Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Called Out...to Judge? (1 of 4)

The family is the most fundamental of social units. These "units" have many different descriptions. Some of these descriptions are: immediate family, extended family, biological family, adopted family, friends who are like family, church family, etc. In addition, some families are functional or dysfunctional. And on and on.

From the perspective of the church, believers in Christ are called brothers and sisters in Christ which obviously are family terms. But just as not all families biological or other types of families get along, many church families do not as well. And there are a lot of reasons for this. But some of the reasons are the same – too legalistic, not enough discipline, lack of know how, etc. Yet, if the Bible is God's Word, and if He wants us to be a functional family, it makes sense He would leave us some instructions. And He has. Passages such as 1 Cor 7, Eph 5, Col 3, and select others can help. But today, we go to a passage you might not think about first – yet it has a lot to say. The passage Matthew 7.1-11, and although it is about judgment, it is in the midst of a greater section about Kingdom living and hypocrisy.

These verses are towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about from a different section of Jesus' sermon (Matthew 5.21-26) regarding anger and reconciling with others. (You can read them here and here). Although much has been said by Jesus in the next chapter-plus, the theme is still about the Kingdom. A quick look at the Sermon on the Mount by chapter might be as follows:
  • Chapter 5 – The Beatitudes – it was the rich, the powerful that thought they had it all together (and in that culture – FAR MORE than ours, they did). But God honors the poor in spirit, the peacemaker, etc.
  • Chapter 5 – hypocrites thought they were keeping the commandments, but weren't
  • Chapter 6 – hypocrites thought they were giving, praying, fasting, but were not honoring God.
  • Chapter 7 – hypocrites judging others on their standards, not God's; the wise man thought he had it all, but the foolish man's house was the one that stood

So, the Sermon on the Mount is about how to now be a hypocrite. As I mentioned two weeks ago, it is about being more righteous than the Pharisees (the true hypocrites of the day). And this brings us back to Matthew 7 and the notion of judging. However, two verses prior to chapter 7 is Jesus' command to seek first the Kingdom of God. And when we remember that chapters and verses are for our benefit, the verses about judgment become much clearer.

In Part 2, I will explore what Jesus was trying to communicate in these first few verses of Matthew 7 by keeping Matthew 6.33 forefront in our minds.

Part 3 will show that God is more than King and more than Judge, He is our Father – who gives good things.

Part 4 will give four very practical questions to ask before approaching another in judgment.

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