Judge, Ask, and Do Righteously
Good Morning Calvary Chapel Lake City! Please open your Bibles to Matt 7. We start a new chapter today, but we are continuing in the Sermon on the Mount…likely finishing this sermon next week and then moving on to various narratives in Jesus’ ministry.
Last week, we looked at Jesus’ teaching on Wealth and Worry, and how essential it is to focus one’s eyes on the eternal, not on the world. Jesus promised that as we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things [the things we need for life- food and clothing] shall be provided for us.
Our teaching today, Matt 7:1-12, will concludes the body of Jesus’ sermon, and the key topic of His sermon was the true intent of the Law. Back in Matt 5:17, Jesus proclaimed, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.” As we come to Matt 7:12 , Jesus will say “…this is the Law and the Prophets.” And, this forms what is called, in biblical literature, an ‘inclusio’ or ‘envelope’ which I’ll explain as we come to verse 12.
But, starting in Matt 7:1, Jesus teaches about judging. Jesus was always so in tune to the people around Him. Very likely He knew this next topic (on judging ) was of importance, given the what He just taught on- ‘wealth and worry.’ The person who is covets wealth…the person who worries is also prone to judge. So, Jesus feeds His sheep.
Today’s message is entitled “Judge, Ask, and Do Righteously.”
Matt 7:1-2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
This is a verse very popular with unbelievers today to promote ‘diversity and inclusion.’ “Don’t be judgy!” They use this verse to criticize Christians who they believe are hypocritical and judgmental. And, in some cases they are right.
But, they misunderstand the verse in light of the bible as a whole, as the Word of God declares we ARE to judge, not hypocritically, not unrighteously, but righteously.
And, by citing this verse, they are in effect judging believers to be hypocrites. Thus, they in turn are judging, which is hypocritical to their condemnation of judging. They say, “Don’t judge me, but then they judge believers.” There is a flaw in this logic.
It is not spiritual when they cite this verse, but merely a tactic to try to win an argument. The Bible has drawn a line in the sand as to what is -and- what is not acceptable in God’s eyes. The Bible is the ultimate authority over what is right and wrong. And, many people are against the Bible because they want to move that line in the sand to justify their sin.
John 3:19-20 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”
People unconditionally and self-sacrificially love (agapaō) their sin.
The problem with moving the standard of God’s word towards inclusion is then man determines what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
Man seeks to move the line in the sand, and this is dangerous.
For example, most people today would agree that pedophilia is wrong. Even people that champion inclusion. But, man keeps pushing the line of acceptability. In fact, there are a number of Pedophile Advocacy Groups internationally who seek to decrease the age of consent, to legalize child pornography, and to change pedophilia to a legitimate sexual orientation.
Good people- there must be a line in the sand, and God gave us His standard millennia ago. It’s a slippery slope to allow man to have that power.
So, what does Jesus mean when He commands, “Judge not”?
“Judge” in Gk. krinō, kree´-no; means “to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially).” It’s the idea of coming to a conclusion about a person or topic and passing judgment.
Jesus is not talking about judicial or legal judgments in this context, but judgement we cast upon one another- moral judgments, discernment you might say.
When Jesus says, “Judge not,” this means do not put yourself in the place of the judge. Do not put yourself in the place of God. Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.” Only God has the authority to condemn.
On the flip side, “Judge not” is not a broad statement calling Christians to abandon distinguishing right and wrong...simply accepting every behavior.
Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness...” Isa 5:20. We are to discern good and evil, light and darkness. Woe to that person who twists the truth.
If Jesus was coming against judgment altogether, He would be contradicting Himself in just a few verses when He says in Matt 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine.” One must make a judgment to determine who are ‘dogs’ and ‘swine’- this takes discernment.
Jesus would be contradicting himself in Matt 7:15 when He said, “Beware of false prophets…”
How do you know a false prophet unless you judge the behaviors and the teachings of that person to be false?
Jesus would have contradicted Himself when He called Herod a ‘fox’ and the Pharisees a ‘brood of vipers.’
So, “Judge not” cannot be understood as a broad statement NEVER to cast judgment.
There are several places in scripture where we are told TO judge:
Paul in 1 Cor 5 instructs believers to judge other believers, and to let God judge unbelievers. 1 Cor 5:11-13 “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
This verse not only authorizes judging, but mandates it. There are times we are to judge sin…to speak out against it. But, the context in 1 Cor 5 is when we are amongst friends...within the church…with other believers because we should hold one another to a higher standard.
Our culture may place a negative connotation on judging, but when done in love, not hypocritically, not unrighteously…judging is a very good thing.
There are other times when we need to be cautious with judgment. In John 7, The Jews judged Jesus based on outside appearance. They questioned how Jesus “knew letters” since He did not study at a religious school. They criticized Jesus for healing on Sabbath (a work), yet they would circumcise (also a work) on the 8th day…even if it fell on a Sabbath. Jesus said to them, John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
The Jews didn’t understand the amount of time Jesus spent in prayer with the Father and in His word (nor did they understand His divine nature). And, they didn’t have the right to judge because of their hypocrisy and hatred. So often we too are guilty of unrighteous judgments. Passing a judgment without having the whole picture, or judging hypocritically when we also have a glaring issue in our life- a plank in our own eye.
How many times do we judge a person driving fast as reckless? Maybe they are reckless, but maybe there is an emergency. Or, we look at someone’s appearance or Facebook posts…and make a character judgment. We judge without knowing the whole story.
You’ve surely heard the saying “Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.” Get a full and accurate perspective on the other person’s life prior to passing judgment. Not a bad thought…there is wisdom in this saying.
But, I really like the advice of Jack Handy… “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you do criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes!” Solid advice! Thank you comedian Jack Handy.
The Bible doesn’t forbid us judging, but instructs us to judge righteously. Know the whole picture before your judge, and make sure your life is in order before you are casting judgement on others.
One last thing on judging, have you ever noticed how easy, how natural it is to cast judgment- even harsh judgement, but then when we are judged, we get all sensitive- ‘it’s not fair’? We need to remember our feelings when we measure out judgment.
Jesus said, (verse 2) “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
This principal of reaping and sowing is in light here. How exactly the judgment is repaid, I cannot say for certain.
Is this judgment returned on the natural level? As you judge a peer, they reciprocate judgment. Possibly, this happens all the time. Is this a supernatural judgment, not in a salvation sense, but in a Bema Seat rewards sense? Or, perhaps does God judge us in this lifetime for a harsh judgment we passed?
It’s very difficult to say exactly how this judgment plays out, but certainly Jesus gives a warning against unrighteous and hypocritical judgments.
Jesus also warns about the measure -or- standard we use when judging.
Are we harsh in our judgments? Or, do we extend mercy? Better yet- grace! What’s our measure? I know what we want when we are being judged…we want mercy. We want grace. We don’t want judgment.
In Luke 6, after Jesus instructed “Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned...” He gave these positive statements on measuring out judgment… “Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37-38
As you sow a generous helping of mercy, grace, and forgiveness to another; you will receive the same back-
A good measure (not a skimpy measurement);
Pressed down (like tamping the beans for espresso…all the air is removed…compacted so you can receive more);
Shaken together (like flour in a container. You shake it to make as much space as possible);
Running over (overflowing),
And it will be put into your bosom (“will be put” is in the third person plural, as in “they will pour.” ‘They’ being God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They will return to you blessing for your blessing).
Jesus continues in Matt 7:3-5 with a humorous hyperbolic image of some guy with timber in his eye.
Matt 7:3-5 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Kind of a humorous picture. Definitely hyperbole.
Guy with a log sticking out of his eye, goes up to his Christian brother and says, “HEY! You have a twig in your eye. Let me help you with that issue in your life.”
Really? This is judging hypocritically.
Here’s what’s common between these two guys. Both have the same issue- wood in their eyes.
I don’t know if your have ever taken a good shot to the eye, but that’s one sensitive body part. I’m remember one time clearing shooting lanes in the woods for hunting, and I was pulling this vine out of a tree. And, I’m pulling and pulling and it gives. That thing came down with force and whipped me right in the eye. I about fell over. Definitely a Dr. visit, scratched cornea, medicine and pain for a solid week.
And, we’ve all had a time when something was in our eye. Even an eyelash or a small piece of dirt in the eye, and everything in life stops until it’s dealt with.
Both of these guys, in Jesus’ illustration, had an issue that needed to be dealt with- one minor (a speck) and one glaring (a plank). Now, what’s hypocritical, is for the guy with major issue in his life (a plank) to tell the guy with a minor issue in his life (a speck) that he wants to help deal with his friend’s issue.
How are you going to help someone else when you yourself cannot see straight? You lose perspective when there is an issue in your life, so it must be dealt with first. Help the guy in the mirror first before, judging and trying to help others.
Important to note, this illustration does not forbid judging. No where does it say, “Don’t judge.” Actually, it’s just the opposite. It instructs judging.
Step one: “First remove the plank from your own eye” (verse 5). Deal with your own stuff so you can see clearly, so your perspective is right and so you are not hypocritically judging.
Step two: then “…remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Judge your brother. Tell them about the issue in their life. If your friend has an issue that needs to be dealt with, it’s loving to tell them. Pro 27:6 states “Faithful are the wounds of a friend...”
When you follow these steps…when you’re not living in hypocrisy…then you will be able to “see clearly” as Jesus put it. “See clearly” Gk. diablĕpō (def. to look through). Now, you can discern or judge righteously.
Jesus continues with another illustration.
Matt 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Dogs and swine in the Mosaic Law, and 1st century Israel, were unclean animals- wild and viscous scavengers. In Judaism, dogs were associated with unbelievers and evil people. Now, in 21st century United States, our perception of dogs and pigs is quite different. But the dog in this teaching is not your cute puppy. And the pig was not a pot belly pig, or some 4H trophy animal.
In the Philippines today, there are street dogs called “Askal,” and they are despised. They are mean, dirty, flea ridden, and many have mange. I remember when we bought an SUV, a man at my Bible College told me, “When you see an Askal, you should hit it with your car. I thought the idea cruel, but he explained, “When we drive our motorcycles, they jump in front of us and cause accidents.” I never did hit an Askal with my car…in fact my wife attempted to adopt one! That went real well with my landlord! A story for another time!
So, Jesus is saying, if you have something valuable- holy or a pearl...you would waste it by giving it to these despised wild dog and pigs. They will not only trample on it (treat it with disrespect), but they will turn and tear you in pieces (they will attack you).
When I read the context of this passage, and reflect on Jesus’ message in this sermon of loving enemies and loving your neighbor and seeing clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye…it seems like the “holy” thing…the “pearl” Jesus is speaking about here is love. A loving and truthful judgment. Speaking truth in love. Loving someone enough to be truthful with them. I really think this is what Jesus is driving at here, but it’s tricky because Jesus does not define what is “holy” or what is a “pearl.”
The most eternally valuable thing a Christian has to offer…the greatest truth in life...something truly “holy” and a “pearl,” is the Gospel message. The message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It has the power to cleanse...to save...to bring a person into relationship with God.
But, many unbelievers today do not want this Good News. They will treat it with contempt (trampling it under their feet), and they will turn on the messenger (verbally or physically tearing them into pieces). In the USA, most likely a verbal lashing, but persecution by beatings, imprisonments, and even death is prevalent around the world today for Christians.
Believers should be discerning with whom and when they speak truth in love, or when they share the Gospel. It takes spiritual discernment…how is the Holy Spirit leading you? In some cultures, you could literally be torn in pieces if you shared the Gospel with the wrong person. But, in our culture, we have little to risk in generously sharing our faith...if not received, then move on.
When Jesus sent the Twelve to “preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick,” He told them “And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them.” Mark 6:11
A little church history tied to this verse before we move on. There is an early writing (1st, 2nd, or 3rd century) called, “The Didache.” Some call it the “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.” It was the first service order book of the Christian church.
Didache 9:5 states “But let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist with you except for those baptized in the name of the Lord, for it was in reference to this that the Lord said: ‘Do not give that which is holy to dogs.’”
Now, I am not sure how you would come to that conclusion. It’s out of context to apply that which is ‘holy,’ in Matt 7:6 to Eucharist…another word for ‘Communion.’ I, and many scholars, do not agree with this interpretation, but it’s good for you to be aware, because it’s a teaching out there.
For ex., the Catholic Church uses traditional teachings, like the Didache, to forbid non-Catholics from partaking in communion. One Catholic website states, “...it is normally impossible for non-Catholic Christians to receive Holy Communion, for to do so would be to proclaim a unity to exist that, regrettably, does not.” This is sad, and their reasoning is a blend of tradition, their teaching office, and the bible.
I don’t want man’s traditions…just give me the word of God. That’s my authority.
Paul taught the believer should not take communion in an “unworthy manner,” (1 Cor 11:27); that believers should first examine themselves. There should be a time to search the soul…a time of self-introspection and silent confession prior to partaking in communion. Never that a believer had to be part of a certain denomination, because there were no denominations in the early church. In Jesus’ eyes, Believers are one body of Christ…one bride of Christ.
All the rules and regulations of ‘high church’ Christianity, to a degree, parallel the burdens Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for. As Pastor Chuck would say, “They want to lay a trip on you!”
Next, in Matt 7:7-8, Jesus speaks about prayer, which makes complete sense in light of the context of judging. Without prayer, how on earth is a believer able to judge righteously, to spiritual discern? We must first go to the Lord in prayer.
Matt 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Earlier in the sermon (Chap. 6), Jesus gave the Model Prayer, teaching the disciples ‘how to’ pray. Now He teaches on prayer again, emphasizing the importance of being consistent and persistent in prayer.
And, when it comes to judging righteously, it’s important to pray…specifically for wisdom.
In 1 Kings 3; 2 Chr 1, when Solomon first assumed the throne of his father David, he was young (somewhere around 20 years of age), and now in charge of the major ruling empire of the world at that time. The Lord appeared to him in a dream and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Now Solomon could have asked for anything (riches, a long life, or the death of his enemies), but he recognized his own insufficiency as a young leader and said, 1 Kings 3:9-10 “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 10 The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.”
It pleased the Lord that Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom on how to discern good and evil…how to judge Israel. If discernment and judging were bad things, the Lord would not have been pleased with Solomon, but discernment and judging are good…if done in wisdom…if done righteously.
God granted Solomon’s request for wisdom, and as a bonus blessing gave him things he did not ask for- riches and honor; and God even extended a conditional offer of long life IF Solomon walked in God’s ways and kept God’s statutes and commandments. Solomon died around age 60, so I’ll let you decide if he received that last blessing. Certainly he fell into idolatry in his rule, so I would argue not.
We may not judge judicially like Solomon did, but it’s important for us to discern…to recognize wolves, dogs, pigs, false teachers, those who would cause division, and those who are the true sheep. And, it’s pleasing to the Lord when you come and ask for wisdom.
James said, James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Earlier this week, Amanda and I met with a Pastor and his Elders to update them about the church plant and they asked us, “How can we pray for you? And, what do you need?” I asked a prayer for wisdom, because I need that! They prayed for wisdom (and time will tell if the Lord answered that prayer), and they also blessed the church financially. Praise God!
So, Ask, Seek, and Knock...
The grammar of “Ask, Seek, and Knock” (present, active, imperatives) indicates these are commands to Ask and keep asking, Seek and keep seeking, Knock and keep knocking. The big idea of “Ask, Seek, and Knock” is to be consistent and persistent in your prayer.
And, the intensity increases. Ask…Seek…Knock. There is a progression from asking (a verbal request), to seeking (deliberately searching), to knocking (physically striking).
And, as you Ask, Seek, and Knock, God promises “it will be given to you…you will find…it will be opened to you.”
Now this is not like a genie in a bottle; or an open ticket to get whatever you want. God is not saying that He is going to give you everything you pray for…He does say, “No” when our prayers are not aligned with His will. The context surrounding this ask is judgment, and the need one should pray for regarding judgment is wisdom.
James 4:3 states “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” It’s important for our prayers to be in harmony with God’s will, not selfishly for our own desires. If your prayer is based on your will, well, don’t be surprised if God is silent…and when He is silent, I’ve learned that most likely means, “No.” Because, when He says, “Yes,” man…the doors just fly open.
Jesus continue in verses 9-11 with another illustration comparing and contrasting our earthly and heavenly Father.
Matt 7:9-11 “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 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 good things to those who ask Him!”
The natural father (our genetic father) is illustrated as being a man who is responsive to the requests of his child…despite being evil (sinful depravity). If the child asks for food, he gives the child food. He does not play some cruel trick replacing bread for a stone…the child would bite into the stone and it would break their teeth and their heart all at once. Neither would the natural father give their child a snake instead of a fish. The child would get bit.
Verse 11, tells us our earthly fathers, in comparison to a perfectly holy God, are evil- evil in the sense that sin is in their lives. And, if even a sinful father will give good gifts and provide for their child…just imagine how much more will our heavenly Father (who is all loving, all Holy, all righteous) give good gifts? It’s a comparison of extremes. If your earthly father is capable of love, just imagine how much more our perfect Father- God in heaven will give good gifts to those who ask Him. So, Ask.
On another occasion, Jesus taught this same parable, and said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13
Did you hear what was different. Instead of “good things,” this verse states the heavenly Father will “…give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
The Father gave me the Holy Spirit when He first saved me; gave me the Holy Spirit when He changed me through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; and gives me a daily fresh filling of the Holy Spirit to sustain me. And, I ask, and ask often! Make sure you are asking too!
Jesus concludes his thoughts on judging by giving us what has classically been titled “The Golden Rule.”
Matt 7:12 “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Numerous World Religions, Cults, and even humanists have their own version of The Golden Rule.
Hinduism: “One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to one's own self.” (Mahabharata 13.114.8)
Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udanavarga 5:18)
Confucianism: "...never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?" (Analects XV.24)
Islam: "As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don't do to them.”(Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146)
Judaism: “That which is hateful to you do not do to another...” (Shabbat 31a)
Scientology: “Try not to do things to others that you would not like them to do to you.” (The Way to Happiness, Precept 19)
And, I could go on and on…there are many teachings of a form of the Golden rule.
The key difference is these other teachings, most often, word the phrase in the negative “Avoid doing that which is harmful to another.” It’s a defensive posture. Whereas Jesus teaches to press into doing kindness; to be on the offense- in love. It’s a subtle, but major difference.
The common English phrasing of our Christian Golden Rule is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." We see this quoted on greeting cards, thrown around in secular society, but seldom actually lived up to, and often misquoted, for society leaves out the word “therefore” and leaves out the phrase “for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
“Therefore” looks back to the previous context which is judging and praying. “…this is the Law and the Prophets” pulls the reader back to the overall big ideas of the Sermon. Don’t lose sight of the context when quoting the Golden Rule. Context is king!
And, in light of context Jesus is instructing, ‘Judge, pray, and do righteously.’
As Jesus has been teaching His disciples, throughout this sermon, about loving God and loving others and living righteously…NOW he comes to the apex, the pinnacle of His sermon…which is love (a topic Jesus has addressed numerous times in this sermon).
Gal 5:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
A major topic in the body of the Sermon on the Mount has been the Law. Jesus said, in Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets...” and now in Matt 7:12 He says, “…this is the Law and the Prophets.”
And, the repetition of “the Law and Prophets” forms what is called in Biblical literature an “inclusio” or “envelope” which is a literary rule that states the content in between these bookends pertains to and helps define what is formed by these brackets.
So, from Matt 5:17 to Matt 7:12, the Law and the Prophets is the majority of the content of this sermon, summed up by “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.”
You want love, kindness, favor, respect, and so forth from others, so extend this to others.
Jesus said, Matt 22:38-40 “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Rom 13:8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
The intention of the Law was not to lay down some Pharisaic trip on the people…it was not to become a list of dreaded and legalistic rules and regulations. The Law was a guide to lead the people into loving God and loving others.
Worship Team Come
To His Kingdom citizens, Jesus once again let’s them know what He (who fulfills the Law and the Prophets) expects of His citizens- “…whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.”
“Judge, Ask, and Do righteously.” Do these things in love.