Huddles: October 16, 2019

Rescued to a Kingdom: No Room to Judge

The Main Idea

As you lead students in the final couple of discussions about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and what it has to say to us as those rescued to live a Gospel-centered life, you’re going to be challenging students to live out their faith in relevant, practical ways. One of those ways is by considering how they think about others. Even when they aren’t aware of it, having a judgmental attitude toward others is something many students struggle with. You’ll help remind students that this is something Jesus spoke out against in several places in Scripture. It’s also yet another way they can set themselves apart as counter-cultural.

The Lead-In

FIRST, explain to students that you’re going to play a game where you’re going to look at a very close-up view of an object (HERE is the link to the slideshow). The goal is to guess what the object is based on the close-up pic. You can choose to do this as a competition by dividing up the group into teams, or you can simply let students call out the objects they think the images represent. For each close-up image, be sure to display the corresponding “big picture” image.

THEN, engage students in a discussion about why this was difficult. Nothing too in-depth. The idea you want to help pass along is that oftentimes, we put ourselves in the position of knowing more of the “picture” than we really do, or should. Today’s lesson is a reminder that our view is somewhat limited (kind of like looking at only a small piece of a larger object), and it’s all because of our perspective.

FINALLY, close the activity by saying something like the following to students:

  • Just because we get a few lucky guesses doesn’t mean that our first perceptions are always right. Oftentimes we think we know what’s going on, and yet we may be totally off-base. We do this a lot when we judge other people’s actions. When we judge other people based on their actions, we are claiming to know more than we can really know. Instead, we should focus on making sure our own actions represent ourselves the way we ought to be living. Let’s take a closer look at what Jesus had to say about this.  

Digging In

Take a moment to make sure everyone has a Bible.

FIRST, lead students in a short discussion. Ask something like:

  • How many of you have ever said the words, “Don’t judge me!” Even if you haven’t, it’s something you’ve probably heard someone say, right?
  • Why does it bother you when someone judges you?
    • Answers will vary.
  • Do you ever think it is fair to judge someone else? Why or why not?
    • Allow that most people will judge other people from time to time. We tend to do this most when someone does something we don’t approve of or agree with. But help students see that judging someone goes beyond just saying or thinking that what they did was wrong. Judging someone leads us to the point of claiming to know someone else’s motives, intentions, or character, and feeling like we’re in a position to condemn them.

Explain that you’re going to look a little closer at what Jesus has to say about this. Then, instruct students to turn to Matthew 7. While they are doing this, consider providing the context for the passage using the Bible Background portion of your lesson plan. Then, read or have another student read Matthew 7:1-5. When finished, ask the following questions:

  • Look at verses 1-2. What does this passage say will happen to you if you are judgmental toward others?
    • Answer: You will be judged with the same measure.
  • What do you think that means? Put it in your words.
    • While answers will vary, help students to see that these verses aren’t just talking about the concept of “what goes around comes around.” Jesus is stating that God is the ultimate judge of the citizens of His Kingdom and will take into account how each of us has judged one another. This is a serious matter to consider.
  • So, if you’re catty, or have a short fuse, or are bitter toward others in how you judge their actions, does this mean that God will act the same way toward you? Why or why not?
    • Answer: No, this does NOT mean that God is going to stoop to our level and become petty and unfair. That is not in His character. God will always judge us according to His perfect nature. It means that we need to be very cautious not to put ourselves in the place of God by setting ourselves up as judge over other people’s motives and actions. If we set ourselves up in the place of God, we are no longer behaving as subjects in His Kingdom and are likely to encounter God’s discipline.

NEXT, have students re-read verses 3-5. Then, ask:

  • We see the humanness of Jesus in His teaching when He uses metaphors like this one. What do you know about Jesus’ life on earth that might have led Him to choose this particular metaphor?
    • Answer: Jesus grew up as a carpenter in the days before safety goggles!
  • There are quite a few scholars who think Jesus is being absurd here to the point of near-comedy. Why is this metaphor kind of ridiculous?
    • Answer: Even the tiniest speck of sawdust can cause unbearable pain and blurred vision, but a plank…now that is a serious problem! The picture is literally of a person with a log hanging out of their eye. It is a fitting example to show how silly it is to ignore our own sin issues while we point out the sin of others.

Before moving on, remind students that if they have ever flown on an airplane, they’ve heard a similar concept when the flight attendant says, “In case of loss of cabin pressure, be sure to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” The idea is that if you can’t function properly, you can’t really help anyone else. Leading others toward repentance works the same way. If you don’t examine your own heart first, it is unlikely that you will handle the sin of others in a way that points them toward repentance.

THEN, turn over to James 4:11-12 and have a student read it out loud. When he or she has finished, explain that the Kingdom of God is made up of citizens who have been saved by grace through faith, not by works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). For this reason, grace should be a defining characteristic of God’s Kingdom! Ask:

  • Being judgmental almost always leads to talking badly about other people. How is this damaging to those inside and outside of the Kingdom?
    • Answer: There are many effects of judgmental gossip. For believers in the Kingdom, it causes division, hard-heartedness, and a lack of focus on the Gospel. Those outside the Kingdom see hypocrisy and an unchanged people, rather than a reflection of the changing power of God’s grace.
  • Refraining from a judgmental attitude is a responsibility that we carry as citizens in God’s Kingdom. What does verse 11 say we are really judging when we judge each other?
    • Answer: We judge the law itself. In other words, we behave as though grace were not enough even though it’s the foundation of our salvation.
  • How does remembering grace and forgiveness as the basis of your salvation help you to refrain from judging others?
    • Answer: Let students process this personal question. We each must reflect on our own sinfulness and God’s mercy in order to have a right attitude toward the sin of others. We must all be thankful that we do NOT receive what we deserve!

 

Ask if there are any questions, then transition into the Wrap-Up.

Wrap Up

FIRST, inform your students that you are going to try a little exercise that might feel awkward at first. Say something like:

  • If we are going to refrain from judging others, we have to learn to look for the positive. It only makes sense to start right here in our own group. You are going to have an opportunity to point out some positives in others, and be encouraged at the same time!

 

THEN, tell students to grab a partner (girls find a girl and boys find a boy) and sit so they are facing each other. Explain that they are going to have one minute to say three to five kind things to the person they are facing. Then their partner will return the favor. When two minutes are up, find another partner (same situation: girls find a girl and boys find a boy). Then they will repeat the process with their new partner. Say:

  • The only rules are this: you must be kind, specific, and NOT superficial! (Don’t just tell everyone that you like their shoes!)

FINALLY, when you have finished, explain that it’s virtually impossible to sit in judgment of someone when we are striving to see the good in them. In this way, we are seeing them as God sees them. Challenge your students to remember this little exercise as a way of approaching people in their lives, both at home and at school.

If no one has anything to add, close your time in prayer.