Earlier today, I taught on Jesus’ teaching on not being able to serve two masters. It was a challenging study as God examined our motives and we took a close look at our own attitudes toward possessions, worry, and judging others. For the rest of this week and the first half of next week, we are going to do a chapter study on Matthew 7, in the context of the Sermon on the Mount. I would like to focus on three important aspects of this chapter; the commands given by Christ, the contrasts, and the comparisons.
There are 5 major commands that Jesus gives in this chapter and I would like to examine them.
- Do not judge people incorrectly. How do you judge (confront) someone correctly? The next three commands that Jesus gives help explain what He has in mind.
- Take the log out of your own eye before trying to help someone else. Examine yourself before you try to help others. Confront sin with the purpose of helping the person and not destroying them.
- Do not give what is holy to dogs. If you try to help someone who does not want help or gets hostile, be wise and seek out people in whom you can invest, the people who are interested in receiving the Word of God.
- Do not throw your pearls before swine. In other words, do not keep kicking a dead horse. If the person has shown consistent animosity toward God and His Word, do not continue to invest in a person who will not receive instruction. That person is a fool and you will be considered like them if you keep on trying to win them over.
- Be persistent. Show your desire to know the Lord and hear from Him. Do not give up easily if your prayers are not answered right away or if you do not hear from the Lord right away when it comes to spiritual matters. Persist in knowing God’s will and asking itto be accomplished in your life.
- Treat people the way you want to be treated. In fact, Jesus says that this is the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) lived out. When you walk with God and know Him personally, you begin to see the people around you the same way that He does. You begin to love them the same way that Jesus loves you. You want to invest in them and treat them the way that God has invested in you and treats you.
- Enter through the narrow gate. The path that leads to abundant life in the Lord is not a path that we stumble upon. We have to make a conscious choice to enter the narrow gate. Being born into a Christian home is not the same as entering the narrow gate. Even if I were born in a Christian home, I still must choose the narrow path for myself.
- Beware of the false prophets. Realize that not everyone who talks about God is a man or woman of God. Not everyone has your best interest in mind when it comes to investing in your spiritual life. There are those who are false, even though they teach, their teaching is not of God. Ignorance is not an excuse. You must know that false prophets exists and beware of them.
The contrasts show us the differences between those who live by the righteousness of God and the righteousness of man.
- Speck vs. Log – a person who lives by the righteousness of man sees the speck in your eye but misses the log in his own eye. He does not confront to help, he does it to tear you down.
- Narrow gate and narrow way vs. wide gate and broad way. There are only two gates, or ways of life in this world. If you are not on one, then you are automatically on the other. Indifference does not negate reality. If you do not choose the narrow gate, you will end up going through the broad gate and on the broad way. A person who lives by the righteousness of man will choose the broad path. Many will be the ones who end up on the broad path and very few will actually choose the narrow gate and live on the narrow way.
- Wolves in sheep’s clothing – This is where things can get very dangerous. Many of the people on the broad path do not realize that they are living according to their own righteousness instead of the righteousness of God. They will teach others to live like they live and lead them to the broad path. Outwardly, they look like they are on the right path yet inwardly, they are completely wrong. Then, there are those who know that they are wrong and do not care. They have other motives to mislead people.
- Good tree and good fruit vs. bad tree and bad fruit – There is tangible evidence to show if you are on the right path or not. You do not have to guess. Jesus says that if you are on the right path then you are a good tree and will produce good fruit. If you are on the wrong path, whether you know it or not, you are a bad tree and will produce bad fruit.
- Calling Jesus Lord vs. doing the will of the Farther – Again, those who are on the wrong path and do not even know it, are some of the same ones who call Jesus “Lord” yet they do not do God’s will. The fruit that they produce is not God’s will. The one who are on the right path are the ones who call Jesus Lord and do the will of God. That is the good fruit that they produce.
Finally, the comparisons help us understand what happens to us if we hear and apply God’s Word vs. those who simply hear and do nothing with it.
- Hear and apply = wise man = house built on the rock – The will of the Father is that you hear the Words of Jesus Christ, understand Them, and apply Them to your life on a daily basis. When times get tough, he is able to stand and endure because of Christ. Is this the way that you live your life day by day? If not, then there is another kind of person you are compared to. In each of these examples, there is only one of two choices.
- Hear and not apply = foolish man = house built on the sand – This person also hears the Words of Christ yet, for whatever reason, he chooses not to apply what he has heard and his life shows it. It falls apart when things get tough.
According to all that we have seen here, where do you stand? Are you on the right path? Do you hear the Words of Christ and apply Them? Are you influenced by false prophets? What kind of fruit do you produce, the will of God or something else? How do you treat the people around you? When you confront sin, how and why do you do it? Do you do it for the good of the person or to tear them down? Or, do you just avoid confrontation altogether? I pray that we will all examine our motives and our lives to make sure that we are on the right path so that we can help others join us on the right path.