Getting out of the blame game: A sermon on Luke 6:37-42

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We love to judge.

George Carlin once noted a universal rule of the road: Everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot.  And everyone who drives faster is a maniac.

To the speeding driver, everyone’s an idiot.  To the slow driver, everyone’s a maniac. But one rule applies to all:  My speed is just right.

Two weeks ago the BBC, CNN, the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and many other news sites and blogs have reported a hoax as fact. The hoax was this: Internet Explorer users are less intelligent than those using other web browsers.

It is a lie that has spread like wildfire despite the thinnest of fabricated “evidence” produced by a website cobbled together in the last month. Why did this lie find such instant and universal acceptance (amongst the web-savvy anyway)? Because we love to judge.

David Cameron shortly after the riots said that pockets of our society are not just broken but sick.  Pockets?

Rioters; Politicians; Police; Media

We feel superior, but you know what they say?  When you point the finger at others, you have three fingers pointing back.

Jesus says:

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Jesus says there’s two realities you can buy into.  Either Judgement and condemnation; or Giving and forgiving.

Jesus tells us the currency that God deals in.  Verse 36:

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:36)

He is in the forgiveness game.  What game are we in?

Well ever since Adam, we’ve been in the blame game.

As soon as sin entered in, man hid and sought to cover himself by his own efforts. The Lord came to expose him and, ultimately, to clothe him in acceptable coverings. Yet in his excruciating exposure man rejects the way of repentance and receiving. Instead he goes on the attack. Man blames the woman, the woman blames the serpent and (as the old joke goes) the serpent doesn’t have a leg to stand on. This has been the way of man ever since.

And here’s what we do – we give the folded arms: which say “We cannot be friends, I am not like you, you are not like me.  We are not in relationship.”  Then we give the shaking head which says “No.”  And not just no to their behaviour, No to THEM.  And we give them the words of condemnation.  We hurl shame onto them.  We make them the scapegoat for all such sins and we punish them for that trespass.

That’s what we’re like and Jesus says, v37:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (v37)

This isn’t about saying “Anything goes.”  This isn’t about pretending you’re blind to everyone’s faults.  It can’t mean that because in the next few verses Jesus tells us to recognise what kinds of people we’re dealing with by their fruits.  So Jesus still wants us to be discerning.  But He wants us to stop feeling superior to people.  If someone else is going wrong in the Christian life, don’t use it as an opportunity to score points, don’t use it as an opportunity to feel superior, use it as an opportunity to examine your own heart and recognise your own sin.  Use it as an opportunity to pity them and show them mercy, to help them out of their sin.  But don’t live your life in the bitterness of constant condemnation.

What comes out of you?  Just yesterday somebody told me they had a sleepless night and you know what I said?  “Guilty conscience!”  I said it half joking, but we often speak what’s on our hearts in jest don’t we?  We’re so quick to judge.

But here’s the terrible thing.  If we play the blame game, we will always lose.  We always think we’ll win the blame game, that’s why we enter it.  We think the truth is on our side.  No, no, no.  You don’t want deal in blame.  You can’t handle the truth!

If you play the judgement game you basically assume that everything’s about verdicts being passed on you.  And you feel like you’re in the dock and you don’t like being judged. So you fight back by pretending to be the Judge.  You point the finger at your co-accused around you hoping that everyone will forget that you’re guilty.  But there you are in the dock, feeling guilty and trying to shift the blame onto everyone else.  You’ve bought into the blame game and it’s your element now.

But Jesus says “With the measure you use it will be measured to you.”  So let’s think about that for a second…

Imagine if there was a new phone app.  If you don’t know what a phone app is, don’t worry, imagine a tape recorder.  But for those who know what an app is, imagine you’ve got one on your phone and it records every moral judgement you ever make about another. Each time you hold another person to account, each time you tell someone they mustn’t, each time you bemoan a colleague or institution it records your judgement. Imagine how big the file is going to be!  Imagine the litany of judgements – dozens every month, hundreds every year, thousands in a whole life-time. Imagine that on the last day Jesus retrieves these recordings and hits play. Imagine hearing back every single time you’ve judged someone else.  Now imagine that Jesus says to you: “Glen, I’m going to judge you by the standards you judged everyone else.”  Do you think you’d come out of that judgement as anything other than condemned?  Friend, if you think you could survive being judged by the standards you hold others to, you don’t know yourself!

The tragedy about the really judgemental people is – they never think they’re judgemental.  All they know is, Everyone else is an idiot.  Everyone else gets things wrong.  No-one else seems to care about the rules.  Everything’s unfair.  But I’m not judgemental.  It’s those people over there.

No, no – you know what you’re like.  You are like, v41:

Someone who looks “at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother,`Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

And you know that’s the blindness that’s spoken of in verse 39.  It’s a famous saying “The blind leading the blind.”  You know what makes these leaders blind?  It’s not lack of knowledge.  It’s judgementalism.  It blinds the world.  And it stops you even making a right judgement.  You can’t even correct other people’s mistakes, which you claim to be so keen on doing.  But you can’t do it whileever you’ve got a plank in your eye.

But if you do understand your total sinfulness, you can address your own sins in humility.  And then you can offer help from a place of humility and contrition.

What will change our judgemental spirit?  Let me give you three things that can help.  But they won’t help unless you know the fourth thing.  The first 3 solutions are what we should do, but we won’t do them unless we understand the fourth thing.

Firstly, laugh.  Not at others, at yourself.  This is what Jesus encourages with His humourous word pictures.  See the absurdity of your own smugness.  Bring to mind your over-inflated sense of self and burst that bubble with a sharp dose of self-ridicule.  What am I like?  I look like a human Dalek with a tree-trunk poking out of my eye-socket murmurring about the state of someone’s eye-grit.  I am ridiculous and need to stop taking myself so seriously.

Secondly, get proportion!  I have the plank.  You have the speck.  In every relationship that’s the proportion.  The problem is 99% me, 1% you.  Of course from your perspective it’s 99% you, but I leave that for you to figure out.  My burden is the plank.  Always.  That’s my priority.

Therefore, thirdly, every time I feel a critical spirit rising it’s an opportunity, not for pride, but for pity.  When I see sin in others my response should not be “Phew, at least I’m not as bad as that!”  It should be to question: “How is my sin reflected in this?”  Perhaps I do the same thing.  Perhaps I commit some equivalent sin – different action, same motive.  Or perhaps my superiority complex is what needs addressing.

Finally – here’s the thing: Look at Jesus!  When He came among us, He was the only one to see clearly.  Being sinless He is the only human who has ever truly appreciated the human condition for what it is – depraved, distorted, dead.  And yet His response was not to fold His arms, shake His head and say “Shame on you.”  He opened His arms, bowed His head and said “Shame on me.”  It’s astonishing grace.  And it shatters our pride.

Jesus does not play the blame game with us.  Isn’t that incredible?  Here we are playing the blame game over trifling matters.  He comes the planet earth and is the one person who could really condemn us but John 3:17 says He did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world.  He came and opened His arms to us and said “I know that you’ve sinned, come close.”  He bowed His head to all the sins we’ve ever committed, He took them on Himself.  And He said “Shame on ME.”

No shame for you – the shame went to Jesus.

If you are judgemental it’s because you’ve forgotten the cross.  But if you remember the cross, how can you be judgemental?

Don’t live in the realm of condemnation and judgement any more.  Jesus has come down into the dock and He has pulled you out and deposited you at the Father’s side.  Court is adjourned.  There is NO condemnation for you.  There is no heavenly finger pointing at you.  When you look to heaven you don’t see a frown, you see a smile.  Court is adjourned, you’re not in the dock.  Now you’re in the realm of Giving and Forgiving.  Your heavenly Father has mercy on you.  So now, deal in mercy.  It’s the only power to change hearts and change the world.

Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Posted on by Glen in grace, judgement, sermons

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

3 Responses to Getting out of the blame game: A sermon on Luke 6:37-42

  1. theoldadam

    We are idiots and maniacs who blame the other guy, almost all the time.

    And God says, “I know it. I love you anyway.”

  2. Heather

    Much appreciated reading this sermon, Glen. A few months ago, I was convicted of harboring a “sneaky” judgmental attitude toward others when considering cultural or political or even religious issues and was horrified to realize that I have at times held to the idea that

    Everyone else gets things wrong. No-one else seems to care about the rules. Everything’s unfair. But I’m not judgemental. It’s those people over there.

    Interestingly, looking to Jesus is the answer–yet it can be a terrifying proposition when He is viewed through the eyes of one who is habitually judgmental; perhaps because of the inability to see the mercy and forgiveness that is being held out?

  3. Emma Bail

    Your post really tel the fact and truth in today’s world.people are always ready to judge others.But they never see our self before they judge others.This is the world’s rule that how you behave with others the same will return to you.We just need to follow Jesus teachings that look at your self first then to others.Our Jesus get’s hurted by behaving like this.May people understands the true meaning of life and spread the love to the entire world….Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful post with us.It make my day…

    Blessings and lots of love…

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