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29. Judge Not, That You Be Not Judged

Judge Not,
That You Be Not Judged

Matthew 7:1-5 - A Message by Pastor Eric Chang

We are studying Mt. 7:1-5 and here we read that the Lord Jesus says:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 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.

Here the Lord Jesus gives us some very important teaching regarding our relationship to one another in the church. Last message we saw about the relationship of every Christian with God. Today, the Lord Jesus turns our attention - because these two are immediately related - to our relationship with one another. What is the correct or what is the true relationship that two Christians or all Christians should have in relation to one another? Here, He gives us a warning and an encouragement.

An Illustration On The Nature Of Judging

First, the warning here is that we should not judge. Now, speaking of judging, it immediately makes me think of a certain story which shows us the nature of judging. There was this elderly art critic and he was quite an expert in examining and criticizing pictures. He had spent so many years of closely studying and examining pictures, and reading books, that he was very shortsighted. And so, he went one day to this great art exhibition. Having got there, he found that he had not taken his glasses with him. And so, of course, he had to get very near to the pictures as he examined each one of them. Thus, he looked at this picture and he never stopped criticizing this picture. He said, “This one’s wrong. That one is out of proportion and this style is no good.” He was going on from picture to picture like this.

The funny thing about art critics is that often they themselves have probably never painted a picture in their life, but they know how to criticize other people’s paintings. Finally, he came to one great golden frame. And this frame here, he put his face very close to it and he looked at it and studied it very quietly for some time - this picture. After quietly studying this picture for some time, he turned around and he said, “That portrait is really terrible! How is it possible to exhibit a picture like this in such a distinguished gallery? This portrait is completely out of proportion and all the features are exceedingly ugly.” He was very annoyed and was criticizing the art gallery for producing such ridiculous pictures in such an art gallery.

I think, by now, some of you have been guessing already what he is looking at. It happened, of course, that he was looking in a mirror. All the time he was quietly studying that mirror, he was looking at himself. And so, while he was going on for some time, his wife said, “Dearie, look! You had better cool down, because what you are looking at right now is a mirror.” So, when he had been criticizing, when he had been thinking he was criticizing somebody else’s painting, he ended up criticizing himself and making a complete fool of himself. This is the lesson in this passage, in fact, that as you are judging somebody else, you actually end up judging yourself.

Also, there is a comical element in this aspect of the Lord’s teaching here. The Lord Jesus says, “How is it that you can see a speck in somebody else’s eye?” A speck is very, very tiny. “You seem to be so capable of seeing that speck in somebody else’s eye, but you are not [capable],” and here the Lord Jesus uses the humorous picture “of seeing this great beam sticking out of your own eye?” Now this beam, of course, as the Chinese translates as “liang mu (),” is a beam that goes over the top of the ceiling. These great logs which have been cut into squares are actually whole trees where the edges have been smoothened. After being cut into squares, they are put across the beam of the building to support the roof. The Lord Jesus loves to use these hyperboles, this contrast that really makes the whole picture stand out, the kind of pictures that the cartoonists like because it really drives home a lesson.

We Ought Not To Put Ourselves Above Others

Let us then look more carefully into the Lord’s teaching here. First, the Lord Jesus says, “Do not judge that you yourself will not be judged.” You see, the work of a judge - to judge - was the prerogative, that is, the power of a ruler. That is, the judge always represents those people who are in authority over you. If you do anything wrong, the government calls you or takes you to court. Or else, if there are two people who quarrel, then they take them to the higher authority. The judge always represents the higher authority. So, the Lord Jesus, in saying “Do not judge,” is telling us, each one in our relation to the other, not to put ourselves above somebody else.

This is the fundamental problem in the relationship between people, that one likes to think himself better than the other person, and therefore, in a position to pass judgment on the other person. For example, if you say that somebody is proud, you are implying that you are not proud. Then you are in a position to declare somebody else to be proud. If you declare somebody else to be wrong, you are really saying that you are better than he is, because he does not know what is wrong but you know what is wrong. And the Bible teaches us that this kind of attitude among Christians is the cause of trouble in the church. The Lord Jesus is dealing here with an attitude, this attitude of superiority to others. The Bible teaches us that we must learn to be subject to one another and not to behave as though we were superior to the other person. That is why in John Chapter 13, the Lord Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, and said, “What I have done to you, that you must do to one another,” [v15] that you serve one another. To wash another person’s feet is to be his slave because that was the work that slaves did for their master; they washed their master’s feet. That is why in Phil. 2:3 and in Eph. 5:21, in both these places, Paul says, “Be subject one to another.” Do not try to be the other guy’s boss. You be the other person’s servant. That is what we have been called to do.

I ask you to think that if in a church, we could really live in this way, behave in this way, of being truly humble in relation to one another, how the attitude in the church would become. We do not always have to look at the other person and feel, “I am, at least, as good as he.” Why are we not content to say, “Whether I am as good as this person or not is up to God to judge”? But this attitude of alleged superiority is something that we need to boost up our failing ego, that is, to make us feel that we are still something in this world. But the spiritual man does not care what he thinks of himself or what other people think of him. He is concerned only of what God thinks of him. That is what matters for eternity.

Jesus’ Attitude Toward The Nobodies And Somebodies Of This World

You know there is a lesson that the Lord is teaching me more and more. It is this, that the Lord Jesus said, “If you want to be the greatest of all, you become the least of everybody. You become the servant of all.” If you want to be great in God’s eyes, then you must become little and the least among the brethren. The more you are something in your own eyes, the more you are something in other people’s eyes, the less significant you are in God’s eyes. Remember how we saw [that] at the Christmas message, at Christmastime when we gathered together and that happy time we had. I pointed out at that time the amazing fact that the Lord Jesus, if you study His ministry, was always interested in the ‘nobodies’ and was never interested in the ‘somebodies’ of this world. He spent a whole afternoon, perhaps, talking with those outcast Samaritans and with that Samaritan woman by the well, but He would not dignify Herod the king with one single word. Herod the king could not get one word out of Him. And [we saw] how He spoke with severity to those Bible scholars who thought themselves very learned. He [said] to them, for example in Matthew Chapter 23, “Woe to you scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!” The scribes were the Bible scholars. But how gentle and kind He was to the sick, the weary, the downtrodden - the nobodies. So we must learn this attitude of the Lord Jesus.

It always, I must say frankly, disgusts me when a church honors people who are important in this world. I remember a certain pastor who I met in England in the days when I was a student. I came into this church and I met this pastor. He greeted me and I greeted him. That was fine as it went. And then he heard who my father was, that is, some time after we had met. From the moment he knew who my father was, his attitude towards me changed completely. Oh, he was full not only of friendliness; it was almost reverence that he had towards me. And that, I must say, disgusted me completely. I am spiritually nothing because of what my father is. It makes not the slightest difference to me as far as my status in the church or in the eyes of God is concerned who my father is. If he were the emperor, it would make no difference.

Here we see an attitude of so many Christians who look up to people in the world. And when they come into the church, they are something special because they are something in the world. We do not ask, “What does God think of them?” I find this so often in the church. There comes into the church a doctor. Whoa! A doctor is something special. To me, a doctor is nobody. As far I am concerned, I am only interested in who he is spiritually. And by ‘doctor’, I refer specially to medical doctors since I have found that in Hong Kong, medical doctors, as I have said before, seem to have some kind of special status. For what reason, I have not yet discovered. It may be because they make more money than anybody else.

So we see that all of us have been affected by the attitude of the world, even to pastors who have not learned to think in the way that Jesus thinks. Therefore, we judge people according to what they are in the world. Brothers and sisters, this poisons the life of the church. We must learn to honor those, especially, who are the humble ones in our midst. Those other people get enough honor from the world. You do not have to blow their heads any bigger than they are already. We must come then with this basic attitude, a change in attitude, that the Lord Jesus is teaching us. We do not always try to feel superior to other people, or those whom we cannot feel superior to, then we worship them, we reverence them.

We Do Not Turn A Blind Eye To Sin, And So the Need To Judge

Here we must then, for the sake of accurate understanding of the Lord’s teaching, ask: When the Lord Jesus says, “Do not judge,” apart from the question of attitude, what exactly does He mean? Again, I must emphasize that it is an attitude that He is speaking about rather than individual actions. It is because if you have got your attitude right, you will not do the wrong actions. But even if you have got your actions right, your attitude can still be wrong when you do the right action. So when the Lord Jesus says, “Do not judge”, is He saying to us, for example, that we should turn a blind eye to sin in the church? So, when there is sin in the church, when some serious sin is done in the church, for example, honoring those people who are something in the world, or even something worse than that, should it be that we just turn a blind eye to say, “Well, I’m not here to judge, so, you can sin. Everybody can sin. That is not my business”? Or maybe a false teacher comes into the church and teaches heresies, shall we say, “Oh, I’m not here to judge, so let him teach whatever he likes”? Or a wolf in sheep’s skin comes into the church to devour the sheep and we say, “Oh, we shouldn’t judge him. If we say he’s a wolf in sheep’s skin, I’ve already judged him. So I better keep my mouth shut.” Of course, the Lord Jesus is telling us not to be like that at all. He tells us to watch out, that is, to discern those wolves that come in sheep’s skin. The church leaders, especially, have heavy responsibility in this direction.

The Lord Jesus also says if somebody offends against you, if somebody has sinned against you, what should you do? Should you say, “Well, never mind, I don’t judge him”? Is that the right attitude? Are you helping him when he is committing sin against you by turning a blind eye to that sin? Not at all! In Mt. 18:15 and onwards, the Lord Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, then you go and speak to him, and say, ‘Dear brother, but you have sinned. What you have done is not right.’” “And if he does not listen to you,” then the Lord Jesus says, “go and get two or three witnesses and speak to him. If he still does not listen, then you take the case to the whole church. And if he does not listen to the church, then the church will excommunicate him, that is, he will be treated as a non-believer.” Thus, we find that the Lord Jesus, in saying “Do not judge,” is not saying that we should turn a blind eye to sin. What is more, it is the responsibility of the preacher, in particular, to speak out against sin, that is, to speak out against sin in the church as a whole. I remember I was speaking out against sin in the church and some brother said to me, “It seems to me you are very proud judging the church.” This dear brother had not yet studied the OT.

In the OT, we find the prophets, the servants of God, thundered against the whole of Israel, condemning Israel for its sins. Of course, Israel did not love the prophets because of that. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit and left to die there. If somebody had not rescued him, he would have died. They hated the prophets because they thundered against sin. The strangest thing of all is that those who criticize [me] for speaking against sin in the church are themselves the most critical people I have ever yet met. Because, you see, the difference between two people is the difference not in what they do, but in the attitude in which they do it. One person is speaking out against sin because of his deep loving concern for the church. But unfortunately, within the church, there are many people who suffer from what the psychologists call “inferiority complex.” And these are the most critical people because they have to try and put themselves up to support their inferiority by trying to prove some superiority. It is this kind of people in the church who, in fact, not only start to criticize other people, there is one particular target they love to criticize because it makes them feel the best of all. This kind of people in the church specialize in criticizing the elders, the leaders, and the pastor himself. They can show the others, “Look at me! I criticize even the pastor. You don’t dare to do that!” It is the question, brothers and sisters, of the attitude. The question is: What is your motive for saying the things that you say? And often, you do not tell other people what is the real motive of why you said those things. When we criticize somebody else, we all like to say that it is for his good. But here, the Lord Jesus tells us and warns us to watch for our attitude.

So, when the Lord Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He is not saying that we must turn a blind eye to sin, but that we must attack sin with the right kind of attitude. More than this, the Apostle Paul tells us, that it is the responsibility of the leaders in the church to judge. Do we then have a contradiction where Paul says that he judges, but the Lord Jesus says, “You shall not judge”? In 1 Cor. 5:3, the Apostle Paul says, “I have passed judgment upon the sinner in the church.” “I have judged; I have passed judgment; I have pronounced judgment against the sinner in the church.” That was a person in 1 Corinthians Chapter 5, you remember, who committed the grave sin of incest, a sexual relationship with his relative. 1 Cor. 5:3 reads, “For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment.” There, he pronounces judgment and he sentences this sinner in the church who did this terrible thing. Then you say, “How is it that Paul is judging when the Lord Jesus says, ‘You shall not judge’?” This is why it is so important to understand the first point that we have made: not judging is the attitude that the Lord Jesus is speaking about.

The Church Leaders Have The Responsibility To Judge

Secondly, as we continue to study a teaching of the Lord, we have to study its entire context. He says to all the disciples, “As such, you shall not judge.” But within the church, there are some people who have been committed with the heavy responsibility to judge. So, not to judge is a general rule. But there are some people, and I say it again, such as the elders and the leaders of the church who have the responsibility to judge, as for example in 1 Tim. 5:17. But you may say, “Oh that’s fine. The elders can judge me and I can’t judge the elders. That’s not fair.” Let us remember, coming back to the Lord’s teaching, that as you judge, you are going to be judged by God. The elders, and those whom God has entrusted with that responsibility, I tell you, are the last people who would like to exercise the power of judgment, unless they have to. Any person - a pastor or an elder - who does not love and care for his church is not fit to be a leader in the church. Therefore, to such people, judgment will never be committed.

Now ‘judging’, the word ‘judge’ here, is understood in the sense ‘to condemn.’ To condemn is to sentence, to pass sentence upon somebody. So, we find, for example, that this judging, this condemning is exactly the opposite of saving, [that is,] the judging that is used here in Matthew Chapter 7. So, in Jn. 12:47, we read that the Lord Jesus came not to judge, but to save. Here we find the difference between judging and saving - to condemn and to save - to acquit a person; to forgive his sins. So, we find, then, that when we are judging, condemning a person, then we are not concerned to be saving him. All this now shows us that our attitude towards ours brothers and sisters must never be one in which we are superior to the other person. If a pastor feels superior to the other people in the church, he is not fit to be a pastor. So, in the sense of condemning, nobody is given the power to condemn in the church. But in the sense of pronouncing judgment according to God’s Word, that authority is committed to the servants of God. Even then, it is never in the sense to condemn, but in the sense to save. So in 1 Corinthians Chapter 5, for example, when Paul sentences this man, this sinner, to the destruction of the flesh, the whole object was that his soul might be saved, as Paul goes on to explain. No one, no human being is ever given the authority to condemn any other person finally and ultimately.

How Is It That We Are So Good At Seeing Other People’s Faults But We Cannot See Our Own?

When we study the question of attitude, it takes us to the next point. Why is it that some people so love to condemn other people? Here, the Lord Jesus asked a question, which I find very interesting, in v3. The Lord Jesus asked this question, “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but you do not see the log that is in your own eye?” That is an interesting question. Why? What is your answer to that question? How is it that we are so good at seeing other people’s faults but we cannot see our own? What is your answer to this question that Jesus asked? I find that if you search for the answer to this question, you will find that you yourself are being spiritually x-rayed right into the depth of your heart.

It makes me think of a certain woman in Liverpool. Ah, these are the hypercritical people in the church. In every church, you will soon get used to meeting these people. She came to me one day and said, “You have [so and so as] one of the leaders of your church and I saw him on the street walking hand-in-hand with his girlfriend.” I said, “Really? And where was this?” She replied, “Oh, it was down one of those shopping streets. Imagine a leader of the church, walking hand-in-hand with his girlfriend! Can you imagine that? How can a person like this be a leader in the church?” This is quite remarkable. I have not discovered that there is anything sinful about holding hands yet, especially if they were just about to get engaged. Yet, she was creating an uproar about this, presumably suggesting that I would dismiss him.

And yet, this woman herself, if you examine her life, the question would be much more serious than holding hands. She herself was divorced from her own husband and living with a person with whom, I am not sure, she was married [to] or not. According to some reports, they have not been married. I do not know the facts and I have not asked them to produce their marriage certificate. Herself divorced and living with another man, and she has the nerve to come and criticize somebody for holding hands in the street. Can you imagine that?

So, brothers and sisters, if you think the Lord Jesus is exaggerating about the splinter and the beam, then think about it. Here is an actual case of somebody with a beam sticking out of her own eye who is actually trying to criticize [two people for holding hands]. These two are now married and they are serving the Lord very faithfully. But what happened to that woman who does the criticism? She has not appeared nor been seen in any church. She turns up in church only to give out the criticism. Or else, when she makes an offering, she makes sure that everybody in the church can see it. She waves her five-pound notes over her head and says, “Look, I have something to offer the church. Don’t tell anybody about it!” Such is why the Lord Jesus says, “You hypocrite! You do not see the beam sticking out of your eye and you want to help somebody else.”

Where There Is No Love, There Will Be Criticism

We still have not answered the question then: Why is it that we are so good at seeing the weaknesses in other people, but not the great faults in ourselves? I tell you something, brothers and sisters, if you hear anybody criticizing, the first thing to do is take a good look at that person’s life. From my experience, I have learned that the most critical people are the people with the most spiritual problems in their own life. It is this kind of people who have not yet got what we were studying in Matthew Chapter 6 right. Their relation with the Lord - there is something seriously wrong with it there. Where there is not love, there is going to be criticism. Where there is no genuine love, there will definitely be criticism. Never believe a person who says to you, “I love you, therefore, I criticize you.” That is absolute hypocrisy. Do not believe a word of it! The person who is concerned about you will come to you lovingly, and say, “Look, brother, this thing I am not fit to share with you, but I would like...”. And he never talks to anybody else about his disagreement with you or his criticism. He never mentions it to anybody else. You are the only one to know it. That is love. There are people who say, “I don’t agree with you.” But they never tell you why and in what point they have not agreed with you. They leave you completely in the dark. Everybody else knows that they do not agree with you, but you do not know why. That is called ‘love’, in what sense? This is utter hypocrisy.

So, you see, where there is not love, then this critical attitude will certainly come up. Take a husband and wife. When they first get married, oh, it is sweet, isn’t it? It is like heaven on earth. They are holding hands all the time. They are gazing in each other’s eyes. It is really beautiful. Wait till two years pass. For some people, you do not even have to wait two years. And then what happens? Oh, the small arguments start. One asks, “Why do you always do things in this way?” And the other one says, “Why? Why should you do it in that way?” And so the argument begins. Then you find that the argument gets louder and louder. Do you see what happened? That is because the foundation of love was very weak to begin with. I wish that before two people get married, they really know that they love each other and that they do not just fancy each other for a while. It is because when the love disappears, and all of us who have been children or have seen other people’s marriages, have seen what happened between your father or mother, or your uncles, or friends of yours - their fathers and mothers - have seen the terrible conflict that begins. Love dies and then there is only criticism. Criticism all the time! You see the original commitment to one another - the love for one another - has disappeared. Now it is only commitment to myself. So, I am going to insist on my way. That is the way to do it. When two people are going to insist on their own way, then that is the end of the marriage. That is why in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, it says, “Love does not insist on its own way.” It just says, “What would you like to have?”

Where There Is No Love, There Will Be Condemnation

So, coming back to this question, “Why do you see the splinter in the other person’s eye?” the answer is now clear. The answer is: because you have never really loved that person at all. And why is it when you have a beam in your own eye, you do not know it? It is because you love yourself; that is the reason why. Have you ever noticed that when, say, a mother loves a son, that son can never do anything wrong? He smashes other people’s cars up, he does everything bad, and the mother just says, “Oh, no, he is just a good boy. It was just an accident. He has done this only on this occasion.” She never sees his faults. When you love a person that much, you never see their faults. This is the reason why they say love is blind; it is blind because they cannot see their faults. This kind of love, when you love yourself so much, you cannot see your faults. Even if a beam is sticking out of your eye, you do not notice that. But because you do not love the other person, you can see all their faults. You love your own child; your child has no faults. Other people’s children are badly behaved, uneducated and their parents do not know how to bring them up. Everybody is bad. You say, “Just look at my child. He is the finest in the world.”

We see, then, why the Lord Jesus says this. The reason for judging, the reason why we must not judge, is precisely because it expresses this attitude of condemnation which no disciple should have in relation to another. We are here to love one another; not to be the superiors of other people. But somebody may say, “Aha! But you already said that the Lord Jesus did not mean that we should turn a blind eye to sin.” And nobody is sinless, therefore, you have plenty of ammunition. Doesn’t it mean that I can look at everybody here and say, “Aha! This guy has sin. So I’m gonna criticize him. Jesus didn’t say I should turn a blind to eye to sin. So what about your sin? What about your sin?” Now if you argue like this, it just shows again that you have not got the attitude right. The attitude must be the starting point. You can see it all in the way people speak to you about these things. If we truly love a person, we shall not use any kind of excuses to get at the other person.

Thus, it is notable for those of us, for example, who study theology - it is very interesting! - that the liberal scholars are the most critical scholars there are. They are always ready to criticize everybody. [For them it] is a virtue to criticize. They think that those of us who went into theology are trained to criticize. If you do not criticize, then you are a no-good theologian. And so what do they do? They criticize Paul. They criticize John. They say that Paul was mixed up here and there and so on. All this they feel is the height of scholarship; that is the way we should talk! In fact, to the liberal scholar, there is nobody sacrosanct. Everybody is criticized - all the way from all the prophets right through all the apostles of the NT. Everyone is criticized. The liberal scholar has the right to criticize everyone. Frankly, I tell you, although I read all the important books that are written by them, I sometimes feel a sense of disgust that, really, I put [this] down in my marginal notes in those books sometimes. These guys are the only ones who think that they know more than Paul, more that John, more than Isaiah and Jeremiah - they know more than everybody! The great pity about people like Paul and John was that they never had the privilege to sit at the feet of these great theologians of the 20th century. If only they had the privilege of being taught by these theologians, they would have been much greater than they are, according to these theologians. Once they do that, of course, you will not be surprised if I tell you that they even criticized Jesus Himself!

You find then, you see, that there is no more limit, that once you take that attitude, just where do you stop? And so I say to you, brothers and sisters, take careful notice of the words of Jesus and the right attitude. Never think of yourself, “Because I am a theologian, I am a scholar, my job is to criticize everybody else.” God has never given you that job, so you can just as well consider yourself dismissed as of now. In Gal. 5:15, the Apostle Paul warns the Galatians in these words. He says this: “If you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another.” It shows here that the Galatians Christians had fallen into the error of not listening to Jesus’ teaching. They felt that we can all criticize one another, that it is okay and that is our job. And Paul says, “Take heed that if you bite and devour, that is, eat one another, you are going to be eaten up by one another.” There would be nothing left at the end of it. Paul says there, “If you bite, like a lot of animals in the arena, each biting the other, one or the other is going to eat the other up.”

You think, when people come into a church like this, what kind of witness, brothers and sisters, what kind of witness is it to other young Christians or to non-Christians? If we love God, if we love His people, if we love His church, do we come into His church and say, “Well, I don’t agree with you. I don’t agree with you. And I don’t agree with you?” What kind of a witness is this? If you do not agree with him, go and talk it over with him. Solve the problem with him. You do not have to broadcast to everybody else that you do not agree with him. Are we not concerned for the welfare of other Christians, and the young and the non-believers? Did not the Lord Jesus say that, “Hereby shall all men know that you are My disciples, that you love one another.” [Jn. 13:35] And we have seen that where there is criticism, there is not love.

The Measure We Use In Judging Others Will Be Used On Us

We must come now to our concluding point. Here, the Lord Jesus gives us both the warning and the incentive. The warning is this. He says here in this very passage in Matthew Chapter 7, “By what measure you judge others, that is the measure you will be judged. What measure you give is the measure you get.” [v2] Now I want to tell you that this is a fundamentally important principle for each one of us to understand. Here is the secret of the Christian life that you must grasp carefully. What is the secret? It is that what you do is the way God is going to deal with you. How you deal with others is going to be the measure by which God is going to deal with you. You apply that principle and you will see that it covers everything in the Christian life. It is the most important principle for every Christian to understand. If you do not forgive a brother, you will not be forgiven. You judge a brother, and God is going to judge you. The more severely you condemn your brother, the more severely God is going to condemn you. That is a terrifying thing. That is the part of the warning of the Lord’s teaching. We find this principle, applied in Scripture absolutely, literally down to the last detail.

Let me give you an example of this. David committed a very serious sin when he took another man’s wife. Now in terms of law, strangely enough, he could get away with it. The reason he could get away with it was because he was king. You see, he took this woman from her husband by what seemed to be a very legitimate manner. It is because, as king, he was commander-in-chief of the army, and this woman’s husband was an officer in his army. More terrible is [the fact] that this woman’s husband was not only an officer, but a very dedicated and a very fine officer in the army. So, David, in order to get [this officer’s] wife, did an evil thing. He sent this man to the front line, with orders to the commander-in-chief of the front line to put this woman’s husband in the most dangerous spot in the battle, and he was killed in action. Did David do anything illegal? No, he was in his right. Under human law, he had done nothing wrong. And then, of course, since the woman’s husband was dead, he was free to marry her. Again, there is nothing illegal. It is perfectly all right for a man to marry a woman whose husband is dead.

But God’s eyes were upon his heart. Although he was not guilty under human law, God’s eyes saw David’s heart and what was the real reason he did all this. The servant of God, Nathan, of whom we know absolutely nothing about (he was not the same as ‘prophet’ at all), came to speak to David. Nathan said, “Your majesty, I want to tell you about a certain case.” And he explained this case to David. David the king, of course - the king was a judge as well - passed judgment upon this case. Thus, here was the story. Nathan said, “You see, there was a man who had one ewe lamb, that is, a very young lamb. This ewe lamb was very precious and he carried it in his bosom. It was very dear to him because that is the only one he had. There came this wealthy man with many sheep. But he wanted this ewe lamb from the poor man. So he took by force this ewe lamb from this poor man.”

And David was very angry! You see, he can see the speck, but he cannot see the beam. He was angry: “What injustice for this man with so many sheep to take this poor man’s one lamb!” And he said, “I pronounce that he shall pay back fourfold.” In other words, he has taken one lamb; he is going to give the poor man four back. Nathan looked at David and said, “You are the man!” What had happened? David had pronounced judgment on himself. He pronounced judgment, and Nathan said, “You are the man.” The lamb that David had taken was this officer’s wife, of course. [The wife] was pictured by this lamb. And the Lord carried out the sentence exactly as David had pronounced it. Consequently, David lost four sons. It is amazing - the Word of God! The history of it is exact. David was required to pay according to his own judgment. Out of his own mouth he was judged. In fact, the first son he lost immediately; it followed only a few verses later on. In 2 Sam. 12:5-6 you can read those words. We find that by v14, his first son has been sentenced to die. Later on, we find that another son was killed by the hand of another of David’s sons. It was a tragedy in which, in a fit of temper, one son killed another son. And so on [it went], until David had paid with four sons.

You can see, then, that out of your own mouth, by what measure you judge, you will be judged. And so, we can see the meaning of that story about the old man who was judging himself when he was looking at what he thought was a picture, but really was a mirror. You see, your brother is your mirror, your sister is your mirror. The moment you criticize your brother and your sister, you have pronounced judgment on yourself. So this is the negative side, the warning, that by what measure you measure out to somebody else, [that measure will be used on you]. He measured out fourfold and he got back exactly what he had measured.

The Way We Love Our Brethren Is The Measure We Get Love From God

But there is also the encouragement side, that in what way you love and care for your brother and sister, in that same measure will God love and care for you. Here is the connection with last week’s chapter [Matthew Chapter 6]. When your brother and sister is in need and you help that brother and sister in their need, you can be sure that God - if you do it with the right attitude, of course - will care for you in the same measure. And so, you find that the more you give to God, the more you get back from Him in terms of His love, His care and His spiritual blessings. You can be sure also of this, that this brother or sister, who helps other brothers or sisters in their financial need, will never themselves be in financial need. The amazing thing you will find is that the more you help your brothers and sisters, even to the point of seemingly putting yourself in financial difficulty, you will find that God never lets you down. He sees to it that you will not be in want or in difficulty when you need it. Once you have learned that lesson, you are never afraid to hold back in helping your brother and sister.

There was a brother who was once in need. Another brother gave this brother some money to help him in his need. Having got this money, he went out and he ran into somebody who was even in greater need than himself. So, not thinking of his own need, he gave it to the other person who had more need. Do you see why? And then God just supplied him again for the need that he had. The result is this: there is never any shortage. The more you give, the more you have.

Prove The Principle: The Measure We Give Is The Measure We Get

This, then, is a principle that you find you can test in everyday life, that is, if you have the faith and the courage to test it. It is because faith and courage go together. Many people are cowards because they have not got faith. Many people want to know: “How do I know that God is true?” God gives you a principle right here for you to prove it. It is easy for you to test it. Isn’t it wonderful that in the Bible, God does not challenge us to a blind faith? He takes us on and says that the more you give, the more you get. The measure you give, that is the measure you get. Well, you can prove that. That is very easy to prove. But do not prove it on the judgment side as David did. He pronounced the fourfold judgment and he got it. Do not try that side of it.

So, let us then take this lesson that we have learned today to heart, and this wonderful principle, the warning and the encouragement. Apply it. Prove it. Taste and see that God is good.

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church