Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
What Does this Passage Say?
- Today we conclude Jesus famous Sermon on the Mount. For my previous thoughts you can access them by clicking here for chapter five and clicking here for chapter six.
- Have you heard it said that Christians are not to judge others? What thoughts flow through your mind? Most people that I have had this discussion with center around the idea that in no way should we judge another person. That is not Jesus intention here.
- Mark Moore indicates that the Greek word used for judge here is krinō. This word can mean “to analyze” or “evaluate” or even “to condemn.”[i] With these three possible understandings we can derive what Jesus is indicating here in this discussion. Jesus is not saying we should not see others and not judge their behavior. We would be wrong if we notice a brother in sin and not offer correct teachings, discipleship, help, and mentorship. That is the analyze understanding of judgment.
- To help understand judging better we can turn to this same sermon in the Luke’s gospel and get a different word translation. The translators of the NIV chose the word condemn in Luke 6:37. Since krinō can mean analyze, evaluate, or condemn we can understand that Jesus prohibition here was condemnation. Jesus tells us it is not our place to judge a man’s soul and standing before God. To in love show a brother his faults and his sins is noble and helpful. The key to all of that is love.
- If Jesus intended for us to not judge and not help our brothers He would have never said, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your won eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5 NIV) We have a responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. But as we care for them we must be cognoscente of our own struggles; continually working to eliminate our sins and faults.
- The final sections of this sermon by Jesus are sort of conclusions to the entire sermon. In essence they are Jesus returning to what he has already said and putting a ribbon on it like a nicely wrapped package.
- He returns to the teaching of prayer, the idea of asking God like he taught in the Lord ’s Prayer of chapter six.
- He reminds us of the Kingdom of Heaven. Before in the Beatitudes He included two that talked about the Kingdom of Heaven as an inheritance. Neither of the two elements are pleasant. Jesus reminds us that the gate of Heaven is narrow. When Jesus speaks these words He is yet to go to the cross. The time is not ready to reveal what the Kingdom of Heaven is exactly. But we know. We know that Jesus is the narrow gate, that He is the only gate to Heaven. It takes faith and belief in Him and nothing else to enter.
- Jesus spoke earlier in the Sermon about those who lived strictly according to the Law. He has already said He will take the Law to the next level, that He has come to fulfill it. But Jesus also wants to remind that there is going to be some who will come bearing fruit that is not of God. They will claim to be of God, but in reality they are pawns of Satan. The way to enter the Kingdom is to call Jesus Lord, to elevate Him to a high position of authority.
- Jesus concludes this sermon by sharing that his words are the foundation for all of life. He illustrates this with the idea of wise and foolish builders. One built on a foundation of Sand. I used to live in Easter North Carolina during college. I would visit the Outer Banks often during my four years there. I always thought it was foolish that we built so much on the Outer Banks, a barrier of nothing but sand. A few years ago a hurricane (possibly a tropical storm) came roaring in completely opening up a new water passage way between the Atlantic Ocean and Sound cutting off of any vehicular travel to all points south. Jesus would call this type of building foolish. On the other hand He praises the builder who builds upon the foundation of rock. Jesus says that building our faith and lives upon His words is like building upon the foundation of rock.
What is this passage teaching?
- Jesus has focused on the heart in previous parts of this sermon. Today’s reading is no different. He is still calling for us to examine our heart. When we judge others, with what type of heart are we doing so … a heart to condemn or a heart of love to build up and encourage? Jesus encourages us to have a heart of prayer, a heart that seeks God and the goodness He provides. Jesus asks us to have a heart that seeks Him for salvation and nothing else. Jesus warns us to protect our heart for false prophets and teachers, to seek those who bear good fruit and to bear good fruit for others to see ourselves. Jesus asks us to build our hearts upon His foundation and nothing else.
How can I apply this passage to my life?
- Let me encourage you to apply the lesson of judgment to your life. Jesus asks, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eyes and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NIV) There is nothing wrong looking out for your brother; in fact it is a great need in our churches today. But before we begin looking out for each other, we must check our heart, our motives, and even our own actions. What one thing can you identify that you need to remove; what beam, what log, what plank, is driving your life that you can eradicate in 2014? Begin working on that. Also learn to judge your brother without condemnation.