These chapters finish up the Sermon on the Mount but they don’t finish challenging us with a series of comparisons and contrasts about judging rightly and wrongly, and about the real challenges of walking “the narrow way.” This sermon equips you to be useful when you see others’ faults, and to be real about building our lives in the right way.
Don’t judge. Go ahead and judge. Clear as mud, right?
People who don’t read the Bible often quote this one verse – Matt. 7:1. Don’t judge. What they mean is “You’re not supposed to disapprove of anything I do.”
Clearly, some kind of judging is wrong. What’s condemned here is an attitude that looks negatively and critically on the lives of others. Anything out of jealousy, or a lack of love, or frustration, or revenge, or even our own insecurity. What we might see may be correct, but it’s the attitude of our hearts that makes the difference.
Jesus gives a reason – that we won’t be negatively judged by the kind of judgment we throw out in someone’s direction. Remember, “Blessed are the merciful….”
How do we want to be viewed, or talked about? We don’t want people trying to guess what’s in our heart, and then judge it. We don’t want anyone to assume our motivations. We don’t want to be misread, or misunderstood. So let’s not put that on anyone else.
Matthew Henry: “What would become of us, if God should be as exact and severe in judging us, as we are in judging our brethren; if he should weigh us in the same balance?”
Yet he also said this: “Because we must not judge others, which is a great sin, it does not therefore follow that we must not reprove others, which is a great duty, and may be a means of saving a soul from death….” We are still called to reprove at times, to help others in their walk.
But first, we need to completely realign our normal, natural, everyday thinking about ourselves, and look at ourselves with much more humility. As long as we see another’s faults greater than our own, we’re not yet in a position to deal with them.
But…we are called to deal with them. We are called to remove the speck, and we can’t do that well if we have our spiritual sight blinded by our lack of realization of our own weaknesses. Would we want someone operating on us who had their sight impaired?
Then Matthew moves into a whole new focus about how precious and different His kingdom is from the rest of the world. Jesus is hitting the differences hard in the rest of these two chapters.
Matthew 7:6 – Wow! What a thing to say!
Jesus didn’t do miracles for those who didn’t believe in Him. And He didn’t keep preaching once it was rejected. But it’s a tightrope – we can’t dismiss those that have decided not to hear the gospel. We may have to serve them in other ways.
The Golden Rule. Jesus was not the first to say it, but perhaps the first to put it into the positive, which gives us wisdom as to how to act toward other people. This takes work–to put ourselves outside of ourselves and get some perspective on what we could consider the right behaviors, then compare them with what our natural behaviors would be, and then make a change.
Then Jesus does a series of comparisons to the differences between the Narrow Way and the Wide Way. The Narrow Way is the way into His Kingdom, and the path we must continue to follow. It never gets wider! To come to Christ in the first place, we have to surrender to Him.
Some of us have come into the kingdom with a real struggle, sacrificing our own goals and letting Him be our Savior. But then…well, we want to guarantee a certain kind of life here on this earth, and we’ll fit Him in. We’ll even give Him a big space, but it’s still within our boundaries.
Jesus doesn’t fit into our boundaries, perspectives, or paradigms. As we can handle it, He will reveal how we need to fit into His!
Then Jesus closes this section about the awful reality that some who call themselves believers and have trusted in their good works in the name of religion never really knew Him. Vv. 24-27
It’s sobering, and scary to read.
The question is never: Are you religious? or Do you do good works? The question is “Do you know Jesus?”