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Dec 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

December 3, 2017 – Matthew 7:1-6

It Really Is That Simple

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2

Intro: At first, it seems like Jesus jumps to an entirely different subject

In fact, he is continuing to develop his theme of superior righteousness (Mt. 5:20)
– he is still concerned with the spirit of God’s law and our inner lives
• what he moves to in this passage is another way this applies to our lives
• Jesus covered two issues in chapter 6:
hypocrisy: a potential problem we may have with God
anxiety: a potential problem we may have with “things”
– now he covers a new issue
judging: a potential problem we may have with other people

The Greek word translated “judge” is krino and has lots of meanings
– separate, evaluate, discern, condemn
• knowing how to interpret it depends a lot on the context
• in this instance Jesus says, “Don’t do this,” which indicates something that is always wrong
◦ so perhaps he is saying, “Do not condemn others”
◦ it is not our job to separate sheep from goats
◦ or decide whether a person stands or falls before God (Ro. 14:4)
– we can immediately dismiss the idea Jesus forbids making any kind of judgment
• such as the judicial system, discerning whether a person is safe or someone is telling the truth
◦ these types of judgments have the support of scripture
• if we keep in mind the whole sermon, the Lord’s concerns include:

  • Not evaluating or forming opinions of others without compassion for them
    ◦ we have been instructed to love even our enemies
    ◦ certainly we are not to identify someone’s error or wrong doing without love
  • Whatever we discover about others, we must be ready to show them mercy
    ◦ we are to be peacemakers
    ◦ the goal of confronting someone is to be reconciled to him or her (cf. Mt. 18:15)

A couple of interesting facets of this chapter’s text:

  1. We will find echoes of the beatitudes in it
    • for example: “Blessed are merciful … the pure in heart … the peacemakers”
    • what we have learned already is elaborated and reinforced
  2. We will find it is filled with metaphors
    • balance scales, a speck and a log, animals, a gate, a vine, etc.
    • metaphors add artistry to a speech
    ◦ and they assists our understanding through analogies
    ◦ but metaphors also create challenges for interpretation

1-2, The flip-side of “Blessed are the merciful . . .” (5:7)

The merciful receive mercy and the judgmental receive judgment
– it is easy to think of the Pharisees – judging others was their trademark
• they were constantly doing this to Jesus and his disciples

Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath (Mt. 12:2)
This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath (Jn. 9:16)

• but judging was not exclusive to Pharisees
(the “you” refers to Jesus’ immediate audience)
◦ anyone can assume the role of pointing out everyone’s flaws
◦ of criticizing and exposing others without love or empathy
– compassion is a rationale for not judging, but there is also a logical rationale
• we lack the necessary insight into the circumstances of others or knowledge of what’s in their hearts

… do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of hearts (1 Co. 4:5)

• by itself, criticism and condemnation do not accomplishing anything worthwhile
◦ people who condemn, are not interested in reconciliation
◦ their goal is not to save others, not to build up but to tear down

Jesus said, I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world (Jn. 12:47)

◦ he treats these as two different activities and we cannot do both at same time
– the church has a long history of the wrong practice of judgment
• it has not been useful in winning people
• it has, however, made many thousands resentful
◦ why would any Christian want to carry on that tradition?

The U.S. Dept of Commerce has a “Weights and Measures” division
– its job is to ensure accuracy of commercial measures and protect consumers
(e.g., so if you pay for sixteen ounces of soda, you get sixteen ounces)

Jesus explains, The scale you use to the weigh actions of others will be used to weigh your actions

• if no one can win your approval,
◦ your criteria may be too many and too minuscule
◦ your expectations may be unreal
• if everyone fails your inspection, you will fail God’s
– I hear Jesus asking, “Do you really want to go this route?”

“It means you have stepped outside My circle, My circumference of mercy. You make yourself ineligible for the forgiveness I bring from the Father. You have chosen for yourself law over grace and judgment over mercy, when it is supposed to be the other way around.” (Jas. 2:13)

• then we become victims of our own practice and we hang ourselves on our own gallows

3-5, You cannot say Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye Matthew 7: 3-5

This is slapstick – like a scene out of Three Stooges
– Jesus provides us a clear example of an imbalanced measurement
• the very fact that we notice specks says something about us
◦ that we think we can help others with their specks says even more
◦ but that we try to help while a log is in our eye says it all
• notice the implication that those who judge others do not “see clearly”
◦ neither the truth of their own condition nor faults of others

Julian of Norwich, “. . . when the sins of others come to mind, the soul that wants peace should flee from such thoughts as she would run from the pains of hell. . . . when we pay attention to the faults of others, a thick mist descends over the eyes of the soul, and for the time being we cannot see the beauty of the Divine.”

• Jesus makes it easy to see how our judgments are uneven
◦ like parable of two men in debt; $10,000.00 versus $10.00 (Mt. 18:24-30)
– why is it so easy to come up with solution for someone else,
• but impossible to fix the same problem with ourselves?

Not long after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter had a tense moment with the Savior: Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them . . . . So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ (Jn. 20:20-21).
We can see why some Christians spend all their time examining the beliefs, doctrines or practices of other believers. They want to avoid looking at, feeling or dealing with their own issues. As usual, Peter is a good representative of all of us who want to hide from ourselves and so turn our attention on others:
1. “turning,” perhaps feeling the heat and wanting to get out of the spotlight
2. Peter sees John, conveniently following
3. Peter shifts the focus to John
4. Peter is curious about his future, “What’s his destiny?”
• “Will you interrogate him like you have me?
• Will you ask him if he loves you?”
5. Jesus gives him a really great answer!
• your concern is not I and him, but you and Me

There is a helpful service we can provide others
– but only when:

  • we have been honest about our own issues
  • had a measure of success in resolving them
    ◦ in the same way a recovering alcoholic is frequently the best person to help another alcoholic begin recover
    ◦ we are helpful only if we go as Paul advises
    . . . if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted (Gal. 6:1)

Francois Fenelon said (something to this effect), The best thing you can do to improve the lives of others is to work on yourself

6, “The most difficult verse to understand in the Sermon” (Jonathan Pennington)

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces Matthew 7:6

This verse is difficult, both to get what Jesus meant by it and how it fits into the context

But what if Jesus is providing guidelines for the person who sees clearly?
• suppose we’re at a place where we are prepared to assist others
◦ maybe it’s not even about sin or short-comings
◦ maybe it’s about suffering grief, dealing with a teenage child, etc.
• you’ve been through the pain and healing process and are now past it
◦ you see clearly the other person’s struggles
◦ you know you can help – you have something valuable
– however, that does not mean your help will be appreciated
• there is monetary value in some of things we have to offer
◦ the value of other things we can give is their sacredness
• dogs and pigs do not have to be interpreted insults
◦ they exemplify an inability to appreciate the value of the gift given
◦ so, first test and discern if a person is ready for your help

Conclusion: I feel sad and irritated by way some Christians handle this

Bible teachers, spend more time explaining what Jesus did not mean
– others who have a way of getting around it
• they point out that some judgment is necessary
◦ besides, both Jesus and Paul called people out for wrongdoing
◦ with just a couple more steps, these believers turn this passage upside down
• and they justify doing exactly what Jesus tells us not to do
– but how can we differentiate judgment from discernment?
• or condemnation from constructive criticism?
• what has been Jesus’ concern throughout the sermon?

Our hearts and what is in them!

• what does God want to find there?

. . . if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent (Mt. 12:7)

God wants his mercy flowing into our hearts – and out again
– and he wants this more than our donations, more than our worship
• I believe he wants us to experience the joy (his joy) of showing mercy
• including–forgiving those who wrongly judge us

If we ever reach a stage where we can help someone else,
and if we must confront someone else,
we will determine whether we meet Jesus’ qualification
regarding throwing the first stone
and then reach out humbly in love, compassion, and mercy.
And then if the other listens, and if their life in God improves,
Jesus says, You have won your brother or sister (Mt. 18:15)

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