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October 6, 2019

Sermon Matthew 7:5 . . .“Jesus said:  ‘You hypocrite’”

“Jesus said:  ‘You hypocrite’”

Matthew 7:5

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Some six hundred years before Christ, there lived a Greek storyteller by the name of Aesop.  And as the story goes, because he was so clever, although he was born a slave, he not only gained his freedom, he came to advise both courts and kings.

But the reason we remember him even today is because of his stories, his fables.  You probably know some of them like, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  That’s a story about a boy who kept tricking his local villagers into thinking a wolf was attacking their flocks.  Then when a wolf finally did come, no one believed him.

The moral of the story?  Don’t lie, because no one will ever believe you, even when you tell the truth.

Or think of The Tortoise and the Hare.  That’s a story about a turtle who challenged a most arrogant rabbit to a race.  And as the story goes, in a flash, the rabbit raced off toward the finish line.  But halfway through he got tired, so he took a nap.  When he woke up, he discovered that the tortoise had won after all.  

The moral of the story?  Slow and steady wins the race.

And among the more than seven hundred of Aesop’s fables, there’s one more called, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

And as that story goes, there was once a wolf who could never get enough to eat because of the watchfulness of the shepherds.  But one night, he happened to find a sheepskin that had been thrown out and forgotten.  So the very next day, he put that skin on, then strolled into the pasture to mingle with the sheep.  And ever so quietly and carefully, he laid down and waited until all were fast asleep.

There was just one problem, one thing the wolf didn’t think about--shepherds eat too.

And sure enough, that very night, the shepherd went out to his flock to find the biggest and fattest sheep he could find--which just happened to be the wolf!

The moral of the story?  The evildoer often comes to harm through his own deceit.

So it is in the words of our text.  Please turn in your Bible to page 1032, as I read the words of our text.  Matthew chapter 7, beginning at verse 1:  “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  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.”

These words from Matthew chapter 7 are part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the greatest and best sermon anyone has ever given.  It’s the Magna Carta, the great charter, of the kingdom of God.

It was in this sermon that Jesus said:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven....You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” and, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”  And it was in this sermon that Jesus taught us how to pray, saying:  “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

Now here in chapter 7, Jesus also said:  “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

Now before I tell you what Jesus meant, let me tell what He didn’t mean.  He didn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever judge.  For example, it’s okay to sit on a jury and render a verdict.  It’s okay for an admissions committee to decide which students to accept and which not to accept.  And it’s okay for an employer to decide who gets a promotion and who doesn’t.  

Even more, every day, we all have to make decisions that affect our lives as well as the lives of other people. We pass judgment on appearance, behavior, speech, attitude, work ethic, productivity, keeping or breaking a promise, guilt or innocence, and which person we believe and which person we do not believe.   

Sometimes we have to judge.  But sometimes we don’t.  And that’s what Jesus is getting at.  “Don’t judge,” He said.  Don’t be a faultfinder, a nag, a nitpicker, a critic.  Husbands, don’t be so hard on your wives.  Wives, don’t mercilessly criticize your husbands.  And parents, stop tearing down your children.  Don’t be a grouch, a complainer, a grumbler.

As one author put it, faultfinding is the “venom of the soul.”

Or as Jesus said in verse 2:  “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

Then in verse 3, He took it one step further:  “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?”

It’s really kind of funny if you think about it.  Can you picture it?  

Imagine walking up to someone you know that has a speck in their eye.  And while you’re walking up to them, you’re completely unaware that there’s a telephone pole sticking out of yours!  Never mind that your eye is blinded and that your head is leaning down toward the ground.

And as you walk up to this poor unsuspecting soul with this monstrosity protruding from your eye, you catch a glimpse of them blinking funny.  Their eyes are watering, and they complain about the discomfort they feel.  And you, being a busybody, just have to know what’s bothering them.  And on closer inspection, you find that the tiniest piece of sawdust has somehow gotten into their eye.

Now imagine that you, with your telephone pole, try to remove that sawdust from their eye!   And, by the way, the word Jesus used for “remove,” means to “violently pull out.”  Nice!  And with every move you make, your telephone pole keeps slamming up against their head.  Get the picture?

So Jesus’ message to us is this:  “If you have a telephone pole in your eye, how can you possibly hope to get a speck of sawdust out of your brother’s eye?”  Or to put it another way, if you refuse to see your own sin and self-righteousness, then how can you possibly see it in someone else?

Listen to the words of a poem:  “What’s that little speck I spy, that teeny spot on your right eye?  Is it grime?  Is it slime?  Or is that tiny fleck a fly?  I also see a glob of goop.  It’s yellowish green, like split pea soup.  The icky goo is thick as glue, and makes your eyelid sorta droop.  And on your lash is just a hint, of fuzzy-wuzzy laundry lint.  I bet that’s why you rub your eye, and always wink and squint.  As long as I am on a roll, I’ll carry on with speck patrol.  I think your--What’s that, you ask?  What’s in my eye?  Oh that--it’s just a ten-foot pole.”

Or think of a baker who bought his butter from a farmer who lived nearby.  But after a while, the baker began to suspect that the farmer wasn’t giving him the right amount of butter.  

So one day, he weighed his butter carefully.  Sure enough, his suspicions were confirmed--what was supposed to be a two-pound slab of butter actually weighed only a pound-and-a-half.

Angry, the baker called the police and had the farmer arrested and brought before the judge in court.

The judge asked the baker, “What weights do you use to weigh out your butter?”

The farmer replied, “Well, that’s hard to say.  It depends on who the customer is.”

“What do you mean?” asked the judge.

“Well,” answered the farmer, “for most of my customers, I use the standard scale.  But for folks like the baker, I use a different system.”

“Really?” said the judge.  “So how exactly do you weigh out the baker’s butter?”

The farmer answered, “It’s really very simple.  You see, when the baker started buying my butter, I started buying his bread.  So I weigh out his butter by putting one of his ‘two-pound’ loaves of bread on the other side of the scale.  Maybe that’s why his butter now only weighs a pound-and-a-half.”

“Judge not, that you be not judged,” Jesus said.  “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you...How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  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.”

The poor woman had really done nothing to deserve it.  It was her home and her bed.  Still, all of a sudden, harsh, judging voices shook her awake, shouting, “Wake up, you harlot!  What kind of woman do you think you are?”

She barely had time to cover herself as they literally dragged her through the city streets.

And there, at the temple, they found Jesus teaching the people.  They threw her down in front of the crowd.

They said, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses commands us to stone her.  What do You say?”

She was surrounded.  She had nowhere to turn and no place to go.  Would anyone show her any kind of mercy?  

So what would Jesus do?  Would He stand up, step forward, and render His verdict?  We are talking the law of Moses, here.

But instead of standing up, He leaned over, lower than anyone else, lower than the priests, lower than the people.  Even lower than the woman caught in the act of adultery.  Then He scratched on the ground.

When He finally did look up, what did He say?  He said:  “Let him who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone.”  Then as one stone after another clunked to the ground, He turned to the woman and said:  “Woman, has no one condemned you?  Neither do I.  Now go and sin no more.”

How quick we are to accuse.  How easy it is to compare and condemn.

“Judge not,” Jesus said, “that you be not judged.”

And how is all this possible?  Because of Jesus, perfect God and perfect Man.  And though men arrested Him and took Him before the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, three times Pilate said, “This Man has done nothing wrong.”

But we know what happened next.  To please the people, Pilate ordered that Jesus be crucified, the sinless for the sinful, the just for the unjust, that we might be redeemed.

In the words of a hymn:  “Man of sorrows, what a name, for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim:  Hallelujah, what a Savior!”

 

We thank You, dear Father, for the words of Jesus.  Help us, by Your grace, to be like Him, that we may love and forgive, just as He has loved and forgiven us.  This we ask in His name.  Amen

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