I have been following most of the sermons in this current series, and see up to this Sunday every scripture has come from the book of Matthew. I also see most of the scripture selections are from Matthew 5-7. Most of you know Matthew 5-7 is known as the Sermon on the Mount. I, like most of you have read this section many times, have heard much more than one sermon from this portion, and have used these texts for Bible studies. I have become convinced we are not to read this portion of Matthew as an opportunity to pick and choose what quality we want to emulate in our life, or to believe we do not need to spend much time in worry about those issues in which we have room for improvement. Instead, this section is a unified description of the privilege we who have been redeemed and rescued by the work of Jesus Christ so that we can experience right now the Kingdom of Heaven. As this sermon series describes, these commands are “A Charge to Keep,” not a choosing of what I want to do but what God wants to do in and through me.
For those who do not identify themselves as followers of Jesus, it would not be uncommon to hear them say if they examine the Bible at all it is to try to find the commands they cannot accept. While for the follower of Jesus, we read the Bible to examine God’s Word and ourselves, and refrain from practicing the things God cannot accept. Those in the world who look for those commands they cannot accept would probably have to say what they read in Matthew 7:1 is right along with their view of understanding and living in this life. In their understanding “do not judge” supports the idea that if we are to love others we must be tolerant and even develop an attitude of acceptance of their ideas, lifestyles, and actions without criticism or disagreement. I would suspect when this same person reads Matthew 7:6 they would conclude this is the most narrow minded, legalistic, overbearing view of a treatment to another person. How could any person express one view in verse 1 and the same person express an apparently completely different view in verse 6?
I would venture even we who follow Jesus have had some struggles with understanding how verse 1 and verse 6 fit together. We are not to flip a coin between verses 1 and 6. These are not options for us to choose, these are commands which help us to draw closer our Lord, and are used by Him in our reaching out to others whom we love. Prayerfully, our hope this Sunday is to find some things which will help us grow more to be like Jesus, and give us a distinctive difference in living than those who do not know him.
I am grateful for the privilege and honor to be with you this Sunday, and the following are some things for us to think about before we worship together.
- The word “judge” has some broad understandings in the scriptures, and sometimes other English words are used to translate the original Greek word (“krino”). Find these other words in John 3:17, Acts 20:16, I Corinthians 6:1, II Corinthians 5:14
- How do you distinguish what some may say is a contradiction between Matthew 7:1 and John 7:24?
- When you think of the word “hypocrite,” what things come to your mind?
- Are there ways in your life where you may be seen more as a “judge” or a “hypocrite,” but not a “brother?” How does James 2:1-13 address this question?