Feb 05

Judge not and you shall not be judged. What does this mean? Is it possible?

Judge not and you shall not be judged

A verse that many people quote but fewer can find in the Bible is “judge not and you shall not be judged.”  The usual reasoning behind their quotation is that we should never criticize anyone and no one should criticize us.

If we keep this ethic, when we stand before God he will give us a pass into the eternal kingdom.  We don’t judge.  We don’t get judged.

This weapon is used especially when someone brings up moral principles on sexuality, how people spend money, or their political views.

Five Problems

There are five problems with this view.

Problem 1- After Jesus tells us not to judge, he then tells us to judge

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “judge not and you will not be judged.”  In the next sentence he said that the judgment we use will be used against us.  Then he gave an example of proper judgment when he told his listeners to deal with the big issues in their life before they helped someone else with smaller offenses.  He then concluded the section by saying that his followers should not give holy things to dogs or pearls to pigs.  There are few things more judgmental than calling a person a pig in a Jewish context.  (Matthew 7:1-6)

In Luke, Jesus told his followers that they will be judged with the same judgment that they use to judge others. Jesus also told his listeners to judge themselves before they presume to judge others. (Luke 6:37-42)

Problem 2- In the judgment parables there is no third option

Jesus taught about 40 parables.  About 15 of them focus on how God will judge people.  The foolish virgins, the steward who buried what was entrusted to him, and various groups in each parable are judged.  In each parable there are two options: commendation and condemnation.  There is no third, non-judgment option.  Jesus never implies that if you don’t judge, these parables don’t apply to you.

Problem 3- Everyone is judged in the New Testament

Judgment is universal.  Everyone will give stand before God.  Paul makes it clear that Christians will give an account of their lives. (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Hebrews 4:12-13; 9:27

Problem 4- The New Testament leaders were very judgmental.

The Apostle John condemned a church leader named Diotrephes who would not cooperate with him.  He also labeled some teachers deceivers and condemned those who taught that Jesus wasn’t fully human. (1 John 4; 2 John 7; 3 John 9-10)

The Apostle Paul judged Peter and Barnabas for their legalistic behavior.  He judged people on Crete and those who taught legalism to the Galatian and Philippian churches.  He also judged sexual perversion in Corinth. (Galatians 1:2-4; 2:11-14; Philippians 3:2-4; Titus 1:10-16; 1 Corinthians 5)

Problem 5- Judgmental terms are used consistently in Scripture

Terms like wicked and foolish are found throughout the Bible.  Also, terms like wise and mature are judgmental when they are only applied to some people.

A Modest Proposal

Jesus told his followers not to judge by appearances but with an honest judgment.  (John 7:24)

He also told his followers to judge themselves first before they judged others and that the standard they applied to others would be applied to them when they stood before Jesus. (Matthew 7:1-6; Luke 6:37-42)

Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told the crowd that if their right eye caused them to sin they should pluck it out and if their right hand caused them to sin, cut it off. I believe that “judge not and you shall not be judged” is another example of hyperbole.  Right after saying it Jesus told people how to judge and judging is seen throughout the New Testament.

In the end, Jesus is the final judge.  Nothing will be hidden from him. He will judge everyone by a perfect standard.

What will happen if Jesus uses the same standard of judgment with you that you use with others?

How much less would you judge others if you waited a few minutes before you spoke?

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Feb 01

Links to begin the week

Links to previous posts on my blog

Why did John write his Gospel and what are 11 things that we can learn from him about the Christian faith? (So that you may believe. John 20:30-31)

Jesus called for choices- he pushed people to make a decision about him.

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

Made in China: The Next Mass Missionary Movement. Chinese Christians plan to send 20,000 missionaries by 2030.

The Death of the Midwestern Church

Pornography: A Christian crisis or exaggerated issue?

Science, Metaphysics and Metaphorical Ladders: When Science is Theology

The Scientific Case for Forgiveness

How religious schools led to the decline of Arabic science 

Why Scruffy Hospitality Creates Space for Friendship

Links to books I’ve started in the last week.

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

Sorry, I started no new books this week

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Jan 31

What should you do if there is a mass shooting in your town?

On October 1, 2015, there was a shooting at Umqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Eight students and one faculty were killed.

Two Western Seminary graduates are among the pastors and leaders in the community.

In this 30-minute, video they talk about where they were, what they did, and what they learned from the shooting.

The 30 minutes you spend listening to this might make a difference

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Jan 29

Good wins no ultimate victories except out of the grave of apparent defeat

A good sermon

It has been said that you don’t know if a sermon is a good sermon when it is finished. Rather, you know if it’s a good sermon in the days, weeks, and months that follow as the people who heard it and the one who preached it live out the sermon in their lives.  I heard a sermon on this passage in February, 2000 by Haddon Robinson and have thought about it a number of times since.

Apparent Defeat and Ultimate Victory

In the midst of many figurative passages in the book of Revelation there is a prediction of a group of future events that is very clear.

In a future time of great evil, God will send two prophets to speak in Jerusalem against the leaders of that era.  The will speak and perform miraculous signs for over three years. The leaders will then kill them and leave their bodies to rot in the streets.  People will celebrate their death but after 3 ½ days God will raise them from the dead and they will ascend into heaven.  Their apparent defeat when murdered will be turned to victory when they’re taken into heaven.  (Revelation 11:1-13)

Our defeats

A few decades ago the young reporter was interviewing an old pastor who had had a long and successful ministry.  The reporter planned to bring up a glaring failure a few decades earlier in the pastor’s career.  The reporter brought it up and the pastor said to him, “I was wrong.”  The reporter was unfazed by the response and brought it up again.  The pastor looked at him and repeated, “I was wrong.”  The interview moved on to other topics.

When we admit our failures they can’t be used to ambush us.  A simple, sincere “I was wrong” sets the record straight.

Our path to victory

Some of our failures our moral failings.  A simple, sincere “I was wrong” to God, the people we have hurt, and anyone else who needs to know ends the issue.

Many of our failures don’t seem to have a moral component. We’ve attempted things and have failed.  We have been in positions where we have not been successful.  Some respond to these by a brooding self-analysis that immobilizes their lives.

The best solution it Is to acknowledge our failings and use them as lessons for ourselves and others.  Our defeats will often lead to great victories.

We live in a fallen and finite world.  We are pilgrims here.  The real and lasting reality will only come when we live, redeemed and cleansed, in the presence of God.

How have apparent defeats turned into victories in your life?

Have you been able to share them with others?

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Jan 26

What is the Internet doing to my brain and what can I do about it?

I recently saw a book title that caught my attention.

Deep Work: rules for focused success in a distracted world

I downloaded the book and began to read.

Deep Work

Cal Newport. Deep Work: rules for focused success in a distracted world.

I had read an earlier, excellent book by Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. I was looking forward to this book.

Deep Work addresses the tension between the numerous, necessary tasks such as email, reports, questions raised by colleagues, and the quiet deep thinking that is required to address significant challenges.

Deep work furthers the type of advances that produce the greatest results over time but we can’t find time to concentrate.

Newport talks about strategies to make us better at deep work.  He suggests confining the other tasks into finite defined times.  We then have scheduled uninterruptible time to reserve for deep work. We can concentrate on the things that will more efficiently advance our professional and personal lives.

The Shallows

Nicholas Carr. The Shallows: what the Internet is doing to our brains 

Early in the book I needed to put aside Deep Work for a while when Newport suggested another book that addressed a challenge that we face.

Nicholas Carr has written a thought-provoking, challenging book. It talks about how the staccato, annoying, inputs we receive most hours are changing us at our core.

Our brains are growing, changing, and responsive organs.  Parts we use grow stronger and parts we ignore decline.  We train our brains and change them as we make life choices.  Carr’s chapter on brain science is exciting but, at times, difficult to read.  The conclusions are invigorating. We can make choices and we can change.  The chapter on the history of books from the first writing through printed books to digital resources is excellent, well-written, very readable, and illuminating.

The key take away from this book is that we can train our brains to focus better but it will take a plan.

The Intellectual Life

A. G. Sertillanges. The Intellectual Life

I returned to continue reading Deep Work.

I was surprised when Newport recommended a book that was very familiar to me.  Surprised because it seemed to be an odd book to recommend to address challenges in the Internet age.  Antonin-Gilbert Sertillanges was a French Dominican monk who died in 1948.  He wrote The Intellectual Life in 1921.  It was translated into English in 1946.

I have used Sertillanges’ book as a text for those seminary students who are writing a thesis as they prepare to go on for further studies. It directs them to set aside time to focus on their work and to cut distractions.

I finally finished Deep Work and it has been a stimulating journey.

The final take ways are that we can change but we need to realize that the digital world that we live is changing us and we need to be aware. I would not trade the 6000 books in my Logos study system or the 1000 on my kindle account that I read on an Ipad. However, I need to plan times of focused reflection so I can best solve the challenges that I face each day.

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Jan 25

Links to begin the week

Links to previous posts on my blog

What do I want to be doing when Jesus returns?

Sometimes we make life more complicated than it needs to be

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent

The History of the Christmas Card

On Disputable Matters

The 10 Most-Read Stories of the Persecuted Church

Why My Grief Belongs on the Internet

My Train Wreck Conversion As a leftist lesbian professor, I despised Christians. Then I somehow became one.

North Korea Gets Competition: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Now Hardest To Be a Christian

The Age of Secular Pharisees

Links to books I’ve started in the last week.

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

Owen Strachan. Awakening the Evangelical Mind: An Intellectual History of the Neo-Evangelical Movement

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Jan 22

Just how important is it for us to be thankful

We have good days and bad days.  We have days that go as planned and days that don’t. We have pleasant surprises and bombshells that hurt us.

Being thankful saves us from self-centered pride

As he summarized the covenant, Moses predicted that good things would happen to God’s people when they entered the Promised Land.  When these good things happened they would be tempted to think they were blessed because they were good people.  These thoughts would lead to pride and to their downfall.  (Deuteronomy 7:7-11; 8:7-14)

Instead of focusing on themselves they should focus on God. They should not be proud but be thankful.  Being thankful would save them from pride.

Being thankful saves us from crippling despair

Philippians was Paul’s most personal letter. Near the end he gave spiritual advice to people he loved. He told them not to despair but to pray.  When they prayed they should not to be anxious but thankful.  Paul told them that the result of thankful prayer is a mysterious peace from God. (Philippians 4: 5-7)

When we are not thankful

When we are not thankful, we begin to think that we deserve good things and are being wronged when our circumstances do not meet our expectations.  We deserve only good things.  We are entitled to them.  Being thankful rescues us from this divisive self-centeredness.

When was the last time you thanked someone for something?

When was the last time you thanked God for something?

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Jan 18

Links to begin the week

Links to previous posts on my blog

Three characteristics of prayer

The 120 in the Upper Room at Pentecost… hard to believe

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

Douglas Groothuis. Bedeviled by My Wife’s Dementia: My expertise in philosophy did not give me the answers I needed

Phillip Holmes. Justice Without Facts Is No Justice at All

Justin Taylor. The Christian Century No One Predicted

Philip Jenkins. Dead temples vs. living churches: ISIS is obliterating Christian communities — why aren’t we paying attention? We mourn destruction of artifacts, but the living churches being destroyed are the heart and soul of Christianity

What Pope Francis Told the Central African Republic’s Evangelical Seminary

Peggy Noonan. The First Amendment Needs Your Prayers

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra. The World’s Most Popular Bible Verses, According to 200 Million YouVersion Users. Every second, 112 people open the Bible app. Here’s what they’re looking at.

Craig Keener. My Real Life Hosea Story. Even when my wife was unfaithful, I continued to experience the faithful love of God.

Links to books I’ve started in the last week.

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

A. G. Sertillanges. The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, and Methods

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Jan 16

Do you interrupt your schedule and move quickly to serve someone else or to obey God… like Abraham did?

Usually we move at our own pace

People who have rank or are in authority usually get to set their own pace.

Most of us have some time each day when we are free to organize and plan our lives.

Abraham moved quickly to serve

It was in the afternoon, a hot afternoon, and Abraham was in his tent. He saw three visitors and quickly moved to serve them. He asked them to stay and quickly asked Sarah to prepare some bread and he chose a calf to be prepared for the guests. He brought them curds and milk and stood near them while they ate to see if they needed anything else.

The visitors were God and two angels and they predicted Isaac’s birth and left to go to Sodom to verify the evil in the city that would be judged for their sin.

During the afternoon Abraham realized that he was serving God and prayed for the people of Sodom. (Genesis 18)

Abraham moved quickly to obey

Some time later, when Isaac was a young man, God came asked Abraham to do the unthinkable. He told him to sacrifice his son Isaac as he would an animal and as the nations around him did. He told him to do it in Moriah about forty miles away from Beersheba where he was camped.

He left early the next morning. He quickly obeyed even this request from God. God told him that Isaac would father his descendants and he believed him. He assumed that God would raised Isaac from the dead. God prevented him from killing Isaac and provided an animal for the sacrifice.

Centuries later Solomon built the temple in the same place as the sacrifice and Jesus died not far away.

Abraham quickly obeyed God’s difficult command. He had ideas as to how God would solve his conflict. God solved it in another way but the depth of Abraham’s faith was revealed. (Genesis 22; 2 Chronicles 3:1; Hebrews 11:17-19)

What causes us to move quickly?

What does that say about us?

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Jan 15

Where are Christian being persecuted?

Open Doors, an organization that aids Christians under persecution has released a list of the fifty nations where Christians are the most oppressed. The list is updated each year.

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