Why We Like To Judge and Condemn

Text: Luke 6:36-42

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is really giving us an alternative to the golden rule.  He is not just saying, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Instead, He is taking the golden rule to a different level.  He is making it 2.0.  Listen carefully. He says:  “Do unto others as you would have your heavenly Father do unto you.

In other words, do you want God not to judge and condemn you?  Then don’t be judging and condemning others.  Do you want God to forgive you of your sins and give you the bounty of His riches?  Then let go of those grudges and put stinginess far from you.  You see, today’s Gospel reading is not hard to understand, Jesus lays it out pretty clearly.

But there is something inside of us that does not like what Jesus has to say.  There is something about us that does not like to let go of old wounds; we like to replay those times when we have been hurt in our mind to fan the flames of resentment and keep the bitterness burning. Yes, there is something inside of us that actually likes judging and condemning others. 

And that something inside of us is that old Adam, that part of our nature that is sinful and rotten to the core. 

But why does the old Adam like to judge and condemn others?  I am not talking about a judging that discerns sin in a person’s life – sin that should be pointed out in love, but rather I am speaking about judging others in a way that destroys.  In other words, I am not talking about judging and discerning sin to redeem a person from a wrong but a loveless judging that is meant to enact vengeance upon someone for a wrong.  So, why does the old Adam in all of us resort to this loveless-destructive judging?  It is because the old Adam is all about pride.  The old Adam thinks more of
himself than he should!

Indeed, the old Adam has a way of building himself up by pointing out and condemning and gossiping about the sins and failings of others.  If we can point out other people’s sin, we can then mock them behind their backs. Not only does it make us feel like we are better than them but it also puts these other people under our thumb – under our control.  Or so we think. 

And why does the old Adam want to hold on to grudges and refuses to let go of the wrongs that we suffer? The answer, because our sinful nature believes that if you do not look out for #1, no one will.  The old Adam does not want us to be just doormats that others will wipe their feet on.  The old Adam does not trust that vengeance is the Lord’s and that the Lord will repay. The old Adam wants to be the prosecutor, judge, and jury of other people’s sins. 

And why is the old Adam in us so stingy?  The answer, because our sinful nature does not trust the Father to provide for our every need. Our sinful nature thinks that it is all up to us and our hard work.  We fail to realize that all that we have is one big-good-gift from God.  Tragically, we rather believe that all that we have is due solely to our hard work – all that we have earned.  And so, we hold tightly to all that we have with stingy tight-fisted hands. 

Does this old Adam sound familiar? Does this sinful nature sound familiar?  All of this should be very familiar.  We should all know this old Adam – this sinful nature – very well.  The reason why?  This old Adam is alive inside of everyone of you and me.  And this sinful nature does not believe the Lord, despises the Lord’s Ten Commandments, and wants to rule and control you. This sinful nature wants to be your master and commander.  This sinful nature wants to keep us cozy in the much and poison of sin.

But contrary to what the devil and the old Adam might whisper into our ears, the good news of the Gospel is that we have been claimed by Another.  We have been marked with the sign of the cross, and we belong to the New Adam, the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus.  Yes, you and I are baptized into Christ.  Jesus’ life has been given to you and me so that we might live as one of His own.  We belong to the Lord, not to sin, death, the devil, and the old Adam.    

Dear Baptized Saints, even though this might sound too good to be true, stop and think of our Lord for a moment.  Did He come into the world to judge and condemn?  No, in His first Advent – in His birth and life and death and resurrection some 2,000 years ago – He came for the sole purpose to rescue us. He came for those who were already judged and condemned by the Law.  He came not to be served but to ransom mankind who stands guilty under the Law; He came to redeem those worthy of death.  God did not send His Son into the world – into human flesh - to condemn the world but rather that the world might be saved through Him!

Baptized Saints, did Jesus come to humanity some 2,000 years ago to pay us back for our rebellion and distrust of God?  No, He did not!  He came to rescue us from our sins by taking them upon Himself and enduring the weight of His Father’s judgment as He hung on the cross.  “Father, forgive” is the cry of Jesus’ life!  “Father, forgive” is the message of the Cross!  And all who take shelter under Jesus’ cross in faith are just that: forgiven.  His cross is like a great shield protects from the wrath of God. 

And unlike the old Adam with his distrust of God, our Lord Jesus accomplished everything by trusting His Father.  And the Father was not disappointed in Jesus’ trust. 

Jesus who had not judged and not condemned, but had forgiven and given everything, even to the point of laying down His life, was raised on the third day and seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty for all eternity.

This is the same life that Jesus has given to you in your Baptisms: forgiveness, life, and salvation.  Furthermore, in those Baptisms, the Lord calls us to drown that old Adam and the old Adam’s distrust of God.  Yes, we are called to daily drown that old Adam in repentance of our sins, confessing that we have logs in our own eyes – logs of pride, resentment, stinginess, and distrust.  You see, the old Adam daily clings to us around our neck, which means that the old Adam must daily die.  Indeed, the end of the old Adam is not moral advancement or holy progress, but death.  Yes, the old Adam died in our baptisms, and daily dies in our repentance and faith, as we are returned daily to our identity as Baptized Saints! 

What this all means is this.  When we confess our sins to God and receive His absolution, the old Adam not only drowns, but we are also, “taking the log out of your own eye” so that we can finally be of some use to our neighbors.

Dear friends, when you truly see yourself as a sinner, as a prisoner who had been condemned justly and sitting on death row, but who has now been given an undeserved pardon and absolution; then you are a forgiven sinner who can freely love your neighbor!  Only forgiven people can truly forgive and only loved people can truly love.  We love because He first loved us! 

Today and every Sunday, Christ continues His giving to us.  In His Word, in Holy Baptism, in the confession and absolution and in His Holy Supper.  Indeed, our Lord pours into us more life than we can hold.

In all these wonderful ways He reaches out and gives to us His forgiveness for all our sins in His promise and seals that forgiveness to us with His own body and blood.

Baptized Saints, you have received all good things from our Lord, and the rich forgiveness it gives.  Walk not in the pride and grudges of the old Adam, for you belong not to darkness, but to light.  Leave this church today in the name of Jesus.  Leave today knowing that Jesus has given mercy, mercy from the Father.  Leave this day being strengthened in faith towards God and love towards your neighbors
In the name of Jesus: Amen.

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