The Change Starts With Me


Text: Psalm 64


I.         I was reading the notes that come through a subscription list to which I belong. A list is a method for having a group discussion on a particular topic. It is similar to listening in on the conversation in a room, putting in your own two-cents once in a while.

            A.        As it tends to happen, the topic strayed off the area of the list’s purpose. The area it strayed into was hotly contested.

                        1.         Some people became annoyed that everyone didn’t agree with their view.

                        2.         Others became angry that the off-topic discussion was allowed to go for so long.

            B.        A few stated their desire to leave the list because it wasn’t encouraging enough.

            C.        This grabbed my notice.

                        1.         A person who is a part of the list is complaining that it wasn’t encouraging.

                        2.         That may have been true, but it was also self-condemning.

                        3.         That person was a part of the group who wasn’t encouraging!

            D.        It struck me once again how often people complain about others doing the very same thing they are doing.

II.        The Jews of Paul’s day complained heavily about the sinfulness of the Gentiles - Romans 2:1-8

            A.        Paul told them that in condemning the Gentiles they were condemning themselves.

            B.        Their judgement of the Gentiles was accurate, but they did not see that the same judgement applied to their own lives. - Romans 2:2-3

            C.        The Jews were not wrong in condemning the sins of the Gentiles. Their sin was thinking they were not a part of the problem - Romans 2:17-24.

                        1.         If stealing is wrong, then all thievery is wrong.

                        2.         If adultery is wrong, then all adultery is wrong.

            D.        Paul proved that all had sin - Romans 3:23

III.       The thing is that we are no better today.

            A.        Oh, we all acknowledge we are sinners, but so often we condemn the sins of others by condemning ourselves.

                        1.         How often have you heard someone say that a congregation is not friendly enough, that they do not show enough hospitality, that there is not enough love?

                        2.         Yet the one making the charge is suppose to be a part of the congregation.

                        3.         That means that person is not friendly, isn’t hospitable, and doesn’t show love.

            B.        This is why Jesus warned that before making judgment, we must first examine ourselves - Matthew 7:1-5

                        1.         The judgment is not wrong, but understand that if you know something is wrong, then God is just in condemning you for doing what you condemn in others.

                        2.         David illustrates this well in his anger over the story the prophet Nathan presented to him - II Samuel 12:1-9

                                    a.         David demonstrated that he understood right and wrong in this matter when he condemned the taking of a poor man’s sheep.

                                    b.         In his condemnation of another, he condemned himself.

                        3.         The Jews of Jesus’ day built memorials to the prophets of old

                                    a.         By doing so, they showed their belief that the prophets were righteous men bringing the message of God.

                                    b.         Yet, these same prophets were killed by their own ancestors. It wasn’t intended, but Jesus said they condemned their fathers as murderers of the righteous - Matthew 23:29-35

                                    c.         They demonstrated that they knew that what was done to the prophets of old was wrong.

                                    d.         Yet these people killed the prophet, John the Baptist.

                                    e.         They opposed the teachings of Jesus

                                    f.         It all showed that they were no different from their ancestors.

                                    g.         Soon they would kill the Son of God and persecute God’s people.

                                    h.         The destruction of Jerusalem was justice and they knew it.

                        4.         Recall the parable of the talents.

                                    a.         The man who only had one talent, hid his master’s money - Luke 19:20-21

                                    b.         The master said his own words condemned him - Luke 19:22-23

                                    c.         He accurately knew the requirements of his master, but he did not act in accordance to that knowledge.

IV.      The words of the fool snares them

            A.        The tongue is hard to control - James 3:2

            B.        Therefore it is not surprising that the evil will often make mistakes with their words - Proverbs 12:13; 18:7

            C.        Their own tongue is against them - Psalm 64:8

            D.        It is done by talk which is not matched by associations or actions - Psalm 50:16-21

            E.        They call on the Lord, but are not obedient - Luke 6:46-49

            F.        You know them by what they produce - Matthew 7:15-20

            G.        This is why a factious man, one who willfully separates himself from the teachings of Christ, is self-condemned - Titus 3:10-11

V.        Near the end of college, my brother Darrell and I took a trip into New England. On a Wednesday evening we visited a congregation in Bangor, Maine. It was obvious that something was wrong. People were visibly distraught. Even though we were visitors, no one shook our hands or bade us welcome. Darrell looked at me and said, “Perhaps we should do something.” I agreed. We went up to people and began introducing ourselves as if we were the locals and they were the visitors. We asked them what they did. I asked about jobs in the area and the local industry. Before long the ice was broken and people were chatting away. We found a family who were close friends of a member in our home congregation. We ended up being invited over for lemonade and had a wonderful evening.

            A.        Sure, we could have left and rightly said that the congregation wasn’t friendly.

            B.        But if we did, we would have also shown ourselves as unfriendly.

            C.        The responsibility for improvement falls on my shoulders because I recognized the problem.

            D.        To complain and do nothing is to mark myself as a fool.