Study Guide: The Worst of Sinners

Sunday June 2, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In this dog eat dog world, we’re programmed to judge others. But to love others with unsurpassable worth, we must ascribe worth to them at cost to ourselves. In this sermon, Greg talks about how to put on love and take off judgment.

Extended Summary:

God calls us to love others by ascribing worth to them based on the cross. This is the number one job description of Christians. Above all, we are to put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. This is because cross-like love is a reflection of the Trinity’s love for one another, and we are to mimic that life. To be one with each other as Jesus and God are one.

We have trouble ascribing unsurpassable worth to people because we are conditioned to love on the basis of the worth we find in people. This is judgment. And it’s easy to do. We usually love people based on how they treat us. If they are friendly, helpful, or loving towards us then we treat them in kind. But if they are mean, cynical or hateful towards us, then it becomes very easy to not be loving towards them. And, even if we don’t interact with them, we often put our filters of judgment onto others. Greg talks about people watching at the mall, and even though he didn’t interact with those people, he was getting life by judging them.

If we are to love above all, then we must put off all judgment. Judgment looks like a sin scale. We rate people’s sins, or their supposed sins, based upon our own understanding of which sins are worse than others. When we rate people’s sins, we invariably make our own sins not as bad. We tend to see our own sins through rose-colored glasses. This gives us life, because we see others as worse than ourselves. It started in the garden with Adam and Eve, and it continues to this day.

In this world, we play the accusers accusation game. We ascribe worth to ourselves and others based on our own judgments. This is how the world operates. We accuse others to make ourselves feel more alive. This is how Satan operates and this world is filled with judgment because of it. We simply play along. But God has given us a way of playing a different game.

We can choose to play God’s game of unconditional love instead of Satan’s game of judgment and accusation. Satan’s game is all about making ourselves feel better about ourselves at the cost of others. God’s game is about ascribing worth to others at cost to ourselves. We play God’s game because this is how God treated us on the cross at Calvary. It’s not just an arbitrary code of law, but a way of life that mimics perfect love. When we choose to play God’s game, we’ll receive nothing but love, mercy and forgiveness. But if we play the accusers game, judgments will come back to us.

Cross-like love binds us together with others where judgment separates us from others. This is the reason that we put on love. We are to be bound together as God is bound together. We were never made to judge one another. In this dog eat dog world, we’ve been programmed to separate others and judge them accordingly. And this is the opposite of Kingdom love. This is why Paul commands to, above all, put on love because it binds everyone together.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Think about the places you typical spend your days (car, work, home, school, the gym, shopping, etc). Is there one of these places you tend to judge others more often or regularly?
  2. Most Christians create some form of sin scale that they use to judge others. Take an honest inventory of your inner dialogue. What does your sin scale look like? What sins do you judge as worse than others?
  3. What are some concrete ways that you can begin to change those judgments into blessings?
  4. With the invention of reality television, judgment has gone mainstream. What are some other ways that our society promotes judgment on others?
  5. Is there someone that is on your heart to love instead of judge? What would it look like for you to change your judgmental ways towards this person?