Um, Bro Dave…I think you got the title turned around.
It should read self-righteous and judgmental, shouldn’t it?
Yes, if you mean to describe how most Christians act.
I mean to describe how most Christians should be!
Too many Christians have the spiritual gift of criticism…huh? That’s not a spiritual gift? Let’s check:
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:7-10)
By golly you’re right! Perhaps we need to add criticism to the Apostle Paul’s list? I mean everywhere I go and most things I read these days from Christians is criticizing and quarreling with one another. And of all the one another’s in the New Testament, criticizing isn’t one of them.
I can tell you that in the last few years I’ve never seen so much brotherly fratricide in all my life.
Trust me, I know!
It takes one to know one. Just call me Ol’ Plankeye.
It is just like our Lord to make the teachings in His Sermon on the Mount get more difficult as He preaches. Thought loving your enemy and not worrying about money was tough? Try this one on for size:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 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? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
The Lord has convicted me so thoroughly this morning in this passage I could just stop right now and trust the Holy Spirit to do the same work on each of you. And I pray He does, but let me share what He gave to me.
Let’s consider quarreling like a fire at our neighbor’s house. Two or more Christians are going at it and the fire is beginning to ignite real nice. Most neighbors would call the fire department and grab their buckets and hoses and start pouring water on it to try and put out the fire.
Me? I bring my gasoline can to throw on the fire and get that bugger burnin’ real good! You see I not only have the spiritual gift of criticism, I am holy self-righteous and divinely judgmental. Now I can assure you that this holiness and divinity is not of Christ.
And yet I am to stand in the gap for Jesus and be the salt and light He taught me in Matthew 5. So where’s the balance?
Go back to my title of this devotional. Up to this point in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has already taught us how to be righteous. Now He is teaching us how to be self-judgmental.
When I use my judgment, I am to begin with myself. So am I not to judge anything else? No, we are to use wisdom in discerning issues and people and the Bible is very instructive in this. However, all judgment begins with me.
Verse 1 in Matthew 7 seems somewhat confusing: judge not, that you not be judged. This type of judgment is an eternal judgment. This is more of a warning than a forbiddance. Jesus is telling us I am going to judge you with the judgment you use. I’ve said it many times before, “Be careful of the standards you set for others; you just might have to live up to them one day.” And this is exactly what Jesus is saying.
Okay, cool, so if I don’t judge people Jesus won’t judge me? No, He is the Righteous Judge and Christians will stand before the Bema Seat and give an account of their lives. The unsaved will stand before King Jesus, the Lion of Judah, at the Great White Throne of Judgment.
What our Lord is saying is in the light of Scripture, the measuring rod of absolute truth that I describe as a morality ruler, if I will judge myself by heavenly standards then I will be ready for that day when I do stand before Christ. Will I be ashamed for some things I’ve said and done? More than I care to think about, but if I will purpose in my heart today to live a holy and righteous life unto the Lord then I am becoming righteous through my self-judging.
Not only that, if I treat others poorly, they’ll treat me poorly. If I’m always running around making sure I let people know what I think of them, should I not expect the same treatment? With the measure I use, it will be measured back to me. Look at what David wrote in Psalm 15:
“LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend…” (Psalm 15:1-3)
WHAT?!!! NO BACKBITING??!!!
I imagine many got up and left at this point. I know they would in many churches across America if preachers actually preached this way.
Beloved, some of my worse moments in my Christian walk is when I am backbiting, quarreling, and going after folks. I shared this with my Sunday school class a couple of weeks ago that all this time I’ve been going after the false teacher Joel Osteen the Lord finally asked me a question. “Dave, have you ever prayed for Joel Osteen?”
I can add to that list Barack Obama, Rahm Emmanuel, Eric Holder, and all other enemies of the state. Well Bro Dave, are you saying you’re going to pray for them to succeed? NO! I need to pray that all of these people get saved! The Honorable Judge Paul Pressler, speaking at our NFRA luncheon in October 2009, said if you want to see a change in Washington, then pray they find Jesus. For that matter if we would only send solid Christian men and women to Washington and the state capitals across the country then we’d be praying for their strength and not their salvation. But that’s another story for another time; more on that in the coming months.
But back to me…Ol’ Plankeye. When I got this big old piece of wood sticking out of my eye and I am trying to minister to others in their faith struggles, it might just be me, but I’m thinking that plank is a distraction for them. Wouldn’t you? It would be like me telling people they need to lose weight without ever mentioning myself.
You know what is so dangerous about this? Is I really intend to and believe that I am doing good. I am self-deceiving myself. The Apostle Paul put it best:
“For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3)
Do you know when I am running my mouth or beating my keyboard with self-righteous indignation, I basically have little or no Christian witness. Look what James said:
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” (James 1:26)
Useless? Lord, that’s not me! I mean I’m not doing this out of sin, you know my heart!
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
The Lord is teaching me that all my judging and self-righteousness is robbing me. I think I am rich and yet I am spiritually poor. I have become a member of the Laodicean church:
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—” (Revelation 3:17)
That’s the verse following the one where Jesus says He wants to vomit me out of His mouth. Verse 17 is the reason I make Him sick to His stomach.
Have I confused you? Are you thinking you can never judge someone ever again? If so, that was not my intention nor is it Jesus’ teaching. Monday we will look at what Jesus teaches about judging others.
But will you not join me this weekend in judging ourselves? Will you not with desperation and a dehydrated spirit seek the Lord’s refining fire and allow Him to burn these impurities out of us? Oh, can’t you imagine the relief you, me, will feel once that plank is removed from our eyes?
Pray for me; I’ll be praying for you. May the Lord richly bless you this weekend. May you willingly bless Him. Karen and I saw a great bumper sticker last Monday. It said, “America bless God.” Kinda turned around, like the title of this devotional, isn’t it. But oh how we need both.
Have a great weekend and please remember to go to church on Sunday.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers