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Dear Church,
 
This morning, I was drawn by the Bible verses about judging others. Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2, “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you”.  Jesus says again in Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”.  Again, James says in 4:12, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”  Now, we all know one of the main criticisms against Christians is that we are a group of judgmental people, and our critics are prompt to point out all the verses about judgement.
 
We need to understand that the Bible’s command not to judge doesn’t mean that Christians should not show wisdom and discernment.  After Jesus gave the command, “Do not Judge” he tells us a few verses later (Matt 7: 15-16) to watch out for false prophets and goes on to say, “by their fruit you will recognize them”.  In fact, a few verses before this Jesus says do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matt 7:6).  So, the real question is how do you spiritually discern who are the “dogs” and the “pigs” and who are the “false prophets” without making a judgement call on their character?  So, we see here Jesus is allowing us to make a judgement call on doctrines and deeds, he is telling us it’s ok to make a call about right and wrong.  So, what is the judgement against which the scripture points to? Jesus gives us an answer in John 7:24 where he says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly”.  Two things stand out; Jesus gives us permission to Judge correctly, and he tells us to STOP judging by mere appearance.  So, the bible is clear, we are not allowed to make a judgement on the superficial.  Jesus rebuked Simon the Pharisee for his Judgement of the women based on her reputation and appearance (Luke 7:36-50).  The Bible also teaches us that any self-righteous judgement is wrong.  We see in the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14), the Pharisee was bragging about his own righteousness and from that pedestal he was judging the tax collector.  Jesus said the tax collector went home justified before God.
 
Galatians 6:1 tells us to ‘gently restore’ a brother or sister who has been in sin. Matthew 18: 15-17 is clear that we have to practice church discipline.  The bible is also clear that the truth of God needs to be dispensed anchored in love (Ephesians 4:15).  Here lies the key as redeemed people, we are forgiven, loved, and filled with hope. This is the sweet aroma of Christ we are to spread, sometimes unforgiveness and hate can sway us into judging people.  Here our judgement becomes hypocritical, self-righteous, and superficial.  This is a dangerous place to be.  At this place we are just as miserable and dead inside as when we were lost.
 
On a separate note, a few people asked me about the ‘state of theology survey’ I mentioned during the sermon. Here is a link to it:
 
https://thestateoftheology.com/data-explorer/2022/3?AGE=30&MF=14&REGION=30&DENSITY=62&EDUCATION=62&INCOME=254&MARITAL=126&ETHNICITY=62&RELTRAD=62&EVB=6&ATTENDANCE=254&mkt_tok=MTg5LUpMQS0yMTYAAAGHeoGt5-0VC5LZbIWIQQ_h_l53GP8LdN7q1lvZmOZvB8S5O9wNHl9fUqdmDb7KllVcImBy9MNOSrZSAolfBnRhBzwJm05yawMY0ULNQybB4pt5
 
Be Encouraged,
Mathews

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