Gareth Flanary

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

Matthew 7:1-6


  • Illustration:  An episode of the Andy Griffith show begins with Andy and Opie playing catch. While they are playing, Annabelle Silby comes by to solicit help with the annual children’s charity drive she heads up every year. Andy and Annabelle go into the courthouse to discuss the status of the charity drive.
    • While at the courthouse, Annabelle compliments the town’s children on their willingness to help out with such a worthy cause. Andy, taking this opportunity to brag, suggests that Opie is probably one of the biggest contributors in his class. However, Annabelle relates that Opie only contributed 3 cents to the charity drive. The next lowest contributor was 5 cents.
    • Andy is beside himself. He can’t believe his son would contribute such a measly amount to a worthy cause like the children’s charity drive. When Opie returns to the courthouse, Andy proceeds to have a discussion with his son to discuss the importance of giving.
    • Opie claims he is saving his money to buy his girlfriend, Charlotte, a present. Try as he might, Andy just can’t get the point across to his son that he should give more to the charity drive. That night at supper, Andy still cannot convince Opie that it is important for him to be generous in his giving. Finally, Andy has had it and he sends Opie to his room. While Andy is muttering to himself about how embarrassing it is for the son of the town sheriff to give the least amount to the charity drive, Aunt Bee interjects.
    • Aunt Bee asks Andy to stop and think about what he is saying. Is he more concerned about what other people think that he is about his own son? Is he really ready to give up on his son because of this one incident? Andy realizes what he has done and calls Opie downstairs. He tells Opie that it is Ok to spend all his money on his girlfriend, and it doesn’t matter if he buys her a toy or takes her to the movie for 2 dollars’ worth of popcorn.
    • Then Opie says something Andy never expected, something Andy never even considered. “I was saving to buy her a coat.” “A coat?” Andy asks. Opie continues, “Yeah, her family doesn’t have a lot of money, and her coat is kinda worn out.” Andy’s mouth drops. “But Opie, you never told me what the money was for.” Opie’s response is, “you never asked.”

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is 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 neighbor’s eye. “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

    1. Illustration:  “The Terminator” – Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a machine from the future… sent back to the past…first to kill… and then later to protect an important person in humanity’s struggle against the machines…
  • The Criticizer… is another type of terminator… is deadly and causes great harm to the individuals they judge and criticize, but also to the Body of Christ (Church)
  • Criticism and judgmentalism: 
    • Jesus sternly warns against condemning others… setting oneself up as moral guardians and critics of one another… For with the judgment you make you will be judged
      • Illustration:  Little Tommy was out on the playground during recess and was picking on the other children on the playground. One of his favorite ways of taunting the other kids was make ugly faces at them. Mrs. Smith was the teacher in charge of supervising recess and she saw Tommy doing this. She took him aside and said “You know, Bobby, when I was a little girl, I was told that if I made ugly faces, my face would freeze and always stay like that.” Bobby looked up into her face and replied, “Well, Mrs. Smith, you can’t say you weren’t warned.”
      • Judgment will bounce back on them… the measuring stick they use for others will be lined up against them… and while they try to sort out other people’s problems… their own will loom so large that they won’t be able to see straight…
  • Jesus had a target in mind – scribes and Pharisees – hard-lined pressure groups that seek to create a moral climate in which everybody looks at everybody else to see if they are keeping their standards up…
    • Illustration:  N.T. Wright writes of the neighbor who is constantly spying on other neighbors to make sure they put the right kind of garbage in the right kind of garbage bag… concerned with proper disposal and the danger of pollution… “Pollution” was precisely what the Pharisees were afraid of…
  • Jesus warns against the temptation to look down on each other for moral failures … it is the temptation to “play a part” (hypocrite)… what part are you tempted to play? – GOD   Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is 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 neighbor’s eye.
    • Criticizers are self-righteous, spiritual blind, self-deceived, and abuse the gospel of grace…
    • Preoccupied with faultfinding, while refusing to honestly assess their own failures…
    • Jesus insists that only by an awareness of personal failures can one adequately assess and properly treat the spiritual wounds of others
    1. Best translation:  “Do not condemn or you too will be condemned.”
  • Difference between discernment (moral judgment) and condemnation (assuming that we are God) … none of us stands in the position of God… only God gets to make eternal judgments… if we condemn others by our standard (always flawed), then God will judge us by the same standard
  • We cannot avoid moral judgment (discernment) – Jesus himself says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
    • Jesus warns his followers to avoid giving that which is sacred and beautiful, treasured and valued… to those who were not receptive
  • Dogs/ pigs – those who lack the capacity for appreciating the intrinsic worth and value of the gospel… “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.
    1.  Why criticism and judgment?
      1. Helps boost our own crumbling self-image…
      1. Takes pleasure in hearing/sharing other’s shortcomings
      1. Helps justify our own sins and wrongful action
      1. Gives us an outlet to express our hurt and need for revenge
  • Reevaluate before we criticize…
    • All the facts are never known…
    • We fall short and often fail… and are just a guilty
    • Are we worthy to judge?
    • We are to restore, not criticize… to be compassionate, not critical… speak words of kindness and love, not negative and destructive…
    • “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” (Henry Ford)


  • I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door, Not by the beauty of it all, by the lights or its décor. But it was the folks in heaven who made me sputter and gasp; the thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics, the trash. There stood the kid from 7th grade, who swiped my lunch money twice. Next to him was my old neighbor, who never said anything nice. Herb, who I always thought was rotting away in hell, was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well. I nudged Jesus, “What the deal? I would love to hear your take. How’d all these sinners get up here? God must’ve made a mistake. And why’s everyone so quiet, so somber? Give me a clue.” “Hush, child,” said He. They’re all in shock. No one thought they’d see you.”
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