Jesus Calls Disciples to Judge
Description: Jesus does want us to be able to hear the positive constructive criticism from others about our lives. We should want to give and receive feedback so that this good tree can bear good fruit.
Keywords: Gospel, Jesus, God, Luke, narrative, Son of God, Bible, Sermon, Bible Fellowship Church, BFC, Whitehall, Northern Lehigh
Date: February 28, 2016
Speaker: Pastor Tim
Scripture: Luke 6:43-45
Video: Watch this Sermon
Audio: Listen to this Sermon (time 54:35)
Notes: Read Sermon Notes
Transcript (new way)
“Jesus Calls Disciples to Judge” CLARENCE REHRIG: (Luke 6:43-45) “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” And may God bless the reading of his Word. PASTOR SCHMOYER: By sign of hands how many of you have arrived? You’re perfect, you’re flawless, you’re without any problems. Anyone? I see that hand. No. Upstairs anyone? No, no? You’ve not arrived? You’re not perfect? PASTOR GENE: They’re in the other room. PASTOR SCHMOYER: They’re in the other room. Out of the mouths of nursing babes, right? The kids are in the other room. Yeah, we’re not perfect, and I think we just need to wake up and realize that fact and have a bit of humility. I’m not there yet. You know, there’s a famous saying that goes like this: I’m not what I’m supposed to be and I’m not what I could be, but praise the Lord I’m not what I used to be. And I think we can all resonate with that, that God has moved us forward; he’s changed us from what we used to be and he is maturing us. I’m not there yet, I’m developing, and you’re developing, and together we need to treat each other in a way that is humble. Okay, I can’t effect change in you if I’m struggling with that myself. We studied that last week. The blind can’t lead the blind; they’re both going to fall into the pit, right? We need someone that can see and identify our problem, that can speak truth into us and give us a help up, that can see and address the problem clearly. We ended last week in verse 42 where Jesus says first take the log out of your own eye, the plank out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to help take the speck out of your brother’s eye. That’s where I want to launch off of today in today’s passage about fruit, bearing good fruit. God wants all of us to mature. That’s true, amen? God wants all of us to take a step forward and to grow in some aspect of our faith. And we’re not going to do that overnight, that’s not going to be an end process here in this world. When Jesus comes back he will perfect us. I Corinthians 13 says that when the perfect comes, we all will be changed and we will all be perfected, we will know fully just as we are fully known; all when the perfect comes. We believe that’s when Jesus returns for us. So I’m not there yet, but that doesn’t leave any of us off the hook, that, oh, well, I’m just going to wallow in my error until he comes back and cleans me up a hundred percent, and I’ll go from 5 percent today to a hundred percent when he returns. No. Like every day we should be going from 5 percent to 6 percent, go from 6 percent to 8 percent. Every time we should be growing, we should ask God’s Spirit to change us. And part of today’s message is this: We should seek out the counsel, advice, and encouragement, and sometimes even yelling, from someone else in the faith. We should glean their successes; we should learn from their mistakes; and we should seek each other out for help and for encouragement. Today Jesus calls his disciples to judge. Now, last week we talked about don’t judge, right? Don’t judge, lest you yourself be judged, verse 37. And today we’re looking at verse 42 and 43 and following where Jesus now wants us actually to judge. There’s a difference between evaluation and judgmentalism. Do you think that that’s true? That there’s a critical spirt, a judgmental spirit, a hate-filled spirit that seeks to destroy other people. That’s the kind of spirit Jesus was attacking last week. Now this week what he’s saying is I want you to actually evaluate, judge, critique, seek to improve, seek to build up and construct someone else. It always begins with ourself, and as we go through just 1, 2, 3, and 4 today in your sermon notes we’re going to talk about evaluating the fruit that is in different people’s lives, and it begins with us. Let’s unpack the passage, and then we’ll apply it in those different circumstances. So in verse 43, “No good tree bears bad fruit, and no bad tree bears good fruit.” This is a parable, and let me just quickly give you what he’s talking about. Up on the screen we’ll see this. Okay. The tree is you. You are the tree, I am the tree, everyone is a tree; and the question is, am I a good tree, am I a bad tree? You see, to discern, to come to some conclusion is this life, my life, your life, a good life or is it a bad life, we need some ability to judge, some ability to evaluate, some ability to critique. And we need to look into our own lives and say, what is rotten on this tree? I am the tree. What fruits, what behaviors need addressing? Because if you’ve ever let one apple rot on the tree or one apple rot in the barrel, what does the saying say? One rotten apple spoils the whole lot, spoils the whole bunch. And so I don’t want my life to be ruined. Let me take off the things that are rotting, let me take off the things that are diseased, because I want to be a good tree, I want to live a noble life. I want God to look at me and say, You’re doing well, son. Here are some ways to improve, here are some ways to adjust, but I’m pleased with you. I want my Father in heaven to say that about me, and I hope that you want your Father in heaven to say that about you. So you’re the tree, your behaviors are the fruit. And then this is not quite so evident, but look at the very end of the passage. It says in verse 45, “out of the abundance of your heart your mouth speaks.” So if the fruit is behavior, where does the fruit get all its energy, nutrients, water, oxygen; where does the fruit get its energy and sugars and taste from? Well, from the roots, right? So the sap is coming up and nourishing the whole tree. And so in our homes we’re seeing the temperatures go up, the sunlight getting brighter, and so the trees are starting to bud. Why? Because all the sap that was in the root, now it’s coming up. And in our life out of our hearts we create behaviors. Out of the energy that’s stored in my heart, out of the wealth and the resource and, what does he say, the treasure, the hidden treasure of our hearts. Right? Verse 45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart.” So out of these roots, out of this heart comes my behavior. And so a lot of our issues are seeing the behavior and then transferring. Okay, my behavior comes from my heart. I don’t need to change my behavior, I need to change my heart. If I understand my motivations, if I understand my lusts and my thoughts and what makes me tick, and if I tweak my roots, if I tweak my sap, my energy store, my rationale, my thought processes, that’s going to change my behavior. I want to be a good tree bearing good fruit. I don’t want to be a bad tree bearing bad fruit. One last thing, one last thought from the passage. Verse 44. Each tree, you, me, the person next to you, each tree is known by its fruit, known. Each tree is identified by its fruit. And so I look at you and I say, I see this person’s behavior, I see this person’s ways of speaking. I see their tone; I see their attitudes; I see a variety of behaviors; and I say: Now, that is a person that’s close to the Lord. Or I say to myself instead: Now, that’s a person that needs to grow a bit in the Lord. So that’s not judgmental; that’s actually helpful. Because we want to help each other bear more fruit, right? That’s the point of this whole passage. I want to help you grow, I want to help you be better than you are today. So let’s look at applying this passage to different types of people, and we’ll just walk through 1, 2, 3, 4. In the first section of your notes, I want to be evaluative, I want to be constructively critical of the fruit that’s in my life. Now, we’ll go back to last week and quickly say: All right, Jesus wants his disciples to not judge. So there’s some typos in today’s bulletin, and that’s on me. And so I’ll just apply last week’s sermon to you: Please don’t judge, right? All right. And there’s two typos. Just we’ll get them out of the way first. It should be evaluating fruit, not evaluating in fruit, so that first “in” is wrong. And then the check box at the very bottom, No. 4, this was another typo of mine, and I wrote immortality and it should be immorality. All right. Don’t judge, don’t judge, but evaluate and say this guy did it too quickly. And Pastor Aaron is blaming me up at Northern Lehigh for those typos, and that’s okay. Evaluating fruit in my life. Before I take my specks and speck out the fruit in you, I’m going to speck out the fruit that’s in me; the behaviors, the attitudes, the motivations that are going on in this heart. Before I take the speck out of you I got to take the plank out of my own eye so that I can help you. That’s where we ended last week. So evaluating myself, myself. God has a lot of things to say about all of us, and in pride we look at the problems and faults in other people, and a truly godly person is humble and humility says let’s fix myself first. What’s going on in this wretched heart before I try to help that wretched heart. That’s humility, that’s honesty. So I just have a couple quick verses. We’re just going to rattle these off. So up in the AV room, God bless you this morning. You’re going to have to click real good this morning. I’m just going to go right through all these verses. They’re footnoted in your sermon notes, you can look them up later. But they’re on the screen today, and if you want to go through it with me, you can do that. II Corinthians 13, verse 5 says this: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” So Paul is saying to you, to me, to everyone, there should be some self-evaluation. He uses the word in the passage, he uses it twice, “test.” There should be some things going on in my spirit of testing whether I’m a genuine Christian or a faker. And God doesn’t want the genuine to feel like they’re faking it. He certainly wants the fakers to wake up and smell the coffee. You’re so close, you don’t know that you’re not in. God wants you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re in his family. He wants you to enjoy the fact that you’re his, adopted into his household. He wants you to relax and feel the grace that he offers, if indeed Christ is in you. And we offer all sorts of encouragement, but the fact of the matter is that there are some in this room even now that you think you’re in and you’re not in. Take the test. Ask the Lord: Rummage through this heart, oh, God; see if it’s real or see if I’m tricking myself. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Or he puts it this way in Philippians. Go to Philippians 2, verse 12 and 13. Up on the screen you can see it. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is working in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” You see, genuine believers, we are saved by his grace. There’s nothing that you need to do to earn his love. He loves all of us unconditionally. We don’t need to work, work, work to earn our eternal life. Eternal life is a gift that God gives. But he puts it this way: You are saved; now work out, work out. Or we might put it this way in the exercise realm. You have muscles, now work them out. Strengthen the faith that he gifted to you, strengthen it, work it, use it, put it into practice. It is God who is working in you, but you are called by him to work it out, to grow it. And when we grow, part of the growth is recognizing I was weak in that area, now I’m stronger by his grace and by his working in me and by my working out my salvation. John the Baptist puts it this way in Luke chapter 3, verse 8. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” See this? John the Baptist is saying the exact same thing Paul was saying. He’s saying you can clothe yourselves in false faith, disingenuous faith. You can fake it, you can trick yourself: I’m okay, I’m covered. I’m in Abraham’s family, by faith I’m in Abraham’s family. And he’s saying no, no, no, no. Don’t just clothe yourselves in grace and never apply the grace of transformation, right? A lot of people in our day and age love grace, but they think grace is about forgiveness. Grace is about forgiveness, but grace is also about being transformed. He empowers you to be saved, and he empowers you to be changed; to strengthen your faith, to build up what is lacking in your character. All right? And I have this conversation with sin-filled Christians all the time. Grace is about forgiveness, but grace is also about transforming. And that’s exactly what John the Baptist is saying. You’ve repented; now bear fruit in keeping with that repentance. In other words, a truly saved individual will grow. So I’ll ask you, are you growing? When was the last time you boldly stepped out blindly to believe God to change this thing in you, or have you folded up your hands and said, God forgave me and I’m just going to stay the way I am; I’m just going to get to heaven by the skin of my teeth. I don’t want to get to heaven by the skin of my teeth. I want to get to heaven and God pat me on the back and say, Son, you’ve done well. You’ve been a good and faithful servant of mine. Enter into the joy of your master. Finally I’ll wrap it up with Psalm 139, self-evaluation, evaluating my own life. Before I start looking at anyone else, before I try to help anyone else, let me help my own wretched heart. And listen to what David says in Psalm 139, verses 23 and 24. In the last two verses of the chapter he says this. This is a prayer to God. “God, search me and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in your everlasting way.” When have you last asked God something like that? When have you last asked God, I want to keep short accounts with you. I don’t want to pile up the multitude of sins and then have them all, you know, omnibus washed away. I want to keep very short tabs. I want to come to you, and, God, here’s this grievous way in me and forgive me. God, here’s this grievous way in me; show me how I need to get over that, show me how I need to take the first step in improving myself, and I’ll trust you to guide me and I want to get over that, I want to beat that thing. I’m tired of it. And when was the last time you said, God, I don’t even know what’s going on in this wretched heart. Would you show me what’s going on; would you rummage through, search through, see where the grievous things are. Because I want to be led by you into your everlasting ways; I want to be led to change, I want to be led to improve. I want good fruit, good behavior, good attitudes coming off of this tree. I don’t want to be stuck in the bad fruit category. I would just encourage you, this is a beautiful prayer, and it’s beautifully written, but it’s even more beautiful when it’s actually getting prayed. Here’s my invitation to you, and it’s our first decision point of the morning. Maybe God is showing you this morning, I need to be more sensitive to where I need to change. I need to be more sensitive that I’m not done yet, and in humility I’m going to go to the Lord regularly and say: Here I am, God, search me. I’m just listening. Spirit, show me where I need to grow. I’m tired of being stuck where I am, show me what’s the next step for me. And if God is saying that to you this morning, that’s where, child of God, you need to grow, just check that off on your connection card or on your sermon notes: God, this week I’m going to pray that prayer every day. I’m going to come to you in my devotional time, I’m going to pray that. Right up on the screen you see it, in your notes you see the reference. I’m going to pray that prayer: search me, know me, try me, and change me. That’s what God wants to do. That’s what a Christian ought to want to do. We shouldn’t want to be comfortable in the forgiveness. We want to be more comfortable in the God, I’m ready to take the next step. Once we evaluate our own lives, the text in Luke 6 also would share with us we need to be evaluating other people’s lives as well. Once I’m done checking out my own fruit, I should care about the other trees in the orchard, I should care about other folks. And one of those types of folks that are in this passage are our leaders. All right? So if you’re back in Luke chapter 6, jump up again to verse 39. “Can a blind man lead a blind man?” So he’s talking about leadership, he’s talking about the leader. Can a blind man lead a blind man? And so if you recognize, you know, about yourself, I feel like I’m blind, I need some help to navigate the waters of this problem that I’m facing. I don’t have the answers, but I do know the question. The question is, How do I get over this gossipping tongue? The question might be for you, How do I get over this lustful thinking? The question in your heart might be, How do I become a better dad? I’m so absent, and I want to be very involved, very intentional. Whatever your question is, I feel like I’m blind, but I need an answer, I need some guidance; and you need to go to a leader who has already navigated those waters, who isn’t blind themself but is someone that can really help you, guide you. Too often there are too many Christians, and some of us, who aren’t quite so thoughtful about who we listen to. People on the TV, people on the radio, people on the internet, people running for office, people standing at this pulpit here, people standing at some other pulpit, people in the Sunday School class, people, you know, around. The other Christians at work that are sleeping with everybody and they’re drinking all night long, and they’re going to help you be a better Christian. That’s the blind leading the blind. I want someone that can see to help me and guide me and lead me. Evaluating your leader. This is not in judgmentalism, and I don’t want everyone getting out their connection card saying, Pastor Tim, this is what I see you need to change. But I’ll be receptive, I’ll have listening ears, because I’m not done yet, you’re not done yet, none of us are done yet. It’s not about critiquing and criticizing and nagging to death; it’s about wanting the best for your leaders. So just a couple verses. Hebrews 13:7. I love these verses, listen to it. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” What does that verse share with us? That we ought to be evaluating our leaders. Are my leaders godly? Are they growing in their faith? How is God using them? What’s the fruit on those trees, my leader’s life? For he says “consider the outcome of their way of life.” What does that mean? Judging; constructively you critique it. Not nag it to death, not to criticize it to death, but for constructive purposes. Consider the way of their life and imitate their faith. And when you consider the outcome of their way of life, consider that your leader might not be the greatest leader, might be the blind seeking to lead the blind. Who are you listening to; who are you giving your heart to; who are you entrusting your soul to? Listen to the next verse, from verse 17 of the same chapter. “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” I just want to pick apart that piece where it says they keep watch over your soul. If you’ve entrusted your soul to a leader, someone in the media, someone, you know, on the bully pulpit of politics, someone — hopefully this isn’t a bully pulpit here, telling you what to do all the time up front here. We entrust our souls to these individuals, and they’re going to give an account for the way that we walk. And here’s what I want you to realize. If you’re watching the fruit of the tree of your leader and you see that there’s growth, you see that there’s good fruit, you see that this person is a godly individual and you want to follow that, then when they speak to you things that you don’t want to hear about yourself: I see this in you and that needs to change. “You’re right.” Can we all just say that? Let’s just practice that. “You’re right, Pastor.” Can we practice that? Just say — forget the pastor part. It’s not about me. It’s not about me, because later we’re going to get to inspecting the fruit of other believers. Can we all just practice that? “You’re right.” Say it like you mean it. All right? This is what we’re talking about. Your leader is going to give an account for your soul. When I get to heaven, Jesus is going to say, Tim, what were you doing in your life, what was going on in that? And he pulls out the filing drawer, and he says, what happened on December 19, 1987? And I’ll say, oh, good, grief. I don’t remember. Tell me, help me. Right? I’m going to have to give an account for myself. Every leader is going to have to give an account for their own life, for their own growth or lack thereof. And this verse says not only am I going to give an account for my own walk, I’m going to have to give an account for your walk. And elders and Pastor Gene and Pastor Aaron who’s up at Northern Lehigh this morning, we’re going to have to give an account for every soul that’s in this room. Why were we so lazy in addressing the issue that was clearly going on in that individual? And I cop out with the word “patience.” I was patient. And he’ll say, no, you weren’t patient; you were ignoring a clear problem. And it’s been too often my situation where I call someone out and they say, forget you. Pssh, leave it. That’s not godly. It’s not godly that when you entrust your soul to a leader, and they’re going to have to give an account to God for your way of life, and then they call you on it; and you say, don’t judge, lest you yourself be judged. See, we know enough of scripture that we talk our way out of these problems. No, no, no, no. I am going to have to answer to God for why you were so not committed to improving your way of life. It pains me to know that when I approach someone, they’re not going to listen to that, they’re going to leave. God cares about your fruit; he cares about how lazy your faith is or how serious your faith is; and he cares that your leaders would call you on that stuff. Will you cultivate ears to hear? Will you cultivate eyes to see? Will you cultivate humility to say I am not in the right place and I need to hear from you? I am the blind one, and I see, leader, that you can see. Would you help me through my issues? That’s what God wants. Too often in pride we throw up walls and say, I don’t need to listen to you. I have this personal relationship with God, and God’s going to call me on it. And I’m saying to you based on Hebrews 13:17, he is calling you on it. He’s using me to do that. Just like the Holy Spirit pushed on Nathan to go to David and say, David, you are the man. You did steal the sheep of your neighbor. You stole the wife of your friend Uriah. What were you doing? You are that man. And David, the man of God, the man after God’s heart, what does he do? “You’re right; you’re right.” You see, a person of God, a person that’s fashioned after God’s heart isn’t a person that’s perfect, it’s a person that says “You’re right.” When I hear the truth, the truth convicts me. “You’re right.” And can we all cultivate that spirit to say you’re right? I need to listen to you because I can’t get myself out of this ditch. Would you reach down and help me out of this ditch? This is what’s going on in evaluating the fruit of your leader, saying to your leader, “You need to grow,” but listening to your leader; “I need to grow; help me, lead me.” And so I just want to call you on it, and then we’ll move on. The connection, the decision: Pray for your elders. Our elders this season have just gone through so many obstinate people that don’t want to hear. And I’m sure if I was a layman and I had another job and I’d come to a meeting and we’re talking about another problem, I don’t know what I would do. And just pray for our elders that they would nobly and calmly, patiently, but under conviction lead our people that are obstinate. It is so discouraging. Pray for our elders that, number one, they would consistently bear fruit in their own faith, and also that they would help bear fruit in someone else’s faith, that they could help the blind man out of the ditch. All right. I’m going on, I’m moving forward. We’re skipping over the rest of those verses. You have them, you can read them later. All evaluation begins with myself. I am the man with the plank in my eye, I need that plank gone. God, I surrender myself to you, search me. I need to grow, I need to change. And then we look at our leaders and say, who has God put over me that can help me see more clearly? And I don’t want to follow the blind man, I want to follow someone that can really see. So I need to evaluate my leaders to know if this is a person that can clearly see or this is a person who’s bearing bad fruit, and I don’t want to follow them because I’m going to get myself into the situation they’re in. Now we move to clearly seeing and identifying and helping another believer. This is No. 3, “Evaluating the Fruit of Other Disciples.” I started asking you the question, have you arrived, are you perfect? And then I want to ask you the next question. By raise of hands, how many of you have ever seen a Christian do something wrong? What do you do about it? What should you do about it? I love you in the Lord, and I know that you love God, and I see this thing in you that God doesn’t love. He loves you, but he does not love that fruit that you’re bearing. Overcome that. Can I help you overcome that? There are two few Nathans that will go to the David and say, “You’re the man. I’ve seen this in you, this is wrong.” And we all give ourselves a pass. Well, I don’t want to judge, lest I myself be judged. You know, we apply that to people that have the boldness to call us on our problems, and then we use the same verse as an excuse to not call people on it. Oh, I don’t want to look like I’m judgmental. You know, God will deal with that person. I don’t want to get in the way. Well, no. You do want to get in the way. That’s the goal. You want to get in the way of a sinner continuing in their sin. You want to get in the way of a Christian, you know, bailing out on their faith and ruining their testimony. So evaluating the fruit of other disciples. All right. Each tree will be known by its fruit, and you look at a Christian next to you, across the room, some other Christian that’s at your workplace, and you just think, they’re ruining the name of my God in this workplace. They’re ruining the name of my God in this neighborhood. They’re ruining my testimony because everyone else is saying, well, if that’s a Christian, I don’t want anything to do with it. Oh, and you’re a Christian? Well, I don’t want anything to do with you either. So we want to help other disciples grow. Listen to what I Corinthians 6:2 says. It says this: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?” In chapter 6 of I Corinthians Paul was identifying a problem in the church, that Christians were suing each other in civil court. All right. So we would sue each other, we would go to the magistrate in a small claim and I would sue you. And Paul is saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Why are we all embarrassing Jesus in the public sphere? We will be kings and queens under Jesus in his reign over the earth. One day Jesus is going to return, he’s going to set up his kingdom. It’s going to be a reign of righteousness and peace and delight. The lion will lie down with the lamb, someone will die when they’re 120. They’ll be called a youngster when they die because people will have a long, healthy, problemless life. When Jesus returns it will be a glorious thing. And the scriptures say that you and I will be kings and queens, governors under Jesus. He’s the King of Kings, we’re kings of certain territories, queens of certain territories. And Paul is saying here, we are going to judge the world, we are going to be rulers of the world. Don’t we have the ability to call out and identify in this conflict, this Christian and this Christian, here’s what he did wrong and here’s what she did wrong, and improve and seek health and bring back together. Christians ought to have the ability to reconcile problems and fix and solve issues. Listen to what Paul says in Galatians chapter 6, verses 1 through 4. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch over yourself, lest you be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” And so what is Paul saying there? To every soul in this room, when we see another brother who’s done something wrong, God says, whoa, whoa, whoa; we don’t tell lies. We’re Christians. Whoa, whoa, whoa; we don’t commit murder. We’re Christians. We don’t slander people. We’re Christians. We forgive each other. We hold each other up, we pray for and support and construct. We don’t tear each other to pieces in God’s house. That’s not how Christians do it. That’s how the lost do it. We who are now found, we’re no longer lost, we are to act like we’re found. We’re to act like we’ve been found by the Master. And so when we see someone in that sin, what does Paul tell us to do? You who are what? You who are spiritual ought to restore such a man. Are you spiritual? Are you spiritual? That’s a word we don’t really use all that often. We think of like old tiny songs when we think of spiritual. Spiritual means of the Spirit. Do you have the Spirit of God living in you, is the Spirit of God in the roots of your life? Is the Spirit of God in your heart, and is he bringing good sap into these bad branches and all the bad fruit is falling off and now good fruit is appearing in its place? The work of the Spirit being accomplished in your life. If you are of the Spirit, then you’re bearing good fruit; someone that’s doing the right things, someone who’s enhancing a life of faith. And if that’s you . . . and if you’re not, whoa, whoa, whoa. You know, we ought to be, that’s the goal here. The goal is not that the pastor is the spiritual one; the goal is that every one of us are spiritual, of the Spirit of God. It says you who are spiritual, you ought to help, you ought to confront, you ought to call someone out, you ought to, what does it say, restore them; restore them. And I think this is the reason that we don’t want to call people out on their misbehavior. We don’t want to look like we’re judgmental. We don’t want to look like we’re destructive, like we’re tearing down. Paul doesn’t want you to look like that either, but what does Paul want? He wants you to lift up; he wants you to restore, he wants you to bear that person’s burdens; to be patient when they slip up. Like you’re teaching a youngster to walk for the first time, and they walk halfway and then they stumble, they fall over. What do you do? You clap for how well they did so far, you lift them up, and encourage that young child to keep walking. And eventually they do walk and you don’t need to hold their hand anymore. Our kids, our kids. There was a time when our kids would sleep in our bed all the time, all the time. And we build them up, we encourage them; it’s okay to sleep in your own bed. It’s okay. You’re not alone, God is with you. And now they’re all sleeping in their own bed. And just this weekend we had pizza and movie night. We always do pretty much every Friday. And we decided, let’s watch a movie in our bed. And all the kids were in the bed, and when the movie was done we all went to sleep. And I woke up the next morning, and I thanked God now that they all have their own beds, because now they’re bigger and there’s less room in that bed. There wasn’t room when they were young, and there’s certainly no room now, and they’re growing and they’re maturing, and I thank God for that growth. And when we see each other, right? I’m scared; I need help; I don’t want to be by myself. And you comfort and encourage and you’re with that young one as they’re growing, and eventually they can sleep in their own bed, eventually they can walk on their own, eventually they can use silverware and not just use their fingers. They grow. And young Christians, we help them grow and we’re patient and endure. And what does it say? We bear each other’s burdens, and in this way we fulfill the law of Christ. And so here’s my encouragement for you on this. There are things about me that I don’t see, there are problems in my life that I’m unaware of. There are problems in your life that you’re certainly aware of, and there’s problems that are in your life that you’re not aware of. And we all see each others’ problems and none of us ever say anything about it, and God wants us to in grace help each other. “As iron sharpens iron.” How does iron sharpen iron? They rub up against each other. And we need to decide when we rub up against each other and there’s friction there, I’m not going to let that become a festering wound, a sore spot, something in my life that I’m going to chide and hate and — I don’t want us to rub up against each other. In humility I will hear, in humility I will speak. And you need to decide in your heart in humility I’m going to hear, and you need to decide in your heart in humility I’m going to speak. And when we hear from each other and sharpen each other and when we listen and when we speak and together we’re going to see each other’s point of view? That is health, that is relational strength. It is not relationally healthy to just ignore each other’s problems. It is relationally healthy to seek the betterment of the other person. This is what God wants us to do. His name will be greatly honored as we do this, as we graciously give and as we graciously receive correction. Not to be nitpicky but to truly seek strength, to truly fulfill the law of Christ and bear one another’s burdens and help them to overcome those burdens. Will you graciously receive and will you graciously give correction? The last idea, “Evaluating the Fruit of Unbelievers.” We live in a generation where everything is immoralizing, everything is being torn down. Everything that we called good is now called bad, everything we used to call bad is now called good. The whole world is on its end, and it looks like the enemy is winning and it looks like Christianity is being pushed out to the margins. That’s what it looks like. And I know what’s in your heart because in the inner man that’s what’s in my heart. We hate that, and we want to fight against it and we crusade against it, and what do we convince the world of? We convince them of that old stereotype that Christians are judgmental. Right? How can we help identify and evaluate the fruit of an unbeliever? Well, the first thing we must do is not tear them down that they feel worthless, but that we in love say God has something good for you, God has something better than this. I feel like you’re stuck in this. God wants you to improve and get better, and he’s got a good plan for you, not — his plan is not that you’re stuck where you are. See, that’s grace, that’s humility, that’s patience, that’s tenderness. It’s not the crusading that we so often defer to: This world’s going to hell in a handbasket. That does nothing good, there is nothing good that comes from that. That is divisive, destructive, and we just want to be with us because it’s safer. Oh, that will never work. Some verses. I Corinthians chapter 9, verse 19, and we’ll run through it. “Though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” In every one of those: to this group I became like them, to that group I became like them, to the other group I became like them; what’s Paul doing in all that? Why is he accommodating, why is he connecting with people of different cultures and backgrounds? Why? What is his goal in all of it? That I might win some, that I might win some, that I might win some. And how are we living today in America as Christians as we see our culture demoralizing and just becoming worse and worse and worse, what are we doing? Oh. Oh. We become huffy; we become antagonistic; we become grumpy; we become murmuring and gossiping and just whining. And none of that helps. What helps is what Paul does and says, I’m going to go to them. I’m going to go and be where they are; I’m going to live where they live; I’m going to talk the way they talk; I’m going to embrace people, I’m going to connect with people. I’m not going to stay grumpy with all the Christians and crusade against how horrible and go on walks and go on marches and carry a sign and yell at people and . . . that’s not good at all. It doesn’t work. What works is going to people where they are, living with them. Not living like them, not acting, not bearing bad fruit the way they bear bad fruit, but coexisting and patiently loving and speaking words of grace. Why? So that we by all means might save some. See, that’s the goal. We can choose to whine about the bad fruit of non-believers, or we can choose to graciously love them, seek their best, and speak into them what we notice. Okay. God has something way better than this broken thing that you’re in. Right? It speaks of escape, it doesn’t speak of judgment. And that’s the gracious word that God wants us to speak to someone. I’ll end with Colossians 4. Listen to it, Colossians 4:5-6. “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” When I get huffy and when I crusade and when I whine and when this world’s getting worse every day, it doesn’t build people up, it doesn’t win anyone to Christ. It makes us look like we’re all a bunch of grumpy folks, and who wants to be with you when you’re grumpy? When my wife’s grumpy, sometimes . . . more so I’m the one that’s grumpy. Who wants to be with a grumpy person? And if Christians are all antagonistic whiners, I would never want to come to Christ if that’s the lifestyle that I’m going to be joining. Oh, gross. And so let us be positive, let us speak with grace, let us seek to overcome people’s obstacles and seek to point out the error but do so in a constructive way. The final decision point that perhaps you need to take home with you: “I will keep from crusading against cultural immorality, but I will share the Good News which can change a heart.” See, if I speak with grace, that could change the person’s heart. Romans 2:4 says it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Instead if I’m carrying a sandwich sign and walking down the street and saying to the world, “God hates sinners,” and I’m pointing and yelling and shouting, that doesn’t help. That pushes people away from God. I want to speak with grace which will draw people to him. And so in all of these ways, as we evaluate the fruit of one another God will be honored, his church will be strengthened, our purity will be refined, and the world will see that we have something different to offer them. Let us pray. God, we love you; we love your Word; we love its challenge. I think every one of us heard something today that we need to change in our own life. Whether it’s just that initial stance of I am going to start with myself, God; I am going to start with myself and seek to change my own brokenness. God, help me to evaluate the brokenness that’s within me, and would you by your grace point that out, give me answers for improving that, and help me to improve that part of who I am. And then whether it’s, you know, being more discerning about the kind of leaders that I listen to, the kind of rhetoric that my leaders offer, oh, God, would you break me of the leadership of — of following someone that’s mean, following someone that’s never gracious, following someone that’s legalistic; it’s about rules, not about love, not about grace. God, help me to be more discerning about the people that I listen to. God, help us all to say, I love my brother in the Lord, I care for my sister in the Lord, and I want God’s best in their life. Not to be judgmental, not to tear them down. We want our brother to be stronger, we want our sister to be more holy. God, would you use us to help each other, not to defeat, not to destroy, not to nag, not to tear down, but to really improve our brother, our sister. And then, God, in our dealings with those who do not know anything about the Lord Jesus, would you help us to be positive; not to destroy, not to defeat, not to tear down, but to invest and care for and seek the best for them, and perhaps to win them and save them by your grace. God, we pray that today these things will become true in us as we live for Christ in our generation. We pray for everyone in this room, Lord, that we would examine our own hearts; number one, to see if we’re truly in the faith. Perhaps you came this morning, friend, and you do not know the Lord Jesus as your Savior. Maybe you came saying Jesus is the Savior, Jesus died for sinners, but you never applied that to your own life. Or perhaps you thought you were a follower of Christ and are realizing, you know, I walk the walk and I talk the talk, but it’s not real in my heart. It’s real in my head but it’s not real in my heart. And if you want to decide this morning to trust Christ with your life and to have him wash your sins away, the prayer is so simple. The scriptures say believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. It’s just so simple. Jesus, I believe in your cross. Jesus, I believe that you took my sin upon yourself and died the death I deserved to die. I was guilty, you were innocent; but you became guilty and you declared me innocent. I believe it, I trust in you. I trust that what you did on the cross worked. Friend, all it takes is a simple prayer to God like that and you become God’s child, you become adopted by the Father who loves us all so very much. God, as we go our separate ways, as we sing this last closing song and as we go our separate ways help us to reflect on where we need to change and let us be more holy for the time that we spend with you this morning. We give you glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.