I’m laying on a blanket in the shadow of the most beautiful tree in my front yard! We decided to eat a picnic lunch after church because it is just glorious out today. It’s warm, but a crisp fall breeze is cooling everything and making the leaves dance. I love it. After I put Lydia to bed, Les and I decided to rest outside.
Les is literally asleep with pillow and blanket. But I’m trying to take my own advice and get out in God’s creation to continue my worship to Him. It’s easy to do on a day like this. When spring came I was ecstatic because our front yard exploded with color–we have a white and pink dogwood, azaleas, purple trees, hydrangeas, rose bushes and even some grape vines in the backyard! Now that fall is here, I’m being surprised again–our dogwood is a beautiful red! I took some pictures today but just can’t capture it’s beauty.
Another reason I’m worshiping God today is because of church. The music was just perfect today. Then there was baptism. I could watch baptism all day long. The way our church does it is a brief testimonial video of the person about to be baptized and it almost always ends with them saying, “That’s why I’m here, to tell everyone that Jesus is my Lord and Savior!” Then we get to see them baptized live. It’s always amazing to me. Today the two people that were baptized both said they were saved because they read the Bible (well, one said it was because of a book she read, but I can guarantee it was full of scripture!) I love to see people come to God through the most direct way–HIS VERY OWN WORDS!
The sermon (lesson, our pastor calls it) was titled “Judgement Call” and I can tell the next few weeks of this series is going to be hard hitting. The scripture is Matthew 7:1-5. I might take it a verse at a time. That’s basically how he did it. Only I won’t spend 30 minutes unpacking it.
You know how it feels to be judged. It’s belittling. However, you probably also know how it feels TO judge. Yikes. I’ve sat in that seat too many times. Many times people misquote the Bible and say, “Oh, the Bible says not to judge. Uh-uh-uh.” When in fact, it doesn’t say we shouldn’t judge, Jesus simply says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” It’s that whole reap what you sow thing. If I’m judging, I’m going to be judged. Jesus then takes it a step further and basically applies the golden rule to it: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Or amandafied, “Judge others the way you want to be judged by others.”
It’s hard because when I’m being judged I want to say, “Wait! You don’t know the whole story! You don’t know why I said that, why I did that or why I think that.” I need to take a page out of my own book and apply that thinking to when I’m tempted to judge others.
Now we come to one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible–not because I practice it all the time, but because I LOVE how descriptive Jesus is. (This is one of those verses that I think if you don’t know Jesus, this one would make you like him!) Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (See what I mean?)
And here’s what got me. Our pastor suggested that when we start looking at others sin or behavior and judge them, we should be asking ourselves, “What is it in me that makes me feel the need to point out the speck in their eye? Why does their sin make me feel what I feel?” Our first response to someone’s sin should not be to yell, belittle, send an email, gossip or confront. In fact, Jesus tells us exactly what to do, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Our first response when we are bothered by someone’s actions is to look in the mirror. LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Jesus said if we want to help someone with their sin (their speck), we should FIRST take the plank out of our own eye. We need to first get rid of our own sin. Then we’ll become the perfect person to talk to someone else about their problems.
Wow! What a hard choice. I know when I’m being judged (or have been judged) by others, I tend to blow off anything else they might say to me. I tend to look for worse things in them. But whichever chair I’m sitting in–the judge or the judged, I need to look first at myself. What is the plank in my eye?
I’ve got a lot of thinking and praying to do about this sermon. It was very very good. I’m interested in next week. I want to see where he goes with this. And where God might take me in this. But for now, I’m back to my worship under the tree.