Asbury United Methodist Church
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October 4, 2017

Have you ever considered how many judgment calls we make during any given day? It’s mind boggling!

          We decide how to dress, what to wear, that certain garments look better on us than others!  We decide what to eat, which route we must take to work, often which vehicle to drive; and, all of these judgments probably happen in just the first hour the day!

          But, more to the point, have you ever considered how many judgment calls we make with regard to other people daily?  This too is mind boggling.

          The theme of judgment was one motif covered in the film The Shack that we watched at church last night. It was a real eye-opener to consider how many different ways that we judge others, ceaselessly…all the time…and project our perception of worth upon them.

          Jesus tells us straight up not to do this:

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

           “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?  How 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?”

            You 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  (Matthew 7:5-7 NIV). 

               Wow!  At first glance it appears Jesus is taking us all to the woodshed!  But, let’s take a closer look.

           That word hypocrite sort of jumps out at you, doesn’t it? What’s that all about?  

  Well, sometimes it’s kind of fun to do a work study so that we can reach into the heart of matters. The word hypocrite is of Greek origin.

The English transliteration is hupokrisis. This word is formed from two other words: hupo meaning under and krinein meaning to separate. 

Just stay with me!  I am on a roll!  I am going somewhere!

These words are taken from the ancient Greek plays where an actor is pretending to be someone they are not! A role is being played that is separate and under or beneath one’s own standing in life.

To be a hypocrite is to offer up a false face to the world and demonstrate feelings, virtues and even beliefs that we do not possess. A hypocrite is merely an actor on a stage, a person being someone they are not!

So, to boil things down into modern language, Jesus is saying, “When you judge others, you are acting like a clown! Cut it out! You are lowering yourself beneath what God has designed you to be; and, it is not attractive on you!”

The real Greek tragedy is that God knew exactly what he was doing when he designed you; and, God does not make mistakes, yet we behave as if we are somebody else! God was intentional when he knit us together in our mother’s womb and intends for us to live within our grace.

God has designed us for much more than being hypocrites, play actors!   Maybe today is a good day to begin the process of reducing our judgment calls on others and focus more on what God designed us to be. 

My Granny was right, “Stick to your own knitting!”

Maybe today is a good day to realize that God has a glorious life planned for us as we live into our grace which is the potential that is God’s vision for our lives.

Oddly, I ran across a telling verse of Scripture in the book of Ecclesiastes this morning:

“And, I saw that all labor and achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV).”

Yesterday, I mentioned the sin of comparison. At the heart of the sin of comparison is judgment.

The Teacher is saying that it is meaningless to be motivated by envy of one’s neighbor. Why?   Because God has different, wide-open plans for each of us and we are doomed if we get bogged down in this venue.

I will end with a quote from Frederick Buechner, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Judging is really hard work! Maybe today is a good day to just let Christ do the heavy lifting!

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