It’s easy to categorize people. This person is bad. This one is good by how important they are to us. But Jesus says that God gives rain and sunshine to both the wicked and the good. The farmers in our congregation will tell you that both rain and sunshine are good things. God gives good things to those whom we would consider good and wicked.
Our trouble is that we think we can determine who the wicked and the good are. Of course we are the good and those enemies I have, they are the wicked. But even when a man ran up and bowed before Jesus and called him “Good Master”, Jesus’ response was to say that there is only one who is good. And it ain’t me.
Into this ethic we have Matthew 7:1- Don’t judge. This can’t mean, never judging anything. We make judgments all the time and for good reason. I judge that Special K with almonds is far superior to Cheerios. Paul in Romans 12 tells us that we are to think with sober judgment. He even puts into the context of not thinking better than anyone else.
I believe that Christ is talking about judging the condition of a person’s soul in eternity. When we condemn a person to hell, we write them off and dismiss the hope of God being able to change them. We take the place of God.
But it makes us feel better when we get to judge others.
Surely we are better than they are.
We have never murdered anyone.
We have never committed adultery.
We have never
Been angry with a brother or sister..
Well, see, those times I did those things, well, um, that was different. And besides, I’ve been forgiven. Amen and hallelujah! So you see, it’s different.
But most often this is just such hypocrisy. We live with our own flaws for so long that we can easily overlook them, ignore them, justify them.
We focus on the insignificant problems of other people while huge issues, hunger, greed, poverty, abuse, go on and on and we don’t even blink at them. It’s easier to point at the guy saying the “bad” words. Or heaven forbid, smoking a cigarette!
Both this sermon and the one given to us by James want us so badly to check ourselves. We are to self-examine so as to not fool ourselves. Who are these people in our hearts?
Jesus shows us that the freedom he brings means being free from judging people. We are free to not believe the lie that some people are more important than other people. We are free to be the servant of all, not just the ones who share our last name or love us back.
And always we are led back to the decision… Do we follow or do we not? Do we walk in the footsteps or do we try to rationalize our own exceptions to his ethic?
How did Christ act?
How did Christ treat people?