Matthew 7

#Mt 7:1| XLII. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) G. LAW CONCERNING JUDGING. #Mt 7:1-6 Lu 6:37-42| Judge not, that ye be not judged. Here again Jesus lays down a general principle in the form of universal prohibition. The principle is, of course, to be limited by other Scriptural laws concerning judgment. It does not prohibit: 1. Judgment by civil courts, which is apostolically approved (#Tit 3:1 Heb 13:17 2Pe 2:13-15|). 2. Judgment of the church on those who walk disorderly; for this also was ordered by Christ and his apostles (#Mt 18:16,17 Tit 3:10 2Th 3:6,14 2Jo 1:10 1Ti 1:20 6:5|). 3. Private judgment as to wrong-doers. This is also ordered by Christ and his apostles (#Mt 7:15,16 Ro 16:17 1Jo 4:1 1Co 5:11|). The commandment is leveled at rash, censorious and uncharitable judgments, and the fault-finding spirit or disposition which condemns upon surmise without examination of the charges, forgetful that we also shall stand in the judgment and shall need mercy (#Ro 14:10 Jas 2:13|). Our judgment of Christians must be charitable, (#Joh 7:24 1Co 13:5,6|) in remembrance of the fact that they are God's servants (#Ro 14:4|); and that he reserves to himself the ultimate right of judging both them and us (#Ro 14:4 1Co 4:3,4 2Co 5:10|). (TFG 260-261) #Mt 7:2| For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. Though God shall judge us with absolute justice, yet justice often requires that we receive even in the same measure in which we have given it, so in a sense the merciful receive mercy, and the censorious receive censure (#Jas 2:12,13|). But from men we receive judgment in the measure in which we give it. Applying the teaching here given locally, we find that Jesus, having condemned the Pharisees in their manner of praying (#Mt 6:5,6|), now turns to reprove them for their manner of judging. Their censorious judgments of Christ himself darken many pages of the gospel. But with a bitter spirit they condemned as sinners beyond the pale of mercy whole classes of their countrymen, such as publicans, Samaritans, and the like, besides their wholesale rejection of all heathen. These bitter judgments swiftly returned upon the heads of the judges and caused the victorious Roman to wipe out the Jewish leaders without mercy. It is a great moral principle of God's government that we reap as we sow (#Job 4:8 Ps 72:8 Ho 8:7 10:12 2Co 9:6 Ga 6:7,8|). Censorious judgment and its harvest are merely one form of culture which comes under this general law. (TFG 261) #Mt 7:3-5| Why beholdest thou the mote. Chip or speck of wood dust. But considerest not the beam. Heavy house timber. That is in thine own eye? In Matthew and Luke (#Lu 6:41,42|) Jesus gives slightly varying applications to this allegorical passage by setting it in different connections. In Luke, as we see, he places it after the words which describe the disastrous effect of being blind leaders of the blind (#Lu 6:39,40|). It therefore signifies in this connection that we ourselves should first see if we would teach others to see. In Matthew he places it after the words about censorious judgment (#Mt 7:1,2|), where it means that we must judge ourselves before we can be fit judges of others. The thought is practically the same, for there is little difference between correcting others as their teachers or as their self-appointed judges. Jesus graphically and grotesquely represents a man with a log, or rafter, in his eye trying to take a chip or splinter out of his neighbor's eye. Both parties have the same trouble or fault, but the one having the greater seeks to correct the one having the less. The application is that he who would successfully teach or admonish must first be instructed or admonished himself (#Ga 6:1|). In moral movements men can not be pushed; they must be led. Hence those who would teach must lead the way. Those who have reformed their own faults can "see clearly" how to help others. But so long as we continue in sin, we are blind leaders of the blind. Compare the application of this parable in Luke. See TFG "#Lu 6:41|". (TFG 263) #Mt 7:6| Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine. The connection here is not obvious. This saying, however, appears to be a limitation of the law against judging. The Christian must not be censoriously judicial, but he should be discriminatingly judicious. He must know dogs and swine when he sees them, and must not treat them as priests and kings, the fit objects for the bestowal of holy food and goodly ornaments. Dogs and swine were unclean animals. The former were usually undomesticated and were often fierce. In the East they are still the self-appointed scavengers of the street. The latter were undomesticated among the Jews, and hence are spoken of as wild and liable to attack man. Meats connected with the sacrificial service of the altar were holy. Even unclean men were not permitted to eat of them, much less unclean brutes. What was left after the priests and clean persons had eaten was to be burned with fire (#Le 6:24-30 7:15-21|). To give holy things to dogs was to profane them. We are here forbidden, then, to use any religious office, work, or ordinance, in such a manner as to degrade or profane it. Saloons ought not to be opened with prayer, nor ought adulterous marriages to be performed by a man of God. To give pearls to swine is to press the claims of the gospel upon those who despise it until they persecute you for annoying them with it. When such men are known, they are to be avoided. Jesus acted on this principle in refusing to answer the Pharisees, and the apostles did the same in turning to the Gentiles when their Jewish hearers would begin to contradict and blaspheme. Compare #15:2,3 21:23-27 Ac 13:46 19:9|. (TFG 263-264) #Mt 7:7| XLII. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) H. CONCERNING PRAYER. #Mt 7:7-11| Ask . . . seek . . . knock. The words here are slightly climacteric. Asking is a simple use of voice, seeking is a motion of the body, and knocking is an effort to open and pass through obstacles. (TFG 264) #Mt 7:8| For every one that asketh receiveth. Jesus here uses the universal "every one," but he means every one of a class, for the term is modified by the prescribed conditions of acceptable prayer (#Mt 6:14,15 Jas 1:6,7 4:3 1Jo 5:14|). We see also by #Mt 7:9| that it means every one who is recognized by God as a son. All God's children who pray rightly are heard. (TFG 264) #Mt 7:9,10| Who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? Fish and bread were the common food of the peasants of Galilee. A stone might resemble a cake, but if given it would deceive the child. A serpent might resemble an eel or a perch, but if given it would be both deceptive and injurious. We often misunderstand God's answer thus. But our sense of sonship should teach us better. (TFG 264) #Mt 7:11| If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, etc. Here is an argument from analogy. It is assumed that the paternal feeling which prompts us to give good things to our children, is still a higher degree in God with reference to his children; and hence it is argued that he will much more give good things to those who ask him. Since it is Jesus who assumes the likeness on which the argument rests, we may rely on the correctness of the reasoning; but we must be cautious how we derive arguments of our own from the analogy between God's attributes and the corresponding characteristics of man. For example, this attribute of paternal feeling has been employed to disprove the reality of the eternal punishment with which God himself threatens the sinner, because the paternal feeling in man would prevent him from so punishing his own children. The fallacy in the argument consists in assuming that the feeling in question must work the same results in every particular in God that it does in man. But Revelation teaches that such is not the case. (TFG 264-265) #Mt 7:12| XLII. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) I. THE GOLDEN RULE. #Mt 7:12 Lu 6:31| All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets. Jesus connects the Golden Rule with what precedes with the word "therefore." We are to practice the Golden Rule because God's divine judgment teaches forbearance, and his goodness teaches kindness. This precept is fitly called the Golden Rule, for it embraces in its few words the underlying and governing principle of all morality. It contains all the precepts of the law with regard to man, and all the amplifications of those precepts given by the prophets. It teaches us to put ourselves in our neighbor's place, and direct our conduct accordingly. It assumes, of course, that when we put ourselves in our neighbor's place, we are wise enough not to make any foolish wishes, and good enough not to make any evil ones. The great sages {**} Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Hillel each groped after this truth, but they stated it thus: "Do not do to others what you would not have done to you"; thus making it a rule of not doing rather than of doing. But the striking difference between these teachers and Christ lies not in the statements so much as in the exemplification. Jesus lived the Golden Rule in his conduct toward men, and maintained perfect righteousness before God in addition thereto. {**} It is instructive to consider the statements of these philosophers and teachers referred to by McGarvey and Pendleton. The Greek rhetorician and orator, Socrates (469-399 B.C.), in his Advice to Nicocles, states, "What stirs your anger when done to you by others, that do not to others." According to the Talmud Shabbath, Hillel (fl. 30 B.C.-A.D. 10), the renowned Jewish rabbi, proposes, "What is hateful to you do not to your neighbor. This is the whole Law, the rest is Commentary." The Chinese philosopher and teacher Confucius (551-479 B.C.) in his Analects (15.23) says, in what is called "The Silver Rule," "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." Using ordinary research tools, I have not been able to locate the quotation attribted to Buddha. Perhaps McGarvey was referring to the Hindu epic poem, The Mahabharata, which states, "Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou wouldst not have him do to thee hereafter."--Ed. (TFG 265) #Mt 7:13,14| XLII. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) J. THE TWO WAYS AND THE FALSE PROPHETS. #Mt 7:13-23 Lu 6:43-45| Enter ye in by the narrow gate, etc. The Master here presents two cities before us. One has a wide gateway opening onto the broad street, and other a narrow gate opening onto a straitened street or alley. The first city is Destruction, the second is Life. Compare with #Lu 13:24|. (TFG 266) #Mt 7:14| For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it. See TFG "#Lu 13:24|". #Mt 7:15| Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. From the two ways Jesus turns to warn his disciples against those who lead into the wrong path--the road to destruction. Prophets are those who lay claim to teach men correctly the life which God would have us live. The scribes and Pharisees were such, and Christ predicted the coming of others (#Mt 24:5,24|), and so did Paul (#Ac 20:29|). Their fate is shown in #Mt 7:21,22|. By "sheep's clothing" we are to understand that they shall bear a gentle, meek, and inoffensive outward demeanor; but they use this demeanor as a cloak to hide their real wickedness, and so effectually does it hide it that the false prophets often deceive even themselves. (TFG 266) #Mt 7:16| By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Compare with #Lu 6:44|. #Mt 7:17| Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, etc. Compare with #Lu 6:43|. #Mt 7:19| Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. It is a law of universal application that whatever is useless and evil shall eventually be swept away. (TFG 267) #Mt 7:20| Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them. See TFG "#Lu 6:45|". #Mt 7:21| Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. To say, "Lord, Lord," is to call on the Lord in prayer. While it is almost impossible to overestimate the value of prayer when associated with a consistent life, it has been too common to attribute to it a virtue which it does not possess. The Pharisees were excessively devoted to prayer, and they led the people to believe that every prayerful man would be saved. The Mohammedans and Romanists are subject to the same delusion, as may be seen in their punctilious observance of the forms of prayer, while habitually neglecting many of the common rules of morality. It is here taught that prayer, unattended by doing the will of the Father in heaven, can not save us. Doing the will of God must be understood, not in the sense of sinless obedience, but as including a compliance with the conditions on which sins are forgiven. Whether under the old covenant or the new, sinless obedience is an impossibility; but obedience to the extent of our possibility amid the weaknesses of the flesh, accompanied by daily compliance with the conditions of pardon for our daily sin, has ever secured the favor of God. (TFG 267-268) #Mt 7:22| Many will say to me in that day. The final judgment day. Lord, Lord. See TFG "#Mt 7:21|". Did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? Jesus here prophetically forecasts those future times wherein it would be worth while to assume to be a Christian. Times when hypocrisy would find it a source of profit and of honor to be attached to Christ's service. In these days we may well question the motives which induce us to serve Christ. High place in the visible kingdom is no proof of one's acceptance with God. Neither are mighty works, though successfully wrought in his name. Judas was an apostle and miracle-worker, and Balaam was a prophet, yet they lacked that condition of the heart which truly allies one with God (#1Co 13:1-3|). Jesus says the number of false teachers is large. We must not carelessly ignore the assertion of that important fact. We should also note that Christ will not lightly pass over their errors on the judgment day, though they seem to have discovered them for the first time. Such truths should make us extremely cautious both as teachers and learners. (TFG 268) #Mt 7:23| And then will I profess unto them. Better, confess. I never knew you. Never approved or recognized you. See #Mt 25:12|. Depart from me. #Mt 25:41|. Ye that work iniquity. This indicates that false teachers filled with a patronizing spirit toward the Lord, and with a sense of power as to his work, will be deceived by a show of success. Through life Christ appeared to them to be accepting them and approving their lives, but he now confesses that this appearance was not real. It arose from a misconception on their part and on that of others. Many works which men judge to be religious really undermine religion. The world esteems him great whose ministry begets Pharisees, but in Christ's eyes such a one is a worker of iniquity. (TFG 268) #Mt 7:24| XLII. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) K. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION: TWO BUILDERS. #Mt 7:24-29 Lu 6:46-49| Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them. See #Joh 13:17 Jas 1:22|. Shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. The word rock suggests Christ himself. No life can be founded upon Christ's teaching unless it be founded also upon faith and trust in his personality. For this we must dig deep, for as St. Gregory says, "God is not to be found on the surface." (TFG 269) #Mt 7:25| And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew. The imagery of this passage would be impressive anywhere, but is especially so when used before an audience accustomed to the fierceness of an Eastern tempest. Rains, floods, etc., represent collectively the trials, the temptations and persecutions which come upon us from without. There comes a time to every life when these things throng together and test the resources of our strength. (TFG 269) #Mt 7:26| And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, etc. See #Lu 6:49|. #Mt 7:27| And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof. We do not need to go to Palestine to witness the picture portrayed here. Whole towns on the Missouri and the lower Mississippi have been undermined and swept away because built upon the sand. Jesus here limits the tragedy to a single house. "A single soul is a great ruin in the eyes of God" (Godet). Jesus did not end his sermon with a strain of consolation. It is not always best to do so. (TFG 270) #Mt 7:28| The multitudes were astonished at his teaching. See TFG "#Mr 1:22|". #Mt 7:29| And not as their scribes. See TFG "#Mr 1:22|".
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