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Intolerance
Matthew 7:1-6 

 

"Do not judge lest you be judged. [2] "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. [3] "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? [4] "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? [5] "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. 

[6] "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. 

Do you think our culture understands and practices Jesus' prohibition against judging? Is that why popular culture constantly preaches against intolerance? To the cultural elite of our day, not tolerating others is tantamount to hate. Some even characterize the Christian message as "hate filled" because it attempts to mold the behavior of others. In effect they say, "Who do you think you are to judge me?"

We hear things like, "What goes on in the privacy of my home is my business, you shouldn't judge me by my private life." Are these words congruent with the teachings of Jesus in this passage? Did Jesus mean to say that the Christian message cannot give guidance about private conduct?

By the way, isn't calling the Christian message "hate filled" a judgement in itself? Aren't their very words violating their message of being non-judgmental? Isn't it true that those steering our culture today are really the ones guilty of becoming society's judge, jury and executioner?

Back in the region of the country where my parents live, there is a big battle about posting the 10 commandments in public buildings and being able to give a prayer before sporting events. Some Christians are posting the 10 commandments in their front lawns in protest.

Principal Jody McLoud, of Roane County High School, Kingston, Tennessee expressed the frustration of many on September 1, 2000 when she addressed the crowd that gathered for a football game. She said:

"It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law.

As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternate lifestyle, and if someone is offended, that's OK.

I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's OK.

I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem.

I can designate a school day as Earth Day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, Mother Earth, and call it ecology.

I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional, Christian convictions as simple minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment.

However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated.

This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and His Commandments."

Are the cultural elite guilty of being intolerant while preaching the virtues of tolerance? Yes, I think they are. But that's not the point. To tell you the truth, I think they have a valid point. Christians can be condescending. We can be judgmental. We can be intolerant of anyone who disagrees with us. There is plenty of historical evidence ranging from the inquisitions to the crusades that Christians don't always act Christ-like.

The words of Jesus in this text were penned for the benefit of Christians. Jesus is warning us against speaking with a condescending tone and having a critical, judgmental spirit.

What does Jesus mean in this text? Is He teaching us to never judge anyone under any circumstance? No. Listen to His words in Matthew 7:15-20: "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. [16] You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? [17] Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. [18] A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. [19] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] So then, you will know them by their fruits."

Here Jesus makes it clear that we are to judge others. We are to be fruit inspectors.

Does He mean that we are to be blind to the faults of others? No. How else could we apply His commands to forgive others? 

Is Jesus recommending that we become soft on sin and turn our back on injustice. Absolutely not. Jesus was soft on sinners, but hard on sin. Remember His encounter with the woman caught in the act of adultery? The Scribes and Pharisees brought her before Jesus, claiming they had caught her in the very act of adultery. They asked Him if they should stone her as the law prescribed. Here's what Jesus said to them, and to her. "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." [8] And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. [9] And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. [10] And straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" [11] And she said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more." (John 8:7-11 NASB)

Jesus judged her in that He told her to sin no more, but He wasn't judgmental or condemning. In our text today, Jesus is telling Christians how He wants us to behave, the very way he behaved in His encounter with the woman in John 8.

Jesus' prohibition in this text is against a critical, judgment, cynical spirit. Do you like being around people that always find fault with you? Then if you are a critical person, you need to know that the rest of us don't like hanging out with you either.

He warns against finding fault with others while ignoring one's own faults. Using hyperbole, He said: "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? [5] You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

His Jewish listeners, who were accustomed to people using exaggeration as a form of humor, would have found this statement to be hilarious. But when they stopped laughing, they would have heard Jesus' point loud and clear. It is ridiculous to nitpick other people's small faults while ignoring one's own deep needs.

While Jesus warned Christians not to be condescending, he does encourage us to be discerning. He said, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

We are not to be brain dead people that will tolerate anything. We are to be discerning, but we are to minister with a spirit of redemption, not of condemnation.

Most of all, we need to examine our own heart. As you look inward, is all well with your soul? Are you living the life Christ asks you to live? Is there a step of faith you need to take today? 

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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