Monday, 24 June 2013
Sermon Luke 6: 36 Judge Not
Have you ever felt judged? That is really a silly question because we all seem to be judged throughout our lives. We are judged by our parents when we are growing up – and often even when we become full blown adults with grown children of our own. Isn’t it amazing how we can become like little children when we are with our parents – and not in the good way that Jesus was commanding us - unless you become as little children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We are judged in school by our teachers and when we write exams. We are judged in our work. I worked in a setting before I was ordained that had annual performance appraisals. Your manager would check off the boxes and give you ratings in different area – unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good or excellent. The joke was that you needed to walk on water to get an excellent rating. We are judged by our spouses – do you remember the first time you dated the person who you later married – or your first date with anyone for that matter? You wanted to make a good impression so you went out of your way to make sure you looked you best and were on your best behavior – that’s because you knew the other person was going to judge you. It’s interesting but not surprising that after you get to know someone what you don’t make as much of an effort.That’s probably a good thing overall because you are letting the other person know more about who you really are – not everything but more. It is too bad however, if you give up completely in making an effort to show the other person that you care about what they think about you.
I imagine that many – if not all of you are judging me this morning. How is this new priest going to do? What will his sermon be like? Possibly Father Peter and Father Ralph were judging me when they met me to see if it was safe to let me lose on their unsuspecting flock. Of course having roast preacher over Sunday dinner is a long standing tradition – it comes with the territory.So judging and being judge certainly seems to be what we do naturally. Here we have Jesus telling us in no uncertain terms that we should not do that, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged”. What Jesus is calling us to do and be then is something radical in human relations. Jesus lays out what he expects of his disciples – and of course us. Judge not and ye shall not be judged; condemn not and ye shall not be condemned; forgive and ye shall be forgiven; give and it shall be given unto you. As Father Peter mentioned last week the Gospel reading for the season of Trinity focus on Jesus’s parables. Today’s Gospel is no exception. Jesus follows up his lesson by giving his disciples a parable to illustrate the point. Jesus knew that this was the best way to get his point across.
To paraphrase, he tells them why do you worry about the speck in your neighbor’s eye when there is a beam in yours? Now a speck is very small and a beam is very big. Jesus doesn’t mince words. Stop criticizing others and look to yourself. Have you ever noticed that some people will annoy you at first sight? Sometimes you take an instant dislike to people – first impressions and all that. You may not even know why – or perhaps you will have a good idea. In any case you are judging them instantaneously. A similar process happens when someone does that make you react completely out of proportion to the facts. You will explode in anger or other emotions in a way that seems to be almost unrelated to the circumstances. This happens when we things in others that we do not want to see in ourselves. We are seeing a speck of something in the other person that is the beam – the big things we don’t want to see in ourselves.This is not to say that judgment per se is wrong. We admire people that show good judgment in their lives. However, that is people who do not make a habit of judging others – usually negatively. It is people who make good decisions about what to do in their lives. They judge what is right for them – they judge what they should do to live a good life – for Christians this means following the example that Jesus give for us. – living the life that God intends for us. That is good judgment.
Bad judgment is judging others harshly when we should be judging ourselves to determine if we are living the life we should.Watch out for those beams in our eyes. They may be preventing us from seeing ourselves and the world as God sees us. Amen