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Description: Do we find ourselves pointing out where others are wrong? Do we carry a load of trying to make others right? What is our responsibility?
Eyes On Jesus
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I would say about 20 years ago, we started to expound Romans and only God, I think, could time it like this. Would you like to look at the next verse?
Romans 14:10, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” Only God could time things like that. In the church at Rome, there were people who were saying, “Oh, he is a Christian and yet he is still behaving like a Jew, still observing the feast of tabernacles, still observing the Jewish Sabbath. How could he be a Christian and do that kind of thing?”
So, Paul is speaking to that, by God’s inspiration. He is saying, “Who are you to judge your brother? Or who are you to despise your brother or look down on him? Because we’re all going to stand before the judgment seat of God and you have no right to judge your brother here on this earth. Or today, it would be, “He’s a Christian and he thinks there shouldn’t be prayer in schools. How can he be a Christian and think that?” The implication is that the dear soul is not a Christian if he thinks like that. The implication is, “No, he is not a Christian.”
You’re questioning his relationship with God, and brothers and sisters, it’s not only us who say it but it’s in our own hearts. You know itís in our own hearts. We spoil the fragrance and the beauty of our own inner lives because we fill our minds with that kind of stuff.
You know, you may say, “Oh now brother, I don’t say that. I mean okay, so this person thinks that you should have nuclear weapons and I don’t see how you can believe you’ve nuclear weapons and be a Christian. Well, I don’t say anything. I just keep it inside.” Yes, but inside you spoil the cleanness of your heart by actually judging that other person. And judging is determining whether they’re right or wrong in their relationship with God or even suspecting that they’re not right in their relationship with God. That’s what judging is, loved ones.
You know, you who find yourselves doing it quietly and maybe say, “Oh yes, but pastor I don’t express it,” still you’re enduring all the pain. You remember, it was Miriam who endured pain when she criticized and murmured against Moses and God struck her with leprosy. You’re enduring all the spiritual leprosy, whether you say it or not.
If you begin to judge people in your heart determining, “This person is right with God because they do that, this person is wrong with God because they do that”, you begin to narrow your own heart and your own inner mind. God actually begins to allow a spirit of leprosy to come into your own life in relationship with him. So many of us move around with all these unclean wrong judgments on other people in our hearts.
Now, you may say, “Oh now brother, don’t you have to discern? You have to discern spirits.” Well yes, God’s word tells us you should be careful to discern spirits because there’ll be dangerous spirits that will come into the world. Spirits of anti-Christ and spirits of lawlessness and spirits of uncleanness will parade as if they’re holy spirits. So God tells us, in regard to any move that you’re making in your own life thinking, “Should I go into this direction? Should I join this company? Should I begin to move along with this group?” You should discern the spirit. You should test the spirits. But that’s in relationship to your own action. That isn’t in relationship to you telling other people what you think of somebody or whether you think this person is right with God or not. That’s just in regard to your own private action.
It seems loved ones that you have to do that. You have to listen to the guy on television. You have to listen to Reagan. You have to listen to Mondale. You have to listen to this person who tells you something and you have to discern, what is the spirit behind their words, so that you know wisely what to do in your own life — but that is different from judging.
Judging is setting up a pronouncement on a person’s life in relationship to their connection with God, either speaking it forth or just silently in your own heart — and God says, “Who are you to do that? Who are you to judge your brother?” I just remind you of the feeling of uncleanness we all have when we do it. You know it and I know it too.
As a young enthusiastic Methodist church member and my dad was on the church board. So of course when you got home for lunch, you always put things in the church right with your dad so that he would know how brilliant you were. Then at Sunday lunch, we would have the minister for dinner; that is, we cut him up and chewed him and ate him in front of dad. And dad would say, of course, we were wrong. We would really know we were wrong — but we criticized like young people do; criticized the church in how we would set it up and everything. Yet I have to admit, after it was all done, there was a feeling of uncleanness inside me.
The next time that I met the minister, the next time I met these people, I was kind of aware and conscious that I had kind of pronounced judgment on them. In a way, they might not feel any distance from me. But I felt distant from them and you know the same in your own hearts. You know brothers and sisters that God’s Spirit witnesses in your conscience that judging other people is wrong. It’s just wrong.
It’s wrong to think that you have to decide, is this person right or wrong before God? I’d ask you about the old saints that you know. Would you not agree that they are amazingly generous and magnanimous when it comes to this kind of thing? I had a grandmother that was an officer in the Salvation Army when William Booth was the General. She was a dear, saintly old woman of 85. Could I get her to judge anybody? No, her heart was most loving to everybody and even if you quoted somebody who was obviously a criminal, her heart was so loving towards them.
Isn’t it true that when you meet the old saints that you know — either old grandparents or old friends — you see a bigness and a cleanness and a refusal to judge other people about them. Of course, Jesus himself emphasized it repeatedly. It’s in Luke 6:37-45. We need to be thinking here of the loved ones in our work and the loved ones at home. They’re the people that we know and that maybe we have talked about.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. He also told them the parable: Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or, how can you say to your brother, ëBrother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,í when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.î
ìFor no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”
You know it speaks to each one of our hearts. Jesus is saying, “There might be a speck in your brother’s eye, sure there might be, but as soon as you begin to point it out in a judgmental fashion, you’re showing that there’s a plank in your eye and that plank will destroy you.” So the Savior says, “No, there is no place for commenting on somebody else’s relationship with God or judging him.”
Now, why is that wrong? Why is that wrong? First, because not even God does it in this present dispensation. Now if that surprises you loved ones, look at John 5:22, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.” The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son. In this present life, even God does not judge us. In fact in Acts, the Bible says, “He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world by a man whom he has appointed and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.” Not even God judges us in this present dispensation.
God has given every one of us here on earth a respite. That is a time when only one person will whisper, “You’re wrong with God. You’re wrong with God.” Or only one person will whisper, “That man is wrong with God. That man is wrong with God” or, “That woman is wrong with God”.
The only person that will whisper that is Satan. God himself will not do it. He does not judge any of us in this present earth and this present life. He has given us respite from judgment so that only one little voice will be able to speak to us. That is the voice of the Holy Spirit, who will come gently alongside and say, “You know that’s wrong yourself, don’t you? You know that’s wrong and do you realize your Father has changed you in Jesus and has made you like him. Now, believe that and rise up and follow him and trust him and he’ll make you like him.” That’s the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Loved ones, that’s the only voice that speaks in these days under the direction of God’s will. Even God himself does not judge you or me during this dispensation. He has given us these 70 years of earth life to find out what he has done for us in Jesus and during these days, he will not condemn us. He has fixed a day on which he will judge the world but until that day comes, he will not touch us.
If you have a son or a daughter — and I know this is hard for the parents — if you have a son or daughter that’s wrong, a son or daughter that’s desperately wrong, that is way way out from God and you condemn them either in your heart or in voice or you judge them in your heart or in voice — Satan’s spirit gets hold of that, brings it home to them as your condemnation, and hardens their heart so that when the dear Holy Spirit comes to them, they will not listen. That’s it. That’s the way it works.
You know it yourself. What brought you to repentance? Somebody who loved you despite what you were. You felt, “If they love me that way then I can afford to be myself. I can afford to be real.” That’s it. But every time you and I judge another person, either a mom or a dad or a husband or wife or son or daughter, even implicitly, loved ones. You might sit there and say, “Oh but brother, you’re just talking about outward judgment.” No, loved ones. The spirit of Satan catches your condemnatory attitude and takes it home to that heart. And that heart knows, ìThey’re looking down on me, They’re judging me.î And that hardens their heart for the moment when the blessed Spirit comes and speaks to them. So no, don’t touch it. Stay away from it. Why should you not do it? Oh there’s another reason, loved ones, very plain one.
Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment, men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Every careless word, God alone knows that. That’s why you and I can’t judge each other. We don’t know. You don’t know everything about everybody else, you don’t. You and I know only the things that they said to us. Or, sometimes we know hearsay things that other people say they said but we don’t really know those loved ones. We don’t know them, only God knows them. Often you will say, “Oh yeah, but I know what they say.” Yes, but one person will say one word out of a heart that is rebellious against God and the other person will say the same word and it’ll be a heart that’s seeking God and you at times don’t know.
At times, one person will act severely against someone and they’ll act out of hatred for that person. At other times a person will act severely against the person for their own good, but you and I don’t know. We look on the outward thing. We quickly hear something that they say, we observe something quickly that they do but you know in your hearts where we get most of our information from. From hearsay, from quick comments that other people make to us.
Loved ones, the reason we can’t judge each other is, we haven’t the information. We don’t have the information. We don’t know what is really right or what is really wrong in other people’s lives. Moreover, we don’t know with God’s wisdom. How many of you have watched somebody who came up in a very rough kind of life and you’ve been horrified at the way their language was or the things they did?
Then you found out the kind of upbringing they had and that story helped us to understand them and to forgive. We don’t understand what lies behind a person’s words or actions. We don’t know their background. We don’t know what the ameliorating circumstances are. We don’t know what their physical health or emotional health is. We don’t know all those things, God does. We haven’t the information or the knowledge to judge them.
Maybe the greatest reason for refusing to judge whether a person is right with God or wrong with God is, only God knows because salvation is a relationship of trust with God and you can’t speak for God. You can’t speak on his behalf. Only God knows whether a person trusts him and loves him or not and loved ones, we don’t know that.
You know you could bring a list of people to me and you could say, “Tell me, what my relationship with these people is?” And even if I knew some of them, I couldn’t tell you. You alone know what your heart attitude to them is. So it is with the Father. Wouldnít it be just a tragedy? Wouldnít it be a fatality, if you and I got to heaven and we found there people whom we had already counted out as far as heaven goes?
Wouldn’t it be terrible to find ourselves there in the position of Pharisees? Where God knew the heart better than we did and he accepted someone that we thought he should reject? Some of us get into it of course for different reasons. You kind of say, “Well brother, I am responsible for looking after the world, for preserving it. I am responsible for taking care of it. If I shut up these people will mow us down.” Well, no you’re not. You’re not responsible for the world; you’re not. Thank God you’re not and I am not. Reagan is the President. He is responsible for the fiscal and the social development and leadership of the nation. The policemen are responsible for stopping other people who spoil our property or hurt us. We have certain responsibilities ourselves in our jobs. That’s what we’ve to do.
We’ve to vote and we’ve to be faithful to our responsibilities. But no, the world isn’t our concern and as soon as we make it our concern, we find that we can’t lift it and that’s where we resort to talking about the things to other people because we can’t handle it. We can’t fix it so then we begin to talk about this and talk about that to somebody else.
It’s the same in work. You might say, “But brother, I am responsible for my place at work. I am responsible for the things that happen there. You should hear the things they do with each other. You should hear the things they do with the money. You should hear what they say.” Thank God, you’re not responsible. You’re not responsible for the workplace. You’re responsible to be good business colleagues to your colleagues.
You’re responsible to be good workers to your fellow workers. You’re responsible to share with them what you think you should do in your own life. But, no, you’re not responsible for keeping the whole thing right. Actually you can’t be, it’s too big for you. That is God’s job and every time you try to do something that only God can do, you’re driven to talking to other people about other people.
Loved ones, rest; rest in Jesus. Believe it or not, that isn’t our job. ìYeah, but aren’t we responsible for keeping the church right? We have to keep a church right, isn’t that our responsibility?î Jesus made it very plain who builds the church. He said to Peter, “Upon this rock, this rock of the Holy Spirit revealing to you that I am the Son of God and your being part of my Spirit, upon this kind of relationship with me, I will build my church.î You can’t build the church. You can’t diminish the church.
In Acts, you read, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who are being saved.î [Acts 2:47b] The Lord will do that. You may say, “Oh, but haven’t I responsibility for keeping the spirit right?” No, that’s why I appointed apostles and elders. Apostles and elders are responsible for expressing the Spirit of God where discipline is needed and they express it inside the confidential and kindly and loving fellowship that God has given them.
Whenever they act outside that, they cease to act as elders or apostles. They begin to act as part of the spirit of anti-Christ. No, it’s not our responsibility, loved ones. God will look after those things if we are faithful to him. I could tell you how God began to get at my judgmental spirit.
He began through the Holy Spirit to reveal how evil I was, how selfish, how self-centered, how pharisaical, how unclean, how dishonest I was. And the Holy Spirit impressed that upon me more and more until I saw why God destroyed me in Jesus. I was so rotten to the core that there was nothing else he could do and when God brought me to that place, I looked around and I said, “What right have I to judge anybody else?”
When I was as bad as that, so that God had to wipe me out completely and start again, what right have I in pride or arrogance to judge any of my brothers and sisters? Loved ones, it’s from getting your eyes on Jesus and off people that peace and rest comes into your life.
So, I would encourage you to take your eyes off your relatives or off your colleagues at work or your friends. All that does is make you proud and make you feel you’re like God and help you to build yourself up by tearing theirs down and build your authority up by tearing theirs down.
I would encourage you, look away from all that and look upon Jesus himself and see compared with him how rotten and selfish you yourself are. Then you’ll find a dear sweet Spirit coming into your heart that just says, “What right have I to judge anybody else in the light of what I am and what God has been to me?” Let us pray.
Dear Father, we thank you that you had taken this great burden from our shoulders. You have even moved it from your own shoulders. You have given all judgment to the Son, to the one who died for us all — and he alone is worthy to judge us. So Lord, we had died for nobody. We need somebody to die for us.
Lord, we repent of any judging of friends or relatives or colleagues at work and we would clean that out of our lives now. Thank you that we don’t have the responsibility of keeping the whole world right. We have only the responsibility of keeping our eyes on you Lord Jesus and walking in a clean spirit. And the Holy Spirit whom you sent, he will convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, far better than we can.
So Father we give ourselves to you anew this day. We would cleanse our spirits from all judgmental attitudes, from all critical attitudes. We would walk in this simple, single-minded way of holiness where our hearts are cleaned and we’re able to meet each other with open eyes and open hearts and put our arms around each other because we know we’ve said nothing but good of each other since the last time we met. So Lord, we thank you that you’ll fit us for heaven and for life in your family in eternity.
The grace of our Lord Jesus and the love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us, now and evermore. Amen.