This week we must consider one of Jesus' most quoted teachings--"Judge not." It has been quoted most by those who understand it the least. What we need to remember is that as Kingdom-citizens, we need to take sin as seriously as God does and we must begin calling it out first in ourselves, and then in our fellow Kingdom-citizens. When we ignore our own sin but have no problem pointing out the sins of others we are hypocrites and have no business passing judgment on others. Jesus is not commanding us to never pass judgment on others. Instead, He is teaching us what Kingdom-judgment looks like, as well as how it is to be carried out--by Kingdom-citizens among Kingdom-citizens. Because of our human nature we pass judgment often and with very little hesitation, if any. Jesus knows this about us and it's for that reason that He instructs us to first examine ourselves, put to death the sin that abides within us, and then we can judge our fellow Kingdom-citizens from a place of love, and with the desire to help them remove the sin from their own lives. [For more examples of God calling us to judge sin, see: Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; and 1 John 4:1-6]
- What does judging sin in your own life look like? [How do I judge sin in my own life?]
- When you see sin in the lives of your brothers/sisters, what is your first inclination? Why?
- What offends you the most about this particular teaching by Jesus? Why?
- Why does God teach us how to judge properly?
When it comes to the sin of our brothers and sisters, we need to remember to approach it and them with the love of Christ, as well as if we were helping them remove debris from their eyes--with gentleness and thoroughly [Galatians 6:1-2]. When removing debris from an eye, gentleness is required lest we cause further damage. Likewise, we need to be as thorough as possible lest we miss something and the eye is left infected. The same is also true when we are dealing with our own sin. We need to treat the sin as God does--debris needing to be removed. We damage ourselves and others when our judgments are not made through the lens of God's righteousness and Christ's blood. Overemphasizing guilt leaves us deceived into thinking that we cannot judge the sin of our brothers/sisters. Misunderstanding grace causes us to "turn a blind eye" when our brothers/sisters are in sin. As Kingdom-citizens who are striving to image Christ, we need to always remember the seriousness of God's righteousness towards sin, as well as His love and gentleness through Christ by which He removes our sin and then helps us to grow and mature in our reflection of Him.
- When you judge your own sin, are you left feeling guilty and condemned? Why or Why not?
- How does God's grace free us from that guilt and condemnation?
- When you judge the sins of others, what are your true motives? Why?
- What does it look like to be thorough when helping a brother/sister with sin removal?
- Why is a proper understanding and application of God's righteousness, and Christ's blood important for dealing with sin?