(23) Why Do We Judge?
What would it look like if we really believed our treasure was in heaven?
1. Would we be “so heavenly minded we’re no earthly use”? How do we avoid that?
2. Would we be so overwhelmed by the sins of the world we’d do everything in our power to change it?
3. How did the Jewish leaders expect the Messiah to change the world? Does that change how we feel about changing it?
4. What’s the connection between change and judgement?
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus moves on from telling us where our treasure should be to telling us not to judge.
1. How would poor people (Beatitudes people) have viewed this transition?
2. How would the Jewish leaders have viewed it?
3. Read Matthew 7:1-2, Mark 4:24-25, Luke 6:37-38 What’s the connection between judgement and forgiveness?
4. Read Matthew 7:3-5, Luke 6:41-42 What sins were the Jewish leaders condemning? What do we condemn? How does it make you feel to imagine society’s sins as “specks”? (And bear in mind, if you've come up with a sin that you really, really know is absolutely evil, your anger at my question is just what the Jewish leaders felt when they heard Jesus!)
5. Read Luke 6:39-40 Who were the blind? Who are the blind today?
6. Read Matthew 7:6 Who were the dogs? Who are the dogs?
If we’re not supposed to judge—if we’re not supposed to change the world by telling people what they’re doing wrong—what should we do? How can we change the world?
1. Read Matthew 7:7-12, Luke 11:5-13 The Luke passage comes straight after Jesus’ teaching on prayer (the Lord’s prayer). What did Jesus teach us to ask for in the Lord’s prayer?
2. What if a child asks for a stone or a scorpion? How would a parent respond?
3. How much do we trust God when we pray? And how do we know we’re not praying for scorpions? And how do we balance faith in God’s love with faith in prayer’s power?
4. Do you really believe that prayer can change / redeem the world?
Matthew continues with Jesus’ teaching about the “narrow gate,” a lesson which Luke places much nearer the Passion, when Jesus is in Jerusalem, quite likely looking at a narrow gate (so we’ll look at this later). Then he reminds us (and his listeners) how to recognize false prophets. Read Matthew 7:15-20, Luke 6:43-45
1. What do you think “By their fruits you shall know them” means?
2. Have you ever tried to look at the “fruit” of someone to determine if you will believe them?
3. What is a false prophet? Is it just someone who makes a false prediction, or is Jesus talking about something more insidious?
4. Some of Jesus’ listeners proved to be false prophets. How can we make sure we’re not false prophets too?
5. What’s the connection between false prophets and judgement? Read Matthew 7:21-23
Matthew finishes his account of the Sermon on the Mount with a well-known parable. Read Matthew 7:24-28, Luke 6:46-49. Some developers do build in risky places, but we don’t build our own houses very often. Can you think of a modern analogy that would deliver the same immediate message to people today? What about building our worldview from Facebook, trusting our retirement savings to someone without checking their background…?
Read Luke 6:46. How should we judge? How should we live? How should we pray?