Pastor's Blog

February 2016

Don't judge me!

“Don’t judge me! Don’t you know that the Bible says, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged!’?” How often isn’t this the response you get when you tell someone that something they are doing is wrong? People try to point out that Jesus tells us not to judge, but is that really the case?

Did Jesus say “do not judge”? The answer is yes, and no! Yes, Jesus spoke those words in Matthew 7:1. But no, Jesus was not telling us not to judge. When you are reading, don’t just stop with verse 1, but read the entire context of those words. Jesus said, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

Jesus’ point here was not to tell us never to make a judgment about the way someone is living, but rather to tell us to first judge our own hearts and lives and then we can be ready to judge another.

How do we do that? What is the way that God wants us to judge? Listen to Jesus’ words in John 7:24, “Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.” Our judgments are not to be made because of what we like or what we prefer; rather our judgments are to be made based on righteous judgment. What is the only way we can have righteous judgment? Our judgments need to be based on the Word of God.

In the biblical use of the word, to judge is to take someone’s words and/or actions, line them up with God’s Word, and reach a conclusion, a judgment: Has sin taken place or not?

Jesus’ encouragement here is to first line up your own words and actions with the Word of God, see where you have sinned, then (and only then) are you ready to line up the words and/or actions of another so that you can make a proper judgment.

Why should we do this? Why should we judge ourselves and others? In Luke 17:3-4, Jesus says, “Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

The purpose of judging each other is not to make one another feel bad. No, the purpose of judging should always be so that we can point out sins, lead each other to repentance, and then announce God’s forgiveness. For as the Apostle Paul reminds us, that is the reason that Jesus came to this world: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).


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More than an Emotion

Love is emotional, yet love is not merely an emotion. However, if you took a survey asking people to define love, I would guess that the majority of the responses would focus on emotions. When people think about love and try to describe it, they often focus on how love makes them feel. Our world tends to focus on the emotional side of love. Love is something that people fall into. Love is often described as the butterflies a person feels deep inside when they are around that special someone they care so much about. Yet, love is much more than emotions.

Thinking about that, would the survey answers change if the survey respondents were asked to specifically define love not using the example of a husband and wife, but rather to define love using the example of a parent and a child? Have you ever heard a mother say to her child, “I will always love you! But that doesn’t mean that I have to like you right now!”?

Love and emotions are not identical to each other. We often equate love with positive emotions. Yet, love doesn’t always feel emotionally positive. Human emotions are often like a rollercoaster; they go up and down. One day you might be feeling quite high; the next day you might be feeling quite low. Yet, no matter how you feel, love is still there.

How can that be? Love is more than an emotion. Yes, there is an emotional aspect to love, yet true love is much more than that. Think about what we are told in 1 John 4:10, “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Do you think that God felt good about the fact that his people, whom he created, chose to sin by disobeying him? Absolutely not! Why would he? Yet, God still loved the world. Love was not a feeling but a choice. God chose to love the world. His love showed itself in action. God sent his Son to pay the price for the sins of the world. God’s love was most fully displayed as Jesus willingly went to the cross to die.

It’s because of the love that God had for us that we can love. A few verses later in John’s letter we read, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

How do we display that love? Not in our emotions, but in our actions. Most Christians think of 1 Corinthians 13 when they think of how love is described in the Bible. If you would take time to go and read that chapter, notice how love is described there. The descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13 are not focused on emotion, but rather on action. “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boatful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

May God lead us to see his love shown to us at the cross, and thus respond with love to one another that shows itself, not merely in our emotions, but rather in our actions.

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Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. ~ 1 Timothy 1:15