Tag Archives: grace

Judgment of Grace

7 Apr

Getting back on track with going through the book of Matthew looking at one chapter a day means that today I’m looking at chapter 7:

1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

So my first thought it that this passage is saying that we can’t judge. It almost seems to be a total loss to exercise any kind of judgment because we will be judged to the same degree. If so then wouldn’t it be best never to say anything to anyone so that God will never say anything about you? I think the teaching in light of the whole gospel isn’t that judgment itself is wrong but the heart that is behind it may be. We make judgments all the time about what is good and what is bad. We make judgments not to walk blindfolded in traffic, not to let kids eat desert for breakfast and to not put our finger in light sockets. There are all kinds of things that we say with passionate sincerity for the good that should be off limits.

Paul makes it quite clear that judging isn’t a bad thing however what he points out is something that modern Christianity has seemed to get backwards. He doesn’t talk about Christians judging the world who are not a part of the church. He says that this is God’s job. Where he does say we are to judge are those who are inside the church that claim to represent and be the body of Jesus.

Jesus describes the process in which we are to confront those who are part of the family of faith in Matthew 18:

15″If your brother sins against you,[b] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[c] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

So if someone wrongs you then you are 1) go to this person privately and keep this just between the two of you 2) if that doesn’t work then you bring another person into the conversation 3) if that doesn’t work then the community confronts them 4) if that doesn’t work then you let them go.

But we’ve heard horror stories of people kicked out of churches by cold hearted leadership. People in power using guilt and shame to scare people who may have made mistakes and instead of finding a pathway to healing have found condemnation. So what should be the posture of our heart as we speak into the lives of others who claim the title of Christian but are not honoring him with their lives?

In 7:3-5 he talks about someone with a plank in his eye judging someone with a speck in his. It’s a way of saying that consider your sin to be as a plank and speak with that humility to the speck in the eye of another. It means come with a humble, grace saturated heart as you talk with this person about what they are going through.

In Matthew 18 he tells a story of a person that owes his master a Bernie Madoff size debt. He will never be able to pay back but grovels promising he can. His master amazingly says that the debt is canceled. This forgiven debtor then finds someone who owes him the equivalent of a few months back rent and has him thrown into prison. When the master who forgave such a great debt hears this he has this man thrown into prison to pay back every penny, which is quite evident from the debt that he never will. It means, that when you talk with a person understand that you have a Bernie Madoff kind of debt called sin that is forgiven. So when you confront this individual consider them a person that you are trying to awaken to the same kind of grace you woke up one day to receive.

So when you go to confront someone ask if you are sitting down to put them in their place or desiring to wake them up to grace? So when you go to confront someone have you made it a habit of rehearsing and replaying the constant errors of others or are you intimately aware of your shortcomings and failures and dire need for grace and inviting someone to join you in this level playing field?

A heart that deals and speaks with grace can do this freely and clearly with others knowing that the only judgment that they will receive in the end is a judgment of grace.

Matthew 20

20 Feb

Matthew 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

At the point that you begin to say “that’s not fair” you have reached the moment that you begin to understand grace.
At the moment that you begin to offer people what they don’t deserve you have reached the moment you begin to live out grace.

When Israel was delivered from Egypt they were given what we call the Ten Commandments. But the commandments don’t begin with a “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not” but a reminder “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery (Exodus 20:2).” They begin with grace. While you were slaves, I set you free. When you could do nothing for yourself and when you had earned nothing for yourselves I set you free.

This grace narrative was to shape the way that they treated others:
Deuteronomy 6:21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.”

They were to not go over there fields again and again but they could harvest once and then allow those in need to live off their crops. They could have argued. We planted. We watered. We protected the field from birds and other pests. They could have said “that it’s not fair!”

Kind of like Egypt?

Grace is the great reversal. It allows those who are last to be first. And it is a warning that those who cling to the narrative of having to be first that they will be last.