Sermon on the Mount - Sermon #11 - Do Not Judge
Rev. April S Blaine, Given on Sunday, October 6, 2013
Before I was a pastor, I was working as a high school teacher down in North Carolina. One afternoon, after a particularly challenging day where my students had tried my patience in every way imaginable – I was sitting down with another colleague bemoaning my frustrations.
He listened patiently.
And then he smiled and said, “You know, this job would be really easy… if it weren’t for all those students.”
I laughed both at the ridiculousness of the statement but also how true it was.
The hardest part of most of the things we deal with in the world today – has to do with how we deal with each other.
People are difficult. Relationships are complicated.
And learning how to live together at times – can seem to be impossible.
(And I’m not just talking about the US govt.)
Jesus has invited us to live into the kingdom. To be transformed from the inside out.
To live out of a heart of love and to avoid the temptations to worry – about the approval of others – or about our accumulation of stuff.
But before Jesus is ready to issue the call to action – before he is really ready to ask us whether we are willing to live this way – he has to deal with one more piece.
Do not judge, lest you be judged.
For by the measure you …
The more we spent time together – the more we will begin to see each others flaws.
It’s the reason that a passionate romance can fizzle in a matter of months.
It’s the reason why roommates can sometimes have very strained relationships.
And it’s the reason why some children grow up to hate their parents.
And as the flaws in others begin to be revealed – we often respond in different ways – we can choose to focus on their flaws. Or we can choose to focus on them as a person.
We can choose to judge
Or we can choose to love.
To highlight the ramifications of this choice -
Jesus likes hyperbole – and so he uses a very powerful image here.
When we choose to judge – when we choose to focus on the flaws.
It’s as if we are fixated on this tiny speck in their eye –
While There is a log in our own eye.
It’s a ridiculous image.
and WE end up looking ridiculous and hypocritical
This – Jesus says is what you look like when you choose to judge -
We were talking about this with the Tuesday bible study group – and we said – OK – we aren’t to judge –but what do we do? We have loved ones in trouble. Headed down a bad path. We have people who are teaching really bad theology.
There are people who behave badly. And someone needs to do something about it.
People really do make some serious mistakes – they need to know that what they are doing is hurtful or wrong.
Isn’t it the loving thing to do to point it out?
Jesus knows that we have a tendency to get confused around this - when it comes to choosing to love someone and to do it in a way that is actually helpful.
Do not give what is holy to dogs.
Do not offer your pearls to swine.
Otherwise they will trample them and turn and maul you.
What would a pig do with pearls?
What a pig needs is care – food and sustenance – things that they can use – if you – instead make the choice to feed them pearls – don’t be surprised if they trample them and then turn in frustration toward you.
When we love someone – we do not give them something useless.
We don’t offer them something that is unhelpful.
Jesus does have a few suggestions for us – because the truth is – when people around us are doing outrageous things – and when they are hurting themselves or us or others – we DO feel compelled to act.
So Jesus gives us something to do –
Ask and you shall receive.
Seek and you shall find.
Knock and the door will be opened unto you.
What is the posture of a person when they are judging?
What is the posture of a person when they are asking?
If we are to choose love, We are wise to think about the posture in which we are approaching this person.
I had a remarkable lesson on the power of how this changes things this past month.
Summit is in the process of purchasing a new software that will allow us to more efficiently and effectively handle our membership data.
Lucy and a number of others spent a good amount of time researching the best software out there and finally decided on the one we wanted.
Just before she was about to finalize the plan, she received an unexpected email from the sales rep – saying that there was a statement of belief that we would have to sign before obtaining the software. The statement of belief essentially said that we would were not allowed to teach an open and affirming theology toward those members of the LGBT community.
So, Lucy brought this to staff meeting.
And I have to confess – that my first response – was – well, to heck with them. What a bunch of jerks. If they don’t want to do business with us – then I don’t want anything to do with them.
But – Lucy in her wisdom encouraged us to talk about it.
Yes, this was disappointing – but these are people that we’ve been building a relationship with – what if we ASKED them to be in conversation with us? To explore the possibility of a statement of belief that was different?
Perhaps, she said – this is an opportunity for us to be a witness of God’s radical love and inclusion.
And I knew she was right.
So we set up a skype call with our whole staff and this sales rep.
And we talked. We shared our story as a congregation – we talked about what was happening in this place and why we wouldn’t be able to sign their statement.
But we also told them that despite this difference –we were still willing to be in partnership and community – as people who love Jesus and as people who are a part of the Body of Christ.
And a surprising thing happened. He listened. He asked questions. He genuinely offered care back to us.
And if the decision had been his – I think we would have been able to work together.
Unfortunately the decision wasn’t his – and the upper authority did not allow for us to sign a different statement.
The result was the same – we didn’t end up going with the company.
But I was different. Something about the posture of asking – had helped me – to choose love – in this situation. To focus on the person that I was talking to – not just his theology.
And at the end of it – I didn’t feel angry or self-righteous.
I actually felt love for this young man and I will continue to pray for him and his ministry.
At the end of this section, Jesus wraps it all up in a sentence – we know all to well.
Do to others what you would have them do to you.