[Presented in church: April 7th 2018]
I had a different topic in mind for this week, but while I was driving down the highway, I couldn’t get this idea out of my head, so God gave me the topic. I’d like everyone to open their Bibles to Matthew 7 and while you do that, I’m going to tell you a short story.
A man went hunting for deer. It was early in the morning, and the sun had just come up, but it was still a little dark. His eyes were not good due to his age, but in the distance he could see a beautiful deer, and needing the food, he raised his gun and shot it. When he got to the deer, he realized that it was a doe and not the buck that he had a license for. At that moment a game warden appeared and the man was charged with poaching, because he had shot the wrong type of deer. When he appeared before the judge, he gave the following defense.”Your honour, while the deer shows all outward signs of being male, do you really know what is on the inside. Maybe the deer felt that it was always a doe stuck in the body of a buck. It had all the outward signs of a male, but inside it was fully female.”
Now we’ll never know the result of the trial, but the man was before a human judge being judged by man’s laws. I’ve also been in that position and suffered the consequences of man’s laws. Only God, however can truly judge us. In Matthew 7 starting at verse 1 we read: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
One of the things that all people do is judge others, while forgetting that they are also being judged. It is not our place to judge someone else’s actions or deeds, we need to leave that up to God. Too often we hear others speaking about the way someone dresses, or talks, or acts, or does just about anything, but in doing so we are going against what Jesus tells us.
Christ’s disciples understood this as Ellen White tells us in Christ Object Lessons page 213: The disciples of Christ did not venture to express their ideas until they had heard the opinion of their Master. He had given them pointed lessons in reference to judging other men’s characters, and measuring retribution according to their finite judgment. Yet they looked for Christ to denounce these men as sinners above others. Great was their surprise at His answer. Turning to the multitude, the Saviour said, “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” These startling calamities were designed to lead them to humble their hearts, and to repent of their sins. The storm of vengeance was gathering, which was soon to burst upon all who had not found a refuge in Christ
So it the first disciples, the ones who were closest to Christ shouldn’t judge others, then certainly we shouldn’t either. Eventually God will either change the heart of the person, or they will be lost. We can advise and influence, but it is still between God and the individual as whether they actually change.
We are all in the church for different reasons, some were born into it while others came to it in times of trials. As we walked through the doors for the first time, we looked around and saw other people who were struggling as we all do. We are all struggling to be perfect in God’s eyes and we are all not succeeding. Some show outward signs of their failure, while others hide their failures on the inside where only God can see them. By keeping them hidden from man’s eyes the judgement of man doesn’t fall upon them.
Those who wear their failures on the outside, however, are judged by their peers whether they know it or not. When the Apostle Paul met Christ on the road to Damascas and was ultimately baptised in the city by Ananias, Paul was far from perfect. He had just begun his Christian journey, but Christ knew he was ready to begin the required changes. Christ could judge his character, but Ananias, knowing Paul’s history, was forbidden from placing his judgement upon him!
In Acts 9 starting at verse 11 we see: And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
Ananias questions Jesus, because he knows Paul’s outward character and fears what will happen, but Jesus explains:
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Jesus knew that Paul was not perfect, but knew what was going to happen. Baptising him was just the start of his journey. What Paul became, with the support of Christ behind him, was one of the greatest apostles and Christians in history, he was instrumental in the formation of the early western churches. If Ananias was permitted to instill man’s judgement upon Paul, then we would have lost his wisdom, and the church would have failed!
Man sees the outside, God sees the inside. If we allow ourselves to judge others on their behaviour or attitude, we are doing so only from our knowledge. Instead, we should welcome everyone and through love and education, bring people to God and let Him make the necessary changes inside the people.
So I saw two “tweets” or comments that really caught my eye. One was in reference to the alleged affair of Donald Trump and a adult movie star. A pastor (not adventist) tweeted that “The funny thing is that Donald Trump is still president and she is still a hooker.” As a pastor, in my opinion, his comment was extremely inappropriate and judgemental against the woman.
The other was just after Stephen Hawking, a known atheist and denier of the existance of God, died, a tweet announced, “Today Stephen Hawking discovered how very wrong he was about the universe.” This sparked a storm of tweets condemning him for his views. While I may not have agreed with his ideas of the none-existance of God, it was not my place or anyone else’s place to judge those ideas. God will be the judge, and who knows, maybe Hawking repented at the last moment of his life and accepted Christ.
I’ll close with another short quote from Ellen White from Christian Leadership page 59:
The work of judging his brother has not been placed upon any man. “Judge not,” the Saviour says, “that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” He who takes upon himself the work of judging and criticizing others, lays himself open to the same degree of judgment and criticism. Those who are ready to condemn their brethren, would do well to examine their own works and character. Such an examination, honestly made, will reveal the fact that they, too, have defects of character, and have made grave blunders in their work. If the great Judge should deal with men as they deal with their fellow workers, they would regard him as unkind and unmerciful.