GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 29)
We now have the Lord’s Prayer, in how to pray, how to follow the path of Jesus and invest in ways that count for eternity. Jesus now transitions from prayer to warnings about the Master Money, wealth and rewards, and the sequel of judgment and hypocrisy that comes from looking at others rather than ourselves.
“Do 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 turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:1-6.
1. Judging Others Is Necessary with Discernment. Some would mistake these words for a prohibition against judgment of any kind, any way, in relation to others. Of course, Jesus is not saying that. Everything in this context challenges the true believer to critically judge the phony religious leaders around them. Even here the disciple is cautioned about those around them that are “dogs and pigs.” The message is to judge with true standards.
2. The Standards for Judging Others. There are two standards for Judging Others:
- Measuring others by the standard we need for ourselves. The standard you use to judge others will be the standard used to judge us. If no mercy to others, we also receive no mercy. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matt. 5:7.
- Honest assessments without hypocrisy. The old saying, if pointing to another, is to pay attention to the fingers pointing back at me. Sober assessment of our lives is critical, and self deception is our first knee jerk reaction to our own lives. James recommends that followers of Jesus (1) bring spiritual and physical health concerns to church leaders, (2) prayers of the congregation can restore the struggling saint, and (3) the brotherhood has a sanctified mission to work at “bringing back” one who has wandered from the truth. James 5: 13-20. Do you see this? The Christian life is not a solo flight where we only read our own press clippings. We need others to help us honestly look at our own faults rather than the faults of others. Cleaning up our life is the necessary prerequisite to helping others, and then helping others is the mission of the church.
All of this is under the banner of looking to ourselves before judging others. Maybe this is best said in Galatians, a book written and circulated about 15 years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. Galatians 6;1-5.
It is honorable to live a life of discernment and proper judgment. It starts with careful and regular self-assessment, accountability with others who help you guard any self deception, and then, reaching other to others, carrying responsibility for yourself and for others. That is the true standard for conduct in the church.
Next week, asking and receiving from God – the promise and the purpose. Blessings on you this week.
— John Moore