Gospel of Matthew Chapter Seven Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Trust In Him
Verses 1-2: "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." When people become harsh and critical, watch out! They will be surprised to find that they will, in turn, be treated in a harsh and critical way. Such treatment is so they finally get it that others have feelings, too, and that people have been wounded unfairly. Being judged in that manner is like medicine to a hospital patient—medicine that heals but it does have side effects! It's like God holds a mirror up to us so we finally see ourselves. But note, as you can understand in 1 Corinthians 6, Jesus' words here are about having a judgmental, critical spirit. In the Corinthians reference, we are encouraged TO judge people, but do it accurately and fairly, not on the basis of resentful feelings.
Verses 3-5: "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." After studying the previous chapters in this "Sermon on the Mount," it should occur to us that it's much easier for us to see sins in others than to see them in ourselves. If someone's behavior annoys us, it may well be that God is pointing them out to us so we will 1) pray for that person, and 2) wonder if perhaps we may have negative characteristics also. "Criticism" is not some kind of gift from the Holy Spirit, as some seem to think, but encouraging others is a sign that we are growing in the grace and knowledge of God. Come to the Lord and be changed—THEN look at others, breathing this simple prayer—"Help me, Lord, to help them."
Verse 6: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Have you ever argued with someone about some aspect of your faith, and they've totally disagreed with you? The reality is—you believe, and likely so do they—but about something else. The atheist or adherent to a false religious belief really believes, though it may be in a lie. We have the Holy Spirit, but they likely don't know Him. And their arguments can be powerful. When we speak of Jesus, we speak the truth, but they don't know He is true. So pray, seek the Lord, and when it is HIS time, they will listen.
Verses 7-11: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Isn't answered prayer amazing? Often the answer will differ in certain ways from what we might have expected. Very recently, I moved into a new home. It was different in some ways than I expected, but also better. Answers to prayer will come to those who believe, but God knows the needs of His children better than we do. His responses are perfect, whereas our requests are bound by limited understanding. He has no such limitations. Keep on praying and rejoice when the answer surely comes.
Verse 12: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." How do you want to be treated? Do you want to be loved, liked and respected? Then love, like and respect others. They may or may not respond to you kindly, but that's not the point. Your part and mine is simply to pray, help them as the Lord leads, and trust in Him for the outcome. That's "the Law and the Prophets."
Verses13-14: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." There is only one way to find the place called "heaven" and that is through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We learn it in many places, such as John 14:6—"I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father, except through Me." Jesus IS the "narrow gate." People listen to all kinds of philosophies and religious and scientific-sounding theories, but sadly, many miss the "narrow gate." Look to Jesus, pray, and trust in Him today.
Verses 15-20: "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits." Decades ago, I read many religious books from around the world and then finally read the Bible. I didn't know what to believe and so at last I prayed. God opened the "narrow gate" for me and gave me His Holy Spirit. The "good fruit" began to grow, and the process where the "bad fruit" falls away from the "tree" is still occurring. Just trust in the Lord and He will do what we cannot do alone. Look fearfully at yourself and at those around you—He will show you who is who and what is what—about everything.
Verses 21-23: "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’" These verses are actually scary, aren't they? But here's how it works: It's not any seemingly amazing religious acts we may perform that define us, it's the Lord Himself in us. Look to the Lord Himself, and commit yourself to Him. Our audience is not those who see or hear what we do... we have an Audience of One, and He is the Lord. As we walk in Him and talk with Him, we begin to see that prayer is not a one-way street—it's you speaking to God and Him leading you into responsiveness. Place your faith in Him and discover His will. If He calls you to do amazing things or not, just do, as He leads.
Verses 24-27: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” As stated, I am living in a new home. It's been raining, but I am not wet because the house kept me dry. When you hear the words of the Lord and go where He leads, it's an act of trusting in God. We wonder, was that from the Lord, or was it from me? The Holy Spirit is busy inside of the faithful, establishing us like a house on a sure foundation, revealing what is from God and what is not. The rains, floods and winds of life do come, but the Lord protects His own, anchoring us to the Rock.
Verses 28-29 "When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." If you've ever taken something like a "comparative religions" class in school, you might come out of it like I did, wondering which religion is the right one. The truth is that what you need is not about religion at all—it's not a which one, it's a Who—and His Name is Jesus Christ. The Jewish scribes mentioned by Jesus were like teachers everywhere. They researched, they quoted, they formulated their own opinions—and taught! Jesus was and is—different. Everything He said and did as the God-man on earth, sent by the Father to save us from our sins, came through God's Holy Spirit. His words should amaze us, just as they did the "crowds" at that moment. He has "authority." He is God.
Lord, I've been critical of people when I should have helped them. All too often, I have acted before I prayed. Help me, Holy Spirit, to become the person You intend me to be. I am Yours. I trust in You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.