Judge Not, That You Be Not Judged
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 Isa 58:6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
 11 The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
 12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
 Ro 14:1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
 4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
 11 For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."
 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
 Mt 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.
 2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
 3 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
 5 "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
 6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

You can’t read our Scripture readings for today without finding the common thread of “judging others.” In the reading of Isaiah we are warned to remove the “pointing finger” from our midst. In Romans 14 we are warned to not judge others in non-essential matters, and in the Gospel reading Jesus tells us, “Judge not, that you be not judged!”

But what does this “judging” that Jesus is talking about look like?  We’d better know, because if we engage in this kind of judging, we will be judged ourselves, and as the writer of Hebrews states:

 Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

“Judge not, that you not be judged,”  is quoted more often than any other passage by those who would seek to gain a little “wiggle room” with the Word of God.  In our world today, the minute a believer speaks out about homosexuality, fornication, divorce, or abortion, he usually has that verse thrown back in his face. “Judge not, lest you be judged!” But who's pointing the finger now?

Well, that’s what we get for giving what is holy to the dogs. That’s what we get for dispensing grace cheaply! That’s what we’re talking about here. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus follows His discourse on judging with this admonition to not give what is holy to the dogs or to cast our pearls before swine?

Let’s look at this last verse before we get into the nitty gritty of judging others. What is Jesus referring to when he says, “That which is holy, and what are these “pearls” that He is talking about?

In Mt 13:45,46 Jesus tells us:

 Mt 13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
 46 "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

That which is holy and priceless are all those things that belong to the Kingdom of God. And all those things flow from God’s grace. And God’s grace is both holy and priceless.  God’s grace is holy, it is set apart by Him. Though it is available to all, not all receive it.
The Bible tells us that God’s grace is only given to the humble.  Only the humble are able to receive it.

 Pr 3:34 Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

While we are to be dispensers of grace, channels of grace, we are not to dispense God’s grace until the swine or dogs (unbelievers) have been sufficiently humbled and broken by God’s Law. So Law must precede Gospel.   

Isa 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Revival only comes to the humble and contrite. To try to bring it about without contrition is like casting pearls to swine.  True humility is not marked by a “ah shucks” attitude, but rather an attitude of contriteness. That is to say sorrow over sin, godly sorrow over any and all offenses toward God.  

Believe me, you'll know when you have this realization, because you will long to wear the necklace of His free forgiveness, rather than trampling it underfoot.
God’s grace is also costly....priceless as the finest pearl, for it cost Him the life of His only Son, who died for our sins that we might live. There is a cost in following Jesus, the merchant who found God’s kingdom of grace gladly sold everything associated with the ways of the world in order to be a citizen of God’s kingdom.

But  what do dogs and swine know about price and holiness?  What do they care?

A dog could care less that grace  was set aside for the humble. The swine could care less about the price paid for the pearls. Just gimme, gimme, gimme. grace, that’s all I want to hear. Don’t tell me about the holiness of God.

 And if the swine doesn’t particularly care for the pearls of God’s Word that you are throwing it’s way, it will turn on you and tear you to pieces, because you are not giving it what it wants to hear.  

What do those who have not truly been broken by their sin, know about the holiness of God and the cost of grace? Yet the church today seems content with just presenting one side of the picture. And if we would just stop and observe what is being done to God’s Word in the church, we would stop it immediately.
Because His Word, and subsequently His grace  is being trampled underfoot.

There is little difference between the behavior of the churched and the unchurched. The divorce rate is about the same, the abortion rate is fairly high, people live together and they are not married, homosexuality is tolerated, and foul mouthed gossiping church people don’t take a back seat to any of their secular counter-parts.

Why is that? It’s because the Law is no longer preached! And no one is being held accountable to the commands of Jesus that accompanied His gospel. No one is seeking to follow the teachings of Christ and the Apostles.

All we do is dispense grace. Never mind regretting that you are living like a dog or a swine, oblivious to the commands of Christ, just keep coming for the grace. No need to change! No need to be have godly sorrow over your sins. No need to change the way you’re living.  Here have some more pearls of grace to trample on.

Heaven forbid that we should proclaim what God’s Word says about birth control, or divorce and remarriage, or drunkenness, meeting the needs of the poor, or gossip........and so nothing is said,  and no action is taken, and the effects of these sins are reflected in the general church population.

We have a pig sty size mess on our hands because we have been doing the very thing that Jesus warned us not to do in Mt 7:6.  Honestly, we have beautiful buildings, expensive equipment, and we’re all dressed up in our Sunday best, but spiritually speaking...the church in America must look like a pig sty. It’s time we took that personally and started having some godly sorrow over our role in that.

The church has been giving that which is holy and priceless to those who have not come to the point of appreciating it. Where is the heartfelt cry of the sufficiently humbled sinner, “What must I do to be saved!” Where is the call to repentance heard from John the Baptist, Jesus the Christ, and the Apostles?

We are seeking to win the lost, without having them count the cost. That is just not the method of the Jesus and the Apostles! Read the Gospels! Read the epistles! See the emphasis of calling God’s people away from sexual immorality, lust, covetousness, greed, drunkenness, gossip, etc.

 A couple of years ago, Steve Camp had a song out called “Playing Marbles With Diamonds.”  The lyrics follow:

Waking up to a very different world. We got mud on our flag before it’s even been unfurled. Our heroes are falling and a leader is hard to find.
Oh the clock is running out, but we’re casting our pearls before swine.
“There’s a whole lot more than preaching to the choir, kneeling at the altar or paying our tithe. We’ve been treating God like He’s happiness for hire. We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds.

Isn’t it a shame how His name gets thrown around. We pat God on the back like a buddy from out of town. We thank the “man upstairs” for the things people praise us for. We give God the glory, but we’re happy to take the award!
There’s a whole lot more than raising lots of money, building our church and spreading our fame. Faith is just the dice that you roll to get lucky  We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds.

There are precious things of God and we must guard them with our lives. Like an unborn baby’s dreams (Fight for pro-life!)
Like a husband loves a wife. (Do all you can to uphold the sanctity of marriage God hates divorce!)

May the hope of His returning, may it purify our faith. (May we take His judgement seriously!)
As we hold on to His holy Word may the chaff be blown away!
Can we ever live up to the things we say we believe?
‘Cause the world is watching, they’re looking for some honesty.
We’ve been riding down a freeway instead of a narrow road.
We’ve turned a passion for the lost into a business of saving souls..
Playing marbles with diamonds. Playing marbles with diamonds.

Is it easy proclaiming God’s full truth? Is it easy restating the hard sayings of Jesus and the Apostles as it concerns how we should live? Not exactly. Should that stop us? Of course not! It was the way of Jesus and it ought to be our way too.

Never forget that Jesus was not just out there dispensing grace. He didn’t merely go into a town and say, “The kingdom of heaven is here, all you have to do is receive it!
It’s true, all you have to do is receive it, but He always preceded His gospel invitation with the call to repentance.

 Mr 1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

What did Jesus say before he handed out the pearl of the Gospel? He said “repent!”  The full gospel must always include repentance.  He was saying, “God’s grace is at hand, but before you receive it, you must repent, you must become contrite. God’s Word must work sorrow in your heart over your sin. Then you are ready for my grace! Then you are ready for My pearls.

 Once you understand this, you are ready for the true meaning of “Judge not, that you not be judged.”

Jesus was not saying that we don’t have the right to judge other’s sinful actions. That we don’t have a right to call sin, sin.We not only have a right, we have a duty to judge those who profess to be Christians.

Paul addressing the problem of a man who was committing incest as a member of the Corinthian church said in 1 Cor 5:12,13,
 1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?
 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."

Jesus addressed the matter of this kind of judgement in Mt 18:15-18

 Mt 18:15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
 16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'
 17 "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
 18 "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

This “judging in the church “ or church discipline thing must’ve gotten Peter’s attention because he asked Jesus in Mt 18:21, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Jesus didn’t mean 490 times, He meant the door to forgiveness should never be closed. And that is the meaning of this passage on judging not!. Jesus responded to Peter with this parable:

 Mt 18:23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  24 "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  25 "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  26 "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'  27 "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'  29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'  30 "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  31 "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.   32 "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  33 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?  34 "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

You see, we must always be open to forgive our brother. Or we will be judged with the same kind of unforgiveness. We must always be willing to believe that all men are capable of repenting.

Luke wrote in 6:37,

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

That is what Jesus was saying, when He said Judge not, that you not be judged.” It’s not that we are not allowed to point out faults, it’s that we must always leave the door open for reconciliation and forgiveness.  We must never write someone off as being beyond repentance.

The pointing finger mentioned in our reading from Isaiah, is not an accusing finger, it is the threatening finger of the umpire ejecting someone from the game. We must not do that! We must always leave the door open for repentance.

And if we can’t see that, it’s because we have a log of self-righteousness stuck in our eye. We are blocking God’s grace because we have replaced our God-given humility with pride. A pride, much larger than the speck of sin or pride in that other person’s eye.

The solution is remove the log of pride from your own eye. Humble yourself again. Confess your hypocrisy and self-righteousness to God. Remember that you are a sinner saved by grace. It is that heartfelt attitude that removes the log from your own eye so that you will have a fresh vision of God’s grace in dealing with you, so that you might help others to see that same grace available to them.

So the next time someone misapplies this passage of Jesus and they tell you that you should not judge them or others. You might say this, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that your sin was unforgivable. God’s door to repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation is always open. He did not close it to me, I dare not close it to anyone else.

Forgive me if I have given the impression that I had written you off as being incapable of repentance.  That would be judging on my part and it would be wrong, and Jesus makes that very clear in the verse that you just quoted. In fact, if I don’t hold that door of repentance open to you or any other person, I will be judged accordingly on the last Day.

Let me instead invite you to repent of your sins, think differently about them, turn from them,  and receive the pearl of great price. The salvation of your soul by grace alone.

And remember, unless repentance precedes the gospel. you are giving what is holy to the dogs, you are casting your pearls before swine. It is not, “The kingdom of heaven is near, receive it thoughtlessly!” It is Repent! Think differently! The kingdom of heaven is here. There is a big difference!

 Eze 33:9 But, if you warn the wicked of his way, to turn from it; if he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity. But you have delivered your soul. (You haven’t judged, you have  opened the door to repentance!)

 10 And you, son of man, speak to the house of Israel. So you have spoken, saying, When our transgressions and our sins are on us, and we are wasting away in them, How then shall we live?
 11 Say to them: As I live, says the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

God calls us to turn, to repent, and as people who have been given room to turn around, we must be willing to give others the same room. This is what is meant by “Judge not, that you not be judged.”

There was an old country song called, “Give me forty acres and I’ll turn this rig around.” It spoke of a beginning truck driver who needed a large area in order to turn his truck around. That’s what we are talking about here. Don’t write people off! Give people the room they need to come to repentance.  Because by the grace of God, it is absolutely possible for everyone to turn their rig around.

We proclaim God’s Law, so they see the need to turn the rig around, and we never weary of offering them God’s grace and forgiveness when they humbly seek it. God gave you forty acres to turn your rig around, how many acres will you give others? 7? 70 times 7? Or will you always keep the door open for repentance? Judge not, lest you be judged.