Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Living a Life Acceptable to God

Matthew 7:1-14

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

Jesus warned against judging others because they would be held to the same standard as that by which they judged others.  The Jews had developed various schools of interpretation of the law after being conquered by the Greeks.  Over the years, they had collected the various interpretations into what is known today as the Talmud, using them much like lawyers today use legal precedence today.  What one group regarded as right might well be totally unacceptable to another group. 

Before judging others, they needed to be very sure of their own position.  People tend to judge others on the basis of what they know about themselves, assuming the same attitudes and motivations.  A thief usually assumes other people would steal if they thought they could get by with it, and an adulterer usually assumes others would commit adultery if the chance presented itself, because they know what they would do. 

Jesus warned that we need to eliminate wrong doing from our own lives before we judge others, so that we can judge fairly, based solely on the facts, rather than our assumptions.  Our own guilt otherwise may cause us to totally misconstrue what really happened.  Frequently, the assumed wrong never even happened.
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:5)

Just because something is important to you does not mean it will matter to everyone.  Some people consider what you share unimportant, and they may even use it as an excuse to turn on you, even using the things you shared against you.  Our decisions need to be based on the facts, not our own attitudes and emotions.   We need to use discretion in dealing with other people, whether sharing the gospel or just facts about our own lives.  

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11)

The Jews claimed God as their father, just as Christians today do.  If a father cares about his children, he will do his best to provide the things they ask for.  He will not deliberately give them something that will hurt them instead.  If a person truly believes God is a loving father, there should be no fear that God will be angered by asking for something if asked in a respectful manner.   They should not be afraid of being punished for asking.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:12-14)

Just as a child ought to try to please a loving father, people who believe God is a loving father should act accordingly.  Most of God’s commands related to how people treate those around them.  Jesus said all Gods commandments could be summed up in just two in Matthew 22:37-40.  “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

If a person treated others the way he wanted to be treated, je would be loving others the way he loved himself.  He would also be demonstrating his love for god by obeying him.   As Jesus points out, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for different ways of behaving to others, and not many are willing to limit themselves.  Most are more like children today, determined to go their own way with no concern for the effect on others.  Just as refusing to follow the standards set by their parents and the society may get one into a lot of trouble. Refusing to obey God’s law will result in destruction.  Obedience, on the other hand, will lead to God’s blessing and life.

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