Small Group Questions

Faith That Works When The Pressure’s On: A Faith that keeps me from being judgmental.  

Introduction:

If you’re serious about becoming like Jesus, then your life mission must be the same as His. Jesus didn’t save you to be a judge of other people but to lead them to God’s mercy. In this message, we look at the book of James for several ways you can be less judgmental.

Something To Talk About: 

When we’re under long-term stress, it often brings out the worst in us. We can become irritable, touchy, rude, demanding, and judgmental of others. In this message, we offer four reminders to help us be less judgmental:

  1. Remember I never know anyone’s motivation: It is difficult to gauge anyone’s motivation. We don’t know our own motivation much of the time. We don’t know why we do what we do so much of the time, what makes us think that we can judge the motivation of others? 1 Corinthians 2:11 is another reason we shouldn’t judge, it says this: “No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit…” So I should not judge because there’s no way I can know your motivation, there’s no way you can know mine. No one really knows what somebody else is thinking or what they’re really like except that person themself. God knows your motivation, but nobody else does. So remember, you don’t know all the facts and you don’t know all the motives, so don’t judge.
  2. Remember I have blindspots I can’t see: We all have blind spots that we can’t see. So the second reason to not be judgmental, to not be so quick to judge is to remember we have blind spots we can’t see. Jesus talked about this in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7, which is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, verses 3 to 5 Jesus says this: “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” That’s your blind spot. Remove the log in your own eye so then you can see clearly to help others.  Whatever you tend to struggle with yourself, fear, anger, worry, you tend to notice it in others quicker. If we would do self-judgment of our own weaknesses, and our own faults, and our own failures, God says, “I wouldn’t have to judge you.” That ought to change the way you think about your own blind spots.
  3. Remember I will be judged by the standard I use: Jesus said this very clearly in Matthew 7:1-2: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” The way you judge others is the way you’re going to be judged. By the standard, by the measurement I use to measure others, that’s the one that’s going to be used in me. There is partiality in our justice system for race, for economics, and a lot of other things, but God always judges truthfully and impartially. This is why God is the only one who has the right to judge us because he’s always completely true and he’s always completely impartial.
  4. Remember how God has shown me grace: If we got what we deserved, we wouldn’t be here to judge. God has shown me and shown you grace and mercy. Ephesians 2:8 (AMP) says, “For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God.” In Psalm 103, there’s a laundry list of just some of the things God does in our lives by grace. The psalmist says, “may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things…The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins;” Is that grace? It certainly is and a strong reason why we should not judge others.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does James 4:11-12 say about playing God in the lives of others?
  2. What does it mean to judge others?
  3. James 1:19 (CSV) says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” Why is it so important to remember to listen first and be slow to judge according to James 1:19? Why is it better to leave judgment including final judgment to God?
  4. So what kind of attitude should we have about judging?
  5. What examples have you seen of the human tendency to excuse our own sins while accusing others of sin in order to make ourselves look better?
  6. How can I  learn to be less judgmental?  
  7. Discuss situations where you find it easy to judge and think about what motivates you to do this. Is it fear, anger, frustration, or something else? Talk about how you can refocus on God and stop the pattern of judging.
  8. What do the speck and the plank represent?
  9. God’s mercies are new every morning. Ephesians 2:8 above reminds us of God’s grace and the promise we have through faith in Christ of deliverance from judgment. Memorize this verse together. How does remembering God’s gracious gift of salvation help us make this our first thought when we’re tempted to “play God” and judge others?
  10. What did you hear? What point in this message was most impactful for you? What do you think? How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking? What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?

Take one thing home with you:

I heard a sermon on “judgment out, judgment in.” In other words, the judgments we make toward others are the same judgments we have toward ourselves. If we look at the way we see others, we can know how we actually view ourselves. It is as if, when we are judging others, we are looking into a mirror, seeing only ourselves. Because we look in the mirror and find ourselves unworthy, unlovable, and undeserving, we project those beliefs onto others, and judgment is the result. Jesus expressed a similar sentiment: “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:2)