We will study Matthew chapter 7 in two parts: half this week and half next week. Tonight’s study is comprised of verses 1-14.
Forming an opinion is natural. That is why the first passage in verses 1-5 is challenging. Comparing ourselves to others can happen without intention and while not necessarily bad, as it can teach us things about ourselves, it can be unhealthy. When comparison turns into judgment teetering on condemnation, then we are elbowing in on God’s perfect judgment. Whether someone else is right or wrong has no bearing on the destination of our souls. In fact, we are highly unqualified to judge another person. It is better that we leave it up to God to judge with His righteous and effective judgment.
Jesus’s words are very clear about how we will be judged ourselves in direct proportion to how we judge. As in the illustration of the speck/plank, we need to be aware that we might have worse character defects than the person we judge.
We have to acknowledge that we will never be perfect in this. It would be silly and impossible to assume that we will never again judge a human being. As mentioned earlier, it happens naturally. The tone of our judgment has to be managed so that it is helpful, not hurtful for ourselves and for others. If the results of our judging someone is that we help the person, then we judge rightly. Righteous judgment like this can be particularly helpful with those closest to us, family and close friends.
What it boils down to is that we cannot control others; we can only control ourselves. Why do we dwell on other’s faults when we have some of our own that need work? Once we improve ourselves, we are more qualified to help others (speck/plank again). We should also be smart in the use of righteous judgment. If it does no good, if it is resisted and denied, then we can find a better use of our time.
The next passage in verses 7-12 reveal God’s love and grace in a way that is enlightening. After having considered the weighty matter of judgment, Jesus instructs that God wants to provide. His love for us is great and willing to give: we need only seek Him and make requests through prayer. God behaves to us as a father to his children, with love, provision and care. If we obey Him, seek Him, and ask Him, we will receive His blessings. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
Verse 12 is the source for what is known as the golden rule. However we should like others to treat us, that is how we should treat others. Do we want people to be friendly, welcoming and kind towards us? Do we want them to ignore us? Judge us? Talk about us behind our back?
Lastly for tonight we review verses 13 and 14. All scripture is important and has weight, but these two verses seem particularly heavy with meaning. They describe and compare the way that most of the people in the world live with the way we should live if we want to go to heaven:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
As most of us probably know, living in sin is easy. And it’s fun. It would be foolish to deny that sin does not bring pleasure and happiness (even if the happiness is fleeting). It does not take a lot of effort to do what we want to do as individuals with our lives. That is simple. What takes effort is finding that path of righteousness in life and staying on it. Sacrificing our own desires for God’s desires. Praying every morning and night and studying the Bible daily are the two best ways I know of to stay on this path to heaven.