sometimes escapes our notice, but the passage now known as the “Golden Rule” is
set in a particular context – being judgmental. It is instructive, therefore,
to remember that thought as we examine the remaining portion of the Sermon on
Mat 7:1-6 NIV
not judge, or you too will be judged. (2) For
in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you
use, it will be measured to you. (3)
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no
attention to the plank in your own eye? (4)
How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when
all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (5)
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see
clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (6)
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you
do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to
condemn sin or judge not?
seems at first blush that Christ is telling us here that we are never to
condemn sin, but always consider ourselves as much more guilty. In fact,
however, there are two concepts we must keep in mind as being of use in dealing
with another Christian’s sin:
The first is
church discipline. This is commanded of us, and also done by example. But in
our instructions for this, it is always to be done in love and care. We are
specifically cautioned not to do this should we ourselves be weak in the sin
concerned. In short, firm in purpose, gentle in love.
The second is
judgment, which is forbidden here. But surely we can see just what is
happening. Christ’s comparison of speck and plank tells us first that the
judgment is being made on trivial things. (Holier than thou?) He also makes
it clear that this is being done in pride, not in repentance of heart.
see just how damaging this judgment is, Christ points out that He will use our
own yardstick to measure us. Can we safely assume that you wish to be judged
by trifling things? I think not; in my own case, I’m certain of it.
I must admit the righteousness and fairness of the procedure. This is
important, as it provides motivation to stop judging. It also provides a clear
answer as to just what Christ will do with me and my judging.
it must be admitted: sometimes the judgment goes on without the slightest
thought of problem. It seems very natural at the time.
But to do so without thinking is to do so in hypocrisy. That is a very deadly
is another point to be considered. Sometimes we feel judgmental towards
someone who is not really a Christian. The temptation to rise up and
straighten out that individual (with a short list of Bible verses) is
overwhelming. We soon learn that it doesn’t work. The carnal man cannot
understand what the spiritual man is saying.
Whether just or not, judgment by another human being rarely impresses the
non-believer. That is God’s work, through the Holy Spirit. We are taught to
in such circumstances.
do we know when we’ve slipped into being judgmental? The first clue is that we
do it from our own understanding, not asking God anything. It is natural,
therefore, that our man-created words do not fulfill the purposes of God. In
fact, they are usually offensive. If we persist, it will not be long until the
word, “Hypocrite” is thrown about, and the charge be made against the church as
well as its member.
what should we do about this?
Mat 7:7-12 NIV
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the
door will be opened to you. (8) For everyone
who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be
opened. (9) "Which of you, if his son
asks for bread, will give him a stone? (10)
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? (11)
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your
children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who
ask him! (12) So in everything, do to others
what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
real shortfall in being judgmental is this: to do so, we rely on our own
understanding of things. Once stated, it becomes obvious that we should be
bringing these things to God. Why don’t we? Perhaps it is this:
things we’re being judgmental on are in fact trivial, and we “don’t want
to bother Him” about it, or
afraid He will point out just how trivial they are, and just how much
hypocrisy we are in.
process will at least sort out the important stuff. If we will bring the
matter to Him first, it saves much time and effort – and allows us to focus on
what is important to God.
does it mean
are we to do this in a trivial way. Indeed, it is instructive to examine the
original Greek words for this:
– the word can also be translated as “desire” or even “crave.” We are not
asking of idle curiosity but out of sincere love for our brothers.
– the word is otherwise translated as “worship” – as in, “to seek God’s
– means knock.
even in the way in which we are to seek God’s will, we are to be in earnest and
I point it out? The Golden Rule is a conclusion of the chapter so far!
Its first use is in dealing with the judgments of man. If you don’t like
having others treat you judgmentally (and who does?) then be fair: don’t be
judgmental towards them.
we should follow God’s example of forgiveness and generosity. He will equip us
at all points required if we will simply rely on Him instead of our own
understanding. Follow Him – and follow persistently.
Mat 7:13-29 NIV
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road
that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. (14)
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but
inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (16) By
their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or
figs from thistles? (17) Likewise every good
tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (18) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot
bear good fruit. (19) Every tree that does
not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (20) Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (21) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord,
Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my
Father who is in heaven. (22) Many will say
to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your
name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' (23)
Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into
practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (25) The rain came down, the streams rose, and the
winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its
foundation on the rock. (26) But everyone who
hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish
man who built his house on sand. (27) The
rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that
house, and it fell with a great crash." (28)
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his
teaching, (29) because he taught as one who
had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
is an unfortunate characteristic of human beings: wishful thinking. How often
have you heard someone say that God will let them into heaven because the good they
have done, or because God isn’t judgmental, you know? Our society has
succumbed to the idea that all religions are equally true (hence, of course,
equally false), so it doesn’t matter what you believe (or even what you do),
God will let you into heaven.
here tells us that this idea is false. For though the way of life is open to
all, it is a very strict one. The idea that Christ is “the way, the truth, the
life” seems, somehow, unfair. But life is like that too; most things have only
one road of truth. The path is easy to find – and easy to be distracted from.
must, therefore, pay some attention to the distractions along the way. Keeping
with the theme of being judgmental, Christ points out one group that can be
very judgmental: the false prophet.
a pretty clear point. The false prophet has to have somebody to be “against”.
Otherwise, he’d be expected to preach the Gospel as found. It’s much easier to
preach against. But this very attitude tells you who is the false prophet:
the one whose words and actions strive against the harmony and love of the
church. Their words sound pious, but they create strife everywhere they go.
And that’s how we are to recognize (and avoid) them.
in this comes because we look at the entire effect of a given leader. He might
not be eloquent as a pastor, but he works hard and brings people together, for
example. We look at the false prophet with a tendency to excuse him because he
is so good at:
Lord.” He may be an eloquent man, and be fond of public prayer which
seems to exalt the Lord.
He may pose as one to whom God has given some special revelation.
and miracles. He may appear to perform miraculous healings, and drive out
we might think, such a man must be sincere. Think again; do any of these
things sound familiar?
comes to this. There are two ways before us. One is hard, narrow and long.
It requires sacrifice, devotion and obedience. The other is wide open and easy
to stay on. It’s just that it leads you to hell. The narrow way is not hard
to find, and it is open to “whosoever will.” The problem is not with our road
map; the problem is with our desire to choose the pleasant way over the right