The Bible has impacted society and culture in ways we don’t often realize. Some of the verses covered today may be very familiar to you and contain phrases known by Christians and non-Christians alike. Jesus directs his listeners’ attention towards their treatment of others and concludes with a summation on loving God and loving others.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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? 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? 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.” Matthew 7:1-5
In his message, Jesus greatly expanded the Law and called for a deeper obedience. Both brothers had something in their eye hindering their sight. Jesus employed the use of sawdust and a plank to illustrate his point about judging others. Both obstacles were made from the same basic material. Jesus used the wood figuratively for sin. The person with the sawdust needed minor adjustments. But when viewed by the one with the plank in their eye, they needed major adjustments. The person with the plank had their sight completely obscured so their viewpoint wasn’t accurate. This person needed to remove the larger obstacle from their eye to see clearly. Jesus called for judging others with a correct lens. In our cross references this week, we learned that some judgments are proper and necessary like restoring those caught in a cycle of sin (Galatians 6:1) or turning back those have have wandered away from the faith( James 5:19,20). We, however, have a tendency to judge others with the wrong lens. We use our own self justification. We need to consider if we are quick to condemn or find fault against another without checking our own intentions. Ms. Wilkin suggested we examine ourselves and gave the following questions; Are we righteous and fair in our dealing with others? Does this judgment bring about restoration or condemnation? Do I hold others lovingly accountable to live rightly before God? Or do I find fault with everyone? Do I want what is in the best interest for that person? Do I hold myself to a high standard and give others grace?
The disciples were instructed to love and care for each other, to accept their own differences and to show mercy. They were living examples reflecting the kingdom of God to others. These men were to live their lives carefully and guardedly against self-righteousness. When the crowds heard the message, some took these words to heart and walked faithfully. Others, however, fell away because of the sacrificial commitment to live as Jesus commanded. The scribes and Pharisees were the self righteous and the hypocrites of their day. Jesus called them to account while maintaining a great compassion for them.
“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 turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6
Jesus took direct aim at the scribes and Pharisees in this verse. Dogs deny truth and pigs twist truth. Sometimes, we don’t realize we’re in a tug of war with a dog and his bone until we hold the short end. Or, we don’t realize we’re dealing with pigs until we wallow in the mud with them. Jesus knew and understood what his followers would face. In this verse, he instructed them to not waste their efforts on those who refused his message. Jesus also emphasized the importance of the use of discernment to determine those who don’t want to hear the Gospel message. We need to value the Word. Dogs and pigs don’t appreciate the sacred or the holy. Once an attempt has been made to share the message of Jesus with them and the message has been rejected, move on. The phrase, “So many books, so little time, ” can be applied with a little retooling to this teaching: So many souls to save, so little time.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7,8
By this point in the Sermon on the Mount, the disciples would’ve become overwhelmed with all Jesus had taught. These words were major challenges and corrections to all they had ever known. Ms. Wilkin shared that some of the disciples may have felt the need for hope, patience, courage, or faith. Jesus reminded them that the blessed must turn to God. We are to build a continuous and ongoing relationship with him. Our persistence in seeking Him grows our trust and faith in Him.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 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! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:9-12
Jesus often taught using elements familiar to his audience. A loaf of bread’s size during the time of Jesus compares to our modern day dinner roll. The appearance of the bread resembles the stones found along the seashore in Galilee. Perhaps Jesus motioned towards them on the ground during his delivery of these verses.
In this passage, Jesus compares and contrasts the actions of a human father towards his child with our heavenly Father’s actions towards His children. A good father doesn’t mock or cruelly tease his hungry child with things that can’t satiate the child’s hunger. A good father will do all he can to provide nourishment for his child and keep them free from harm. God, our good Father, doesn’t give only ‘good’ like a human father does, He gives greater. Because of my relationship with the Father, I have confidence to persistently ask for things in prayer knowing He will respond. Ms. Wilkin stated that Jesus takes the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) to a different level. He turned the focus from what wasn’t being done (which was reminiscent of the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees) to what was being done. Jesus focused on doing the good. Ms. Wilkin taught that we want preferential treatment not fair treatment. She ascertains that Jesus said to give others better than they deserve because that is how God treated us. How can God change the way we view others so that we treat them as we want to be treated? We ask Him to help us see them as He does and love them through Him. Loving God and loving others sums up the Law and the Prophets.
We move into our final week of lessons from the Sermon on the Mount by Jen Wilkin today. Begin Week 9. If you’d like to start at the beginning or find a specific lesson, check under the Bible Studies Archive tab. Finish well- You can do it!