toward a life without judging

NOTE: Following is a copy of a discussion guide that could be used in a small group setting, such as MoSt Church‘s LIFE groups. These discussion guides work the same subjects and primary texts as the Sunday morning sermon. You’ll find these guides categorized each week under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To aid our development in Christ’s character, toward a life full of care for each other, devoid of judging.

Scripture

Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, “Let me take the splinter out of your eye,” when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you.

Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened. Who among you will give your children a stone when they ask for bread? Or give them a snake when they ask for fish? If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:1-12 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are intended to simply get us all talking.

1. Tell us of a time you just knew you had something perfectly figured out, but turned out to be wrong.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple directly with the sermon’s primary Scripture text.

1. What’s the difference between judging and “fruit inspection?” (cf. Matt. 7:1 & Matt. 7:15-20)

2. What does vs. 6 mean (“Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you”)? How does vs. 6 serve as a bridge between Matt. 7:1-5 and Matt. 7:7-12?

3. According to vs.1-5, on what does judging rely? Jesus’ way of handling things (vs. 7-12) is quite different. On what does Jesus’ way of handling things rely?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. What are some words or phrases that are more or less synonymous with the word “judging?”

2. Recount some instances and accounts of misjudgment as recorded in the narratives of the Bible.

3. Tell us about a time you judged someone, or had been judged by someone, and the judgment rendered was based on a wrong assessment. What was it like? How did it feel? What resulted?

4. It is commonly said among those who are yet to believe that a great many Christians are judgmental. Do you believe this is true or simply a smoke screen or excuse not to consider faith? Explain and give evidence for your take on this.

5. If a person’s heart is diseased with judging others, what symptoms would likely present themselves? What symptoms might be unnoticeable to the person afflicted, but obvious to others? What specifically does the disease of judging others do to the afflicted person?

6. What other kinds of evil grows in the soil of hearts and minds fertilized with judgmental ways?

7. Do you think a person who has had a habit of judging others for most of their life can truly change? If they could change, what do you suppose would need to be in their life for that to happen?

8. Name some other reasons why we judge others other than the four reasons offered in the sermon.

9. Of what do most of your requests to God in prayer for others consist? What sort of things might we ask of God when praying about eliminating judging from our life?

this went thru my mind

Church: Someone finally got around to writing that article I’ve always intended to write, but never did. Ever since I first saw what would become one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, James Whitmore’s character, Brooks, has been on my mind. I thought I had a copyright on the contents in my head, but apparently Dan Bouchelle walked around in there, took some pictures and notes, and then typed it up for all to see … and did a far better job than I could have ever done with it. Thank you, brother. Too Institutionalized to Live on the Outside is brain food.

Church leadership: Todd Rhodes’ post Dirty Little Secret is perfectly honest and spot-on.

Courage: The Freedom Riders. James Zwerg: “I asked God to give me the strength to remain nonviolent and to forgive the people for what they might do.” “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?” If you read no other post here, read this one by Richard Beck … and this one, a follow up.

Covetousness: That’s the topic in most of this coming Sunday morning’s adult Bible classes at MoSt Church as we begin to draw near to the conclusion of our study of the Ten Commandments. Here’s a good illustration of “coveting gone wild” – Is Extreme-Couponing Gluttony or Good Stewardship? by Jerod Clark.

Domestic violence: Why Pastors Struggle With Confronting Domestic Violence by John Shore.

Faith: Terry Rush on faith in his post A Mistaken Doctrine That Holds the Church at Bay.

Generational differences: Matt Dabbs has it so right in his post entitled The Gospel-Epistle Generation Gap.

Human: What does it mean to be human and what do we humans need in relation to God? I think Brian Mashburn’s post entitled My Neediness is one of his best … and that’s saying a lot!

Humor: What a hoot! Now if it was my funeral it would either be a matter of wheeling the casket in at the last minute or doing two or three things at the same time while the funeral was going on, right? Read Late To Your Own Funeral by Matt Dabbs and grin. Ben Witherington’s Fractured Fairy Tales From the Farm is hilarious. Reminds me of the Monty Python classic on SPAM.

Lying: I recently preached a sermon on honesty and lying and taught a class on the ninth of the Ten Commandments (“you shall not bear false witness …”) just last Sunday morning. Here’s a fine article by Sarah Sumner that appeared just yesterday on The Seven Level of Lying.

Marriage: Trey Morgan’s post entitled Six Reasons Not to Have An Affair says it clearly and concisely.

Mission: Everything needs rethinking. Regularly. Times and contexts change.  Methods of mission must as well. David Fitch’s post The Important Task of Creating Missional Rhythms in a Community kindly and clearly reminds us of such.

Progress: You can spend your life trying to address and shore up weaknesses or you can play on your strengths. That’s true of people groups as well as indivduals. Jim Martin’s post What Strengths are You Building On? is good stuff.

Torture: I agree with this. Do you? Torture will always be wrong by Linda J. Gustitus.

Just for fun: Ever wondered what a map of the location of the top fast food burger chains in the U.S. would look like? Check out Data Pointed’s visual representation of the eight largest burger chains and see the overwhelming winner in Texas is … not who you’d probably guess.