Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 26
Thesis: What expectations should we have in an imperfect world?
Introduction: We have been working our way through Jesus' instructions to His disciples regarding their practice of Kingdom ethics in a non-Kingdom world. We have seen that the "big" issue is practicing a valid view of God toward those who endure our actions. We have seen that the Kingdom is focused upon "compassion" in a way that if we show compassion, we will be "the children of the Highest" (Luke 6:35). And we have seen that there are certain hindrances to the practice of compassion: illegitimate judgment; and self-serving condemnation. And last week we saw that the primary way to practice compassion is to separate people from the moral burdens they bear toward us. No disciple can actually separate someone from their moral responsibilities, but we can refrain from insisting that people treat us as they ought. If we are willing to simply focus upon what the failure of moral responsibility will mean to those who fail, we can become "compassionate" toward the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35).
One thing that I have done in these studies is to give the statements by Jesus regarding the impact that the behavior of His disciples will have upon themselves only a passing glance. Jesus said, "Judge not and you will not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; and release folks and ye shall be released." He went on to say, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over...". Before we go there -- one of the main preaching points of the prosperity folks -- I want to go back and pick up what we have barely considered. What does it mean that we "will not be judged", "will not be condemned", and "will be released"?
April 20, 2008
- I. First Question: In What Sense is This True?
- A. This question arises from one simple fact: Jesus, Himself, did not seem to experience the positive things that He encouraged His disciples to "expect".
- 1. He pointedly said that He had not come into the world to "judge" it, but that very world "judged" Him to be demon possessed, a liar, an illegitimate son of an immoral woman with a "Messiah" complex, and a colossal deceiver.
- 2. He clearly never "condemned the innocent", but was, just as clearly, "condemned", being guiltless, and put to death as a criminal.
- 3. He was continually willing to release men from their failures to live up to their moral responsibilities, but He was pressed beyond measure for "failures" that His enemies continually accused Him of doing.
- B. This question arises also from another reality: in this very sermon Jesus told His disciples that they would be badly treated by men "for His sake" (6:22).
- 1. The "for His sake" phrase has to mean that they were going to be doing what He wanted them to do.
- 2. That they were to be treated badly because of that seems to fly in the face of His words in our text.
- C. The answer has two distinct sides to it.
- 1. On the one hand, Jesus' words are "proverbial" as they relate to the practice of Kingdom ethics in a non-Kingdom setting.
- a. "Proverbial" means two things: one, that there is a "normal" reality where things "generally" work a certain way; and, two, that there is also an "abnormal" reality where "how things are going to work" is anyone's guess.
- b. In most situations, even "sinners" will respond in kind (6:32-34).
- c. But in some situations, "sinners" will not respond in kind and will be extraordinarily malicious (6:28-30).
- 2. On the other hand, Jesus' words have an "it will all come out right in the end" kind of reality.
- a. In 6:23 Jesus deliberately made "in heaven" the final rationale for following His doctrine.
- b. In 6:35 Jesus deliberately made "your reward shall be great" a motivation for not expecting men to "respond in kind".
- II. Second Question: What is the Point of "Proverbial" Statements?
- A. They allow us to function.
- 1. Without a "norm", no one can do much of anything.
- 2. "Norms" allow us to go about our daily lives.
- B. They warn us against idolatry.
- 1. That "norms" cannot be "trusted" means that we are not supposed to be "trusting" the "processes".
- 2. Everywhere in the Scriptures we are cautioned against worshipping the creature rather than the Creator.
- 3. Never in the Scriptures are we encouraged to put any stock in our "proverbial" expectations so that Time is more important to us than Eternity.
- III. Third Question: What Do Jesus' Proverbs Actually Mean for the Present?
- A. "Judge not and ye shall not be judged" means that, generally speaking, if we take an unhypocritical stance in our considerations of others, we will be treated with the same kind of unhypocritical considerations by others.
- 1. This means, first, that however I "judge" another unhypocritically, my judgment will only have the welfare of others in view.
- 2. This means, second, that people will respond "in kind" in that if they feel that they have to "judge" me, it will be for my sake, or, at least, the sake of those whose experience is affected by my behavior.
- B. "Condemn not and ye shall not be condemned" means that, generally speaking, if we refrain from using a distorted Law to our advantage at someone else's expense, we will be spared injustice by others.
- C. "Release and ye shall be released" means that, generally speaking, if I do not insist that people treat me properly, they will not require me to put them on a pedestal either.
- IV. Fourth Question: What Expectations Should We Have in an Imperfect World?
- A. First, there is no legitimacy in "expecting" anything from this world in this world.
- 1. If you "fall apart" when your expectations "fall apart", you were over-committed to your own agenda.
- 2. Everywhere in the Bible we are told to trust only in God and to always be willing to have our plans changed.
- B. Second, even with God, there are many things we should not "expect".
- 1. The "grace" of God means that we cannot "expect" things to work according to His rules: He is free and we have no basis for trying to tie Him to "Law".
- 2. There are numerous situations in this world that have not been addressed with specific revelation and we have no right to try to create our own "words from God" so that we may "expect" what we want.
- C. Third, with God there are certain things that we must "expect".
- 1. The "integrity" of God means that we must "expect" everything that He has promised: to do less is to fall into an evil heart of unbelief.
- a. We must, therefore, understand where He is speaking to us in terms of promise and not proverb.
- 1) This means that we have to know what, of all that He has said, applies to us.
- 2) This means that we are willing to make Him our life instead of any other.
- b. We must, therefore, be willing to take the consequences of "believing".
- 2. The "plan" of God means that we must understand that He is working to bring a perfect world into being ... but it is not yet here.