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Study in Matthew’s Gospel

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  1. Study in Matthew’s Gospel Presentation 30

  2. Sermon On The Mount Judging Others Chap 7v1-12 Presentation 30

  3. Introduction A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, entered the office of the president of the University of Harvard. The president, strutted toward the couple. The lady told him, "We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus." The president wasn't touched.... He was shocked. "Madam," he said, gruffly, "we can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery." "Oh, but its not a statue but a building we want to erect”. Presentation 30

  4. Introduction The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, "A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars worth of buildings here at Harvard." For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, "Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don't we just start our own?" Her husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion. Mr. and Mrs. Stanford left to establish a University that bears their name, Stanford University. Harvard learned to its cost the folly of judging others by mere external appearance. Presentation 30

  5. Introduction The theme of chapter 7 develops the idea of the judgement of God and how that judgement should impact upon the way in which we live our lives. And we will see the importance of holding together two aspects of God’s character, God as Judge and as Father. God is both Father and Judge. The terrible thing for the unbeliever is that he is both; in rejecting God’s judgement on his life, the unbeliever also rejects the privilege of having him as his father, in rejecting God’s fatherly grace, the unbeliever encounters him as Judge. For the believer the knowledge that God is father transforms his view of him as Judge, and the knowledge that he is Judge fills him with awe that such a God is also his Father. In the verses before us we will see how the knowledge of God as Judge impacts upon the life of the Christian in relation, to himself, to others and, to God. Presentation 30

  6. Our Judgement Mustn’t Be Censorious Nor Final In v1 Jesus says ‘judge not that you will not be judged’, these are probably the most frequently used but least understood words in this chapter. An amazing variety of strange interpretations have been placed upon these words. Tolstoy for example believed that Jesus was here rejecting human law courts and the whole judicial process. But the context has nothing whatsoever to do with law courts and instead focuses upon our individual dealings with one another. Presentation 30

  7. Our Judgement Mustn’t Be Censorious Nor Final Some are sure that here, Jesus is suggesting that we should conduct a funeral service for all of our critical faculties so that we develop the ability to turn a blind eye to the faults of others and refuse to distinguish between good and evil behaviour. But to pretend evil is not evil is sheer hypocrisy and Jesus would never advocate that. Indeed the very fact that God has made man in his image involves an ability to make value judgements and to distinguish between good and evil. Both the preceding and subsequent verses are based upon the assumption that we should and will use these critical powers. Jesus calls the Christian to be different form the world around him. How can he do that without using his critical faculties in order to evaluate the performance of the word. And on the basis of that evaluation his behaviour is tailored, refusing to be conformed to this world and its standards and allowing instead, God’s word to fashion his conduct. Presentation 30

  8. Our Judgement Mustn’t Be Censorious Nor Final The follower of Jesus is to be a critic in the sense of using his powers of discernment. However, he is not to be a judge in the sense of passing final judgement on a person for this involves a claim to have both competence and authority to sit in judgement upon them. We are being reminded here by Jesus that Men are ultimately answerable to God their Lord and not to us their fellows. Look at Rom 14.4... and also 1 Cor. 4.4-5... The point is clear we dare not put ourselves in the place of God. We do not possess all the facts to judge another, we cannot read their hearts or assess their motives as God can. Let me illustrate this, we may see a fellow Christian who has fallen into some terrible sin but what we have no way of seeing is the number of times they have previously successfully resisted that very temptation nor can we appreciate the cost to them of doing so. Presentation 30

  9. Our Judgement Mustn’t Be Censorious Nor Final So that the great concern of Jesus is that we guard against being censorious and attempt to arrogantly anticipate the day of judgement- this is to usurp the authority of God. The censorious critic judges harshly. He does so without all the facts. He is a faultfinder who tends to be negative and destructive in his criticism of others. He tends to put the worst possible construction on their motives and be ungenerous towards their failures. Presentation 30

  10. Our Judgement Mustn’t Be Censorious Nor Final The command ‘Do not judge’ is therefore not a command to be blind towards evil but to be generous to wards the sinner. Jesus does not ask us to cease to be men by suspending our critical powers but he commands us not to play at being God by setting ourselves up as those who will make a final judgement on others. When Jesus says, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you’, he is not saying God will use the same vindictive principles we sometimes use but that the judgement of God will be based on our lives, and how our hearts expressed themselves in thoughts and acts towards others. Presentation 30

  11. Judgement And Hypocrisy In v3-4 Jesus recites a famous little parable the point of which is to expose the hypocrisy in which we can so easily engage when we criticise others. Simply put we love to meddle with the little faults we see in the lives of others while refusing to deal with our own more serious faults. Here is a further reason The humour of Jesus is Quite devastating. If you have ever tried to remove a foreign body from someone’s eye then you will know that it is quite a delicate operation. You need good sight, a steady hand, and most importantly an unimpeded view of the eye to be operated on. What you least need is a large plank in your own eye that entirely blocks your vision. Can you think of anything more guaranteed to make your patient lose confidence? Presentation 30

  12. Judgement And Hypocrisy When this caricature is transferred to ourselves and to our ridiculous fault-finding we do not always appreciate the joke. In the dregs of our fallen human natures there lurks the fatal tendency to exaggerate the faults of others and to minimise our own. When we compare ourselves with others we find it difficult to be objective and impartial. Indeed if the truth be told the very faults we find most annoying in others are those that lodge comfortably in our own lives. Presentation 30

  13. Judgement And Hypocrisy Now the truly repulsive element in the critical behaviour in view here is that it presents itself in the guise of well intentioned kindness. ‘Can I help you with this speck in your life?’ The hypocrisy of this self inflated behaviour Jesus finds nauseating. To exalt ourselves by disparaging others is a very cheap way of attaining moral superiority - ‘Lord I thank you that I am not as other men...’ In our dealings with others the very least we should be doing is to apply to ourselves the same strict standard that we apply to others. cf.. 1Cor 11.31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgement. Here is a second reason why we are unfit to be judges, not simply because we are fallible human beings who do not possess all the facts but because we are fallen human beings who view things with a distorted perspective. Presentation 30

  14. Judgement Is To Be Loving And Corrective In the light of this you may well be thinking that it is safer not to become involved with other Xns at all, that it is best to opt out of other people’s lives. Some people have taken Jesus meaning here to be that he is telling us all to mind our own business. That other peoples failings are no concern of ours. That is a dangerous conclusion to draw. Censoriousness and hypocrisy are forbidden but this does not relive us from our brotherly responsibility towards one another. This would run contrary to J’ teaching. Cf. Matt 18.15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Presentation 30

  15. Judgement Is To Be Loving And Corrective Once we have seen the necessity of dealing with our own eye trouble and known the relief which that brings, we will not only see clearly to deal with our brothers eye but will want to do so with tenderness and care. This idea is developed by Paul in Gal. 6. 1ff Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. The word translated ‘restore’ was used in antiquity for setting a broken bone. Presentation 30

  16. Judgement Is To Be Loving And Corrective Therefore we are to address the faults of others with care and kindness. This caring approach stands in stark contradiction to the harsh, censorious superior spirit to which Xns are often exposed. We are to deal with others as fellow patients who ourselves have undergone corrective soul surgery and who know the pain involved and who want to offer the maximum comfort and support. I‘ve heard people say, ‘I care for my friends too much to talk to them about their failures.’ But what they describe as care is often cowardice bordering upon indifference. A speck of dirt in the eye is rightly called a foreign body. It doesn’t belong. It is alien and usually painful and can be dangerous. To leave it there, offering to make no attempt to remove it is inconsistent with brotherly love. Presentation 30

  17. Judgement Is To Be Loving And Corrective Again it is clear that Jesus is not condemning criticism as such but only criticism of others when we have exercised no comparable self-criticism. Jesus is not opposed to correction but only the correction of those who have themselves refused to be patients and submit themselves to the Surgeon’s knife. I mentioned recently John Chrysostom a noted preacher of the early church, he writes on this subject: Correct him but not as a foe, nor as an adversary exacting a penalty, but as a physician providing medicine. Presentation 30

  18. Judgement Is To Be Discriminative When we come to v 6 and the matter of casting ones pearls before swine we might wonder, ‘Does this belong to a block of teaching in the subject of judgement?’ It clearly does! For it impresses upon the Christian the need for discrimination. Not everyone is grateful for corrective criticism In the book of proverbs one of the ways in which the writer distinguishes between the wise man and the fool is that the fool despises correction cf. Prov. 9.8.. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.. Presentation 30

  19. Judgement Is To Be Discriminative In v 6 Jesus uses strong language to describe a particular type of man. He is saying that spiritually some people behave like dogs and pigs we need to recognise that and behave appropriately. There are a number of possible applications. First we are not being called to mindless evangelism. There are some people who trample on the gospel message refusing to recognise its value as a pig would trample upon a pearl. Jesus is not forbidding the preaching of the gospel to unbelievers but describing those who have had ample opportunity to hear and receive the good news and who have decisively and defiantly rejected it. They provide clear evidence for their contempt for God and his gospel. Presentation 30

  20. Judgement Is To Be Discriminative To persist beyond a certain point in offering the gospel to such people is to invite not only rejection with contempt but with blasphemy. You may remember the way in which Jesus practically applied this principle to the ministry of the 12 before sending them out on their first preaching trip. cf. Matt10.14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. There is also a more general principle underlying Jesus words in v6 and it is learning the wisdom of appropriate activity. Why don’t we feed swine with peals because it is inappropriate to do so. The person who does so neither understands the value of pearls or the nature of pigs. Yet we often find believers engaged in activities or behaving in a fashion that is inapproriateto their Christian profession. It is searching to ask how appropriate is my behaviour. Do I by my life enhance or obscure the gospel. We are called upon to judge ourselves in this matter. Presentation 30

  21. Judgement Is To Be Discriminative Why does Jesus return to the subject of prayer in v7-11? Let me suggest that it is impossible to be exposed to all of this teaching on judgement and discernment and not be aware of our own need. We are so spiritually short-sighted and undiscerning. Jesus teaches here what has been described as 'beggars logic’. We are to persist daily in asking for God’s grace as beggars who daily knock for provision. In our case however, the One who responds to our asking, and reveals himself to our seeking and who opens his heart to our knocking, is a Father to us! And that fact should quicken our expectation and confidence. We must never lose sight of the fact that the One who is our Judge is also our Father. So that to live under the judgement of God for the Christian does not produce paralysing fear. It is in fact a remedy for self-absorption and the way to real spiritual freedom, in which we are happy to serve God and others. Presentation 30

  22. Judgement Is To Be Discriminative This leads in to v12. Only the person who sees at one and the same time that he is a beggar and a son and can confidently access the grace of God Will be sufficiently set free from self-centredness to put others first and to do to them what he would appreciate receiving from them. This principle gives us in a nutshell what is expounded and illustrated endlessly throughout scripture. The gospel does not enforce a complex set of rules but calls us into a relationship of grace and love. Recognising this and being mastered by it frees us to serve others and to bring blessing to them as the Lord has brought it to us. Presentation 30

  23. Conclusion Knowing God as Judge has a sanctifying effect upon our lives. It encourages a more rigorous pursuit of holiness. It teaches us to be stricter with ourselves and creates a determination to master it. But knowing that God is judge should also teach us to be merciful and gentle in our dealings with others. It is as we see the weakness of our own hearts and the failure of our own lives that we are equipped to be compassionate in our dealings with the failures of others. To see God as Judge will also clarify our attitude towards the Lord himself and this will influence our Christian service and create a sense of urgency in our prayer lives. God grant it to be so. Presentation 30