Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Controversy Galore! - Matthew 7:1-11

So Judgy

1 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

3 "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?

4 "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?

5 "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."

This passage is quoted so often, even people who've never stepped foot in church in their life can quote it.  Indeed, it's a very important teaching: simply, don't judge others because we've all got faults.  Jesus certainly drove this message home to the crowds in John 8:1-11.

However, it is often misapplied.  Some people think that anytime you ever say anything bad about anyone, you're judging them.  This is certainly the case probably more than we like to admit, but one enormous contradiction to this view is present in Scripture: that of helping another believer by drawing them out of sin.

" Brethren, even 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."
- Galatians 6:1

Here it is clear that if another believer (note that - another believer) is in sin (and that means unaware of the sin or actively living in the sin, not just struggling with it - see our entire study on Galatians 6:1 here for more on that and this entire topic), and you are right before God at the time, the correct thing to do is to lovingly point it out to them so they too can get right with God.

However, there's a certain protocol (again, see the Gal 6:1 post for more on this topic) to be followed in doing so, as we see in Matthew 18:15-17.  This isn't some free-for-all involving gossipping behind the persons' back.

But with all that said, the point still remains: we as believers are not to judge people.  That does not point anyone to God's love and forgiveness.

Easier said than done, yes. :-)

Pearls Before Swine

6 "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."

Now this is a verse with the potential to offend!  But, Romans 9:33 states that the Truth is offensive, so there you go. :-)

Understandably, there are many different views on this verse's meaning.  What I see is this: Don't waste your precious energy on people who won't appreciate it, so it won't do any good - you have limited time, so make it count!

How does this apply specifically in the context of the passage?  (1) Don't bother trying to reprove the "believers" who are willingly living in conscious sin - they already know what they're doing is wrong and don't care; (2) Don't try to reprove unbelievers - you need to bring them to Christ, not whitewash their behavior.  Fixing thier morals without them getting saved won't solve a thing; (3) Be aware that the hypocrites just referred to in the verse before will attack you and fight your ministry - when you try to bring people to repentance, they will push back.

Let's expand this concept by looking at Mark 6:11: "Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them."  Is this judging them?  No, it's leaving the judging to God.  Is it acting hatefully?  No, because your motivation is to stop wasting time pointlessly so you can move on to other people who need to hear about God and will be more receptive - and that is an act of love.  In this, whatever we feel God's purpose for us is, He intends us to be efficient.  (However, this does not mean to give up on people after one try or focus on quantity of quality...there's a balance.)

God is Not a Genie...You Don't Get Three Wishes

7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

9 "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?

10 "Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?

11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"

People misapply this, too...sorry to be a kill-joy. :-)

This is not some blanket promise that God will give you every little thing you ever ask for (if you've known God for more than three seconds, you realized that long ago).  But He is in the business of bringing about what is best for you (see Romans 8:28).

We can always trust that God is doing what is best for us, even if it's not what we asked for - He knows better than us! :-)

What I think these verses are getting at is that if we seek God Himself, He will totally grant that request!  And, ultimately, God is the fulfillment of every yearning of our hearts.  So, let's seek Him today - let's ask Him to reveal Himself to us all the more and grant us more of His character!

See our study on James 1:5-11 for more on this topic.

Let's Make It a Discussion

Have other Christians judged you before, and how did this impact your view of the church?  How can we seek God today?  Anything else you'd like to ask, add, or comment on?

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