We’re in a new series called “Foundations” which builds off of Jesus’ metaphor in Matt 7: “A house built on sand will never be able to stand BUT a house that’s built on the rock will never be able to fall.”
This week, we’re in Practice #9: Go Do Justice. God’s righteousness and justice are a major theme in both the Old Testament and the New Testament because they are intrinsic to His own character. God’s people are to show the world who God is by being people characterized by righteous living and a pursuit of justice. In Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Moses instructs the leaders of the twelve tribes to make sure that there is justice at the highest level: “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
If we fast forward several centuries, the people ruling at the time of Jesus are a sect of Jews known as the Pharisees. They’re highly regarded by the people and have a reputation for holy living. But Jesus exposes them as “white-washed tombs” - men who pervert God’s ways while pretending to be holy. Jesus instructs His disciples to do the opposite of the Pharisees. Jesus’ followers are to be characterized by justice and righteousness, in keeping with Moses’ words in Deuteronomy.
Let’s spend a few minutes examining the text in the Sermon on the Mount as a way to see what righteousness and justice look like when lived out in ordinary human life. Today, we’ll read from Matthew 7:1-6 (NET):
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.”
Some questions and next steps:
- Would you characterize yourself as a judgmental person? Why or why not? What is the difference between making a judgment and being judgmental?
- Are humans prone to partiality or impartiality in their judgments of others? Why? Contrast this with the way that God judges.
- Justice/righteousness require that when a wrong has been done, there is a just punishment. Where else in Scripture do you see evidence that God cares about proper judgment against sin?
- Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for His righteousness, and confessing the areas of hypocrisy in your life. Ask Him to make you more concerned for your own righteousness than quick to judge others’ unrighteousness. Ask Him to make you more like His Son, Jesus.
Published on 11-25-2021 @ 4:48 AM CDT