Sawdust and planks

Freshwater Staff   -  

In the seventh week of our Sermon on the Mount series, Josh Raines went all the way back in Genesis to look at the implicit authority God gave to humanity. But because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden, our relationship with God was fractured, and it remains fractured today.

We see the wounds of sin and disobedience reflected in our government, our financial institutions, in our churches, and even in our closest relationships. But we are called to be different, to be countercultural.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” He’s calling us to take a hard look at how we exercise the power and authority we have been given and to steward it well in our relationships.

We looked at Matthew 7:1-12, a passage that starts with these words from Jesus: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Josh encouraged us to not to view the word “judge” through our cultural lens. Instead, Jesus’ use of “judge” should be read as synonymous with the term “censorious,” which means to be a fault-finder, to be negative and destructive toward others, to construct the worst possible motives for others, to be ungenerous toward the mistakes of others and, worst of all, to set ourselves up as a censor and claim the competence and authority to sit in judgment over another person.

Should we take that to mean we shouldn’t operate with discernment? On the contrary, in Matthew 10, Jesus tells his disciples to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” We are not excused from seeing the world through the lens of Scripture and rightly discerning what is “good” and what is “bad,” with the help of the Holy Spirit.

However, we must be very careful about leveraging the power and authority that we have to place ourselves in a position of condemnation over others that only God can rightly occupy. Jesus alone holds the position of ultimate authority and ultimate power.

Josh left us with these two questions to consider:

  • Jesus, how have I used the power and authority that You have given to me and tried to use it against You?
  • How have I used the power and authority that You have given to me and used it against my neighbor? When others ask for bread or a fish, have I given them stones or snakes (Matthew 7:9-11)?
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