Different Judgment

This was the first sermon I’ve ever preached to an empty room. I preached my first sermon during our “Shelter in Place” order in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. We’ve reluctantly withdrawn to our homes and withheld ourselves from our dearest friends.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine found himself in a major airport. He coughed and witnessed a woman cover her mouth and nose and slink away. We live in days when you can be judged by your cough. Too loud, too forceful, too uncovered and you’ll be viewed with suspicion.

Judge Not

There are few verses more well-known or more often cited than Luke 6:37’s, “Judge not, and you will not be judged.” More often than not, it’s invoked in defense. “You have no right to judge me! The Bible says, ‘Judge Not!'” Yet, we make judgments every day. Everything from coughs to character is subject to judgment.


Do Not Judge

When I started this summer series the idea was simple. A collection of sermons built around the idea that there are many things we believe the Bible says that it either doesn’t say or we’ve misapplied. The nice thing about a summer series like this, rather than an exposition of a particular book of the Bible, is that if people aren’t able to be there from week-to-week it’s no big loss. There’s nothing but the overall topic to tie the sermons together.

I have to admit, I had low expectations of myself and the topic. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but I didn’t expect any real depth. Then it started surprising me. I guess I started surprising myself. I would go so far as to say the Holy Spirit surprised me!

With the “Judge Not” sermon, an arc began that I didn’t really expect when I first laid out the series. I knew the topics would flow together, but I didn’t really expect the sermons to compliment each other like they have. The response has been amazing, humbling and I’ve grown in ways I didn’t expect.

[pullquote]”Jesus wants me to fall so in love with his grace that I want nothing less for anyone else.”[/pullquote]This sermon didn’t go as I had initially envisioned it when I first put the series together in the spring. I saw this sermon as being a defense for the reality that there are times when we are called on to judge. I wanted to point out that there’s a difference between forgiveness and trust and we shouldn’t shy away from judgment when we are called to judge. It ended up being a sermon about the heart of the one doing the judging. In many ways, it ended up being a sermon for my heart.

There’s a particular phrase in the sermon that really surprised me. I’m sure it’s not an idea that is unique to me, but when it hit me I saw how essential it was to my own heart. “Jesus wants me to fall so in love with his grace that I want nothing less for anyone else.” He wants my desire for others to experience his grace to go beyond my own desire for vengeance or what I think justice should be.

That thought led me to the next sermon on “Forgive and Forget.”