Matthew 5 Sermon on the Mount part 5                Part 6

Our passage for the week was Matthew 7: 1 - 12

As we look at the first verse, it is important for us to cast a glance at verse 15 -16 of Matthew 7. Here it speaks about being aware that there are false prophets, and how to recognise them.  So, straight away, we realised that there is a difference between that kind of discernment and what Jesus is referring to here in verse 1. (We will look at that difference in detail next week). It is also useful to read the account in Luke 6: 37 - 42.

First of all we looked at the three different Greek words used in the New Testament for "judging". These are: "Krima" - Condemnation of wrong (the actual decision), the kind of judgement that God makes and empowers judges to make, which includes sentencing. "Krisis" - referring to the final judgement of God, and "Krino" - to pronounce an opinion about right and wrong, putting in order, testing, criticism. The original text (correct in the King James) reads "...with the judgement (Krima) you judge (Krino), you will be judged (Krino)" and of course this is followed by a similar sounding phrase "with the measure you use, you will be measured" It is interesting that the Pharisees taught (and the Jewish Rabbi's still teach today) that God has two "measures". One in His left hand and one in His right hand. One is called the measure of judgement, and the other is called the measure of mercy. So, it is almost as if Jesus is saying " whichever one of these two measures you use, God will use the same for you..." See James 2: 12 - 13

We then had a very interesting discussion regarding the beam or plank and the splinter or speck of sawdust, and a number of things became clear. First of all, we see that both splinter and plank are of the same substance. This reminded us of the fact that often, we are able to spot something in another, because we know it so well in ourselves...Read Romans 2:1. Another interesting thought is that the splinter in the other person's eye, causes a BIG reaction in ourselves, because the substance of their speck is particularly irritating to us, because of something in our own hearts. This explains why a person standing right next to us, may not react to that same speck in the same way, because they do not have the same "issues" in their heart. This is very important; we need to honestly consider why that particular "speck" in another person, brings on the reaction that it does in us. Then, we must ask God to please show us. It may well be something in our own hearts, that first needs to be dealt with... Of course, once that is dealt with, we will be far more able, with the right attitude and motive, to help that person remove their "speck" This removing of the beam comes by confession and repentance. We also saw that the speck does need to be removed. It must not be watered down, or glanced over.

So, in this line of thought, God actually uses the reaction that we display to another person's "speck" to convict us of something that is in our hearts...I also mentioned the example of when I was teaching young Josh to drive, that once when he wanted to change lanes, I had to warn him that there was a vehicle slightly behind him and to his right. He looked and exclaimed "wow!..how can something that big not be in the mirror?" and I went on to explain the issue of the Blind Spot with him. This is similar...

We also looked at 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 12 and the Amplified Bible puts it beautifully "...love always believes the best..." This could well be a warning to us to always, as far as it is possible, put the best interpretation to what the other person is saying. Not only does this prevent us from becoming paranoid in the end, but it also, as Heidi shared, always encouraged her when she was young, to aim for better things, because the person (in this case her dad) was always so encouraging.

Also read Galatians 6: 1 - 6, James 5: 19 - 20 and 1 Corinthians 4: 3 - 5

For verse 6 of our chapter, it is very useful to look at Proverbs 9: 7 - 8 and 2 Peter 2: 20 - 22. It is clear that in certain cases, one has to refrain from engaging in the kind of "washing of each other's feet" as we have seen above, the context of which is God's people. People outside of that are not ready or do not value what is truly valuable... Also, it confirmed for us that conviction is a sacred work of the Holy Spirit.

Verses 7 - 11 were interesting in the sense that the Amplified Bible gave the correct rendering of the original Greek text - "Keep on asking, and it will be given you, keep on seeking and you will find, keep on knocking and the door will be opened for you..."
This illustrates the idea of persistence, showing a genuine desire. It also called to mind that God entrusts his pearls and the treasure which is Himself, to those who genuinely desire Him. A casual glance or casual interest will not do.
  
Lastly we looked at something peculiar in verse 12. This is the so-called Golden Rule of Life and is actually the basis that many people use to try and prove that all religions are the same. However, we found a subtle difference between these statements and Jesus' words...

Bahá'í Faith:     "Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee...
 
Brahmanism:     "This is the sum of [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if           done to you".
 
Buddhism:     "...a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon         another?" Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful."
 
Confucianism:    "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" . Do not impose on         others what you yourself do not desire.'"

Ancient Egyptian:    "Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do.
 
Hinduism:     This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
 
 Judaism:     "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is         commentary." (Talmud)
       
It is interesting to note that in the statements above, the reason why you must not do such and such to another, is so that they do not do those things to you. It is thus almost like an insurance policy, and the reason why I must not do those things to another, is because in that way I am looking after my own well-being..."I" am thus the centre of this philosophy. It is almost "I scratch your back, you scratch mine, OK..."
Remember, the basis of pagan religion is that my religion, my gods, exist to serve me, which ties up with the above thinking...It also contains the "not" statement, whereas Jesus' words simply commands "Go and do..." Look closely again at what Jesus is saying: Simply consider how you like to be treated and use that as a basis in your dealings with others. The focus is completely outward and is not done for some good deeds that I can then expect in return. 

Linda made a very valuable contribution when she said that this last verse ties the whole section together for her, in the sense that in the same (gentle, comforting) way you would like people to come to you to point out your speck, be that same way when you point out theirs...

For further thought and discussion next week:
Genevieve raised an interesting question regarding the splinter and the plank. She is puzzled as to why the very thing that one hates so much in onesself, is the thing that you point out to others so rashly...Why does that knowledge not lead us the other way of gentleness and kindness in our approach of them? How is this changed? Give it some thought and we'll start with that next week.

© 2011 Werner Schreiber

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