God applies and supplies or could apply and supply all of those to our lives.
Which ultimately comes down to our trusting God to supply whatever we need - including justice and our ability to forgive others - verses our trusting ourselves to demand what we feel we’re entitled to and we desire for ourselves.
Which is Jesus bringing us back to the beginning point of a true follower of Jesus - a disciple of Jesus - agreeing with God that we’ve got nothing to come to God with but our own sin and brokenness. We are spiritually impoverished and desperate for what God offers us in Christ Jesus. And without any expectations or qualifications we simply come.
Going on - verse 39 - to illustrate His teaching Jesus goes on with some real time examples. The main idea in Jesus’ examples is to choose wisely who we’re going to follow.
First: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?
We can see what Jesus is getting at here. Right? [Pun intended]
The Pharisees saw themselves as guides to the blind. Lights to those who were living in darkness. They were the possessors and interpreters and teachers of the Law. The very embodiment of God’s knowledge and truth. Who corrected the foolish and taught the immature. (Romans 2:19-21)
When the disciples told Jesus that the Pharisees were offended because Jesus had called out the Pharisees saying they were only teaching their own traditions and not what God had actually commanded.
Jesus responded to His disciples: “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
Jesus’ point: Don’t follow them. Unless you like falling into pits.
Illustration number two: A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
At the age of 5 - a Jewish boy began synagogue school. By the age of 12 they’d have studied and memorized the Torah - in Hebrew.
By age 15 - they’d have studied and memorized the entire Hebrew Bible - the Tanakh - in Hebrew. What was a very intense and very thorough education in God’s word.
At the age of 15 - those who were in the top of their class would seek out a rabbi to study under - to become that rabbi’s disciple.
So if the rabbi approved - for the next 15 years that Hebrew boy - growing into manhood - would closely follow that rabbi to learn everything that rabbi did in a given day and how that rabbi interpreted Scripture.
It was a great honor - especially to be the disciple of a great rabbi. At the age of 30 - when you graduated - the imprint and reputation of that rabbi would be on you for the rest of your life.
A disciple is someone who seeks to so closely follow the teaching of the teacher that at the mind and heart level - in the manner of life - to see the student is to see... the teacher.
Jesus is teaching: Choose wisely who’s disciple you will become. A disciple of the blind or a disciple of Jesus. Who will you choose to follow?
Illustration number three is familiar: Why do you seek the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
The illustration is familiar. Yes? Our tendency to exaggerate the faults of others while minimizing or ignoring our own faults.
(cartoon) “Hah Hah. You just told him that he has a splinter in his eye, and you have a beam in yours.”
A “hypocrite” - the definition of the Greek word - a hypocrite was an… actor. Someone playing a role - not the reality of who they really are. A poser.
Jesus called out the Pharisees - called the Pharisees hypocrites. Men on a stage playing at righteousness but hiding their true selves. The sin and desperation for God within. Blind guides. Judging and condemning others. Arrogant and blinded to their own depravity and sin.
What may be hard to process is that here in verse 41 - Jesus is calling out His own disciples. He calls them out for being hypocrites.
Surely not the disciples? The Pharisees, yes. We get that. But the disciples? The followers of Jesus? Maybe even us?
In the places where we do life - we all live on a merry-go-round of judgment and condemnation. People not dealing with their own stuff. Blind - intentionally or otherwise - to our own faults and failures.
Caught up in this merry-go-round of judging and being judged and condemning and being condemned. No forgiveness. No living by the overflowing love and grace and mercy and forgiveness - the generosity of God.
What goes around comes around. And often bites back, hard.
Jesus is calling on His disciples to choose wisely who they will follow. What example will you follow? Who’s life will you seek to emulate? Who’s approval are you seeking?
Jesus is teaching disciples - and us - to come clean with God - to get off of themselves - to get humble before God and others.
The way off the merry-go-round is to - no trying to get back on - jump… by faith into the arms of God.
Processing all that.
There are significant implications in that for us. The first is how what Jesus is teaching exposes our tendency towards self-deception.
Take out your mental stylus and take a look at this list.
Thinking about each of these items - how would you rate yourself? Are you below average - average - or above average in each of the these areas?
My ability to get along with other people
My work ethic
My basic intelligence
How did rate yourself?
Of course now we’re all on the defensive - thinking we better not score ourselves too high - how many of you intentionally gave yourself a lower score than you first thought about?
We should all be proud of our humility.
Larry Osborne - in his book Accidental Pharisees - shares this list with this observation: “Give the list to any gathering of people. Ask them to rate themselves in each area… Here’s what you’ll find. One hundred percent of people will rate themselves as being above average in every category.” (1)
Which is impossible. Isn’t it? Average means that - by definition - at least a whole lot of us should be below average.
Some people are way too hard on themselves. But - let’s be honest - most of us - as we’re spiritually keeping score - most of us tend to cheat. To let ourselves off way too easy. To have an incredibly high view of ourselves.
Point being - in what Jesus is getting at here - is that with our tendency towards self-deception it is no wonder we think we’re in the top percent of what’s important - easily and often blindly trending towards a place of judgment over others.
Another significant implication in what Jesus is teaching is our tendency towards comparison.
Let’s be honest. We need to make comparisons. Ever have trouble deciding what to eat? Or where? Or what movie to watch?
But - spiritually - and relationally - the problem with comparisons is that we have no clue what’s going on inside a person. Right?
Oldie but goodie illustration: A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup to come out of the bottle - doing that whack in on the bottom thing. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone.
“It’s the pastor, Mommy,” the child said to her mother. Then she added, “Mommy can’t come to the phone to talk to you right now. She’s hitting the bottle.”
We look at the outside and make our judgment call. Where people are at spiritually - their commitment to God and His church - His ministry. How much time people spend reading their Bibles - or hanging with their kids - or how they manage their money - the kind of priorities they set for themselves.
The Pharisees looked stunningly righteous on the outside. Jesus - God Who knows our hearts - Jesus called them whitewashed tombs - diseased and decaying on the inside. (Matthew 23:27)
What Jesus is getting at here - the whole log in eye disease thing - is that a ton of our conclusions about people are just flat out wrong.
Jesus’ cure comes in verse 42: You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Most of us probably don’t like being called hypocrites - for all of the above reasons. But Jesus is honest. Even with His disciples.
Someone sent me this a while back: My son Zachary, 4, came screaming out of the bathroom to tell me he’d dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. So I fished it out and threw it in the garbage.
Zachary stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to my bathroom and came out with my toothbrush. He held it up and said with a charming little smile, “We better throw this one out too then, ’cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago.”
Jesus is honest. To the point. We need that. The cure for the common hypocrite suffering from log in eye disease - from the arrogance and actions of judging and condemning others - the cure is to get real with God - to grab a dose of reality and let God deal with our attitude. To get real about where our lives - where our hearts - are really at.
To get off of the merry-go-round and by faith throw ourselves at the foot of the cross and let God deal with what’s really going on our life.
Peter Kreeft is a Roman Catholic author - apologist - philosopher. Don’t know much about him. But this quote hits where Jesus is going. Peter Kreeft suggests this: “Hypocrisy is not the failure to practice what you preach but the failure to believe it.”
To not only talk the talk. But - from the heart level - to walk the walk.
That’s a challenge for all of us. Isn’t it?
Heading out of here into the drama of the days of our lives may we be real - real in our understanding of who we are before God - and keep that reality foremost in our minds and hearts in our relationships with others.
1. Larry Obsorne in Accidental Pharisees—Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith, Zondervan, 2012
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.