Golden (Matthew 7:12)

Jesus has told us that God’s character is such that He always gives to those who ask, always reveals to those who seek, and always opens His door to those who knock. These truths are awe-inspiring revelations of God’s grace and care for His children. They speak to His kindness. They speak to His compassion. They speak to His mercy. To His long-suffering nature and His love for that which He made. These truths are a revelation of Him, as all Scripture is. 

And as does all Scripture, that revelation of Himself and His character as good to us likewise has a purpose! A practical application that Jesus does not want us to miss, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Jesus statement in this verse is called the “Golden Rule”. An even more succinct version of this statement is Luke’s Gospel account of the same verse, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” 

The Golden Rule must never be taken as a prescription for subjective relativism. Our world takes Christ’s statement out of context and twists it to mean we can do as we want. But Jesus is not advising us to act as we see fit by and of ourselves. Taken with the prior verses in mind, we understand Jesus to mean that our Father is ever mindful and always responds to our limitations, faulty worldviews and brokenness out of His love and grace. Consequently – as our Father does, so we His children ought to do. 

This was not a new thought to the disciple of God. Long ago, Moses heard God’s Voice and wrote down the same directive, “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Moreover, “Parallels to this saying abound in the ancient world, in both Jewish and other sources. One of the best known formulations is the response allegedly given by Jesus’ contemporary, Hillel, when asked to summarize the Torah while standing on one foot: “Whatever is displeasing to you, do not do to your neighbor; that is the entire Law, and everything else is interpretation.” Of course, Hillel’s version is a negative expression of the same thought, whereas Jesus speaks to the positive. But the concept is the same. 

The commonness of this principle should not surprise us because one of the most natural rules of ethics is that a person extrapolates from his or her own worth to that of others, and hence values others as oneself […]; thus every person is morally responsible to recognize how he or she ought to treat every other person.” 

That is true of even those with a secular worldview. The disciple of God recognizes that God has considered them, and loved them, and forgiven them and taught them. So the disciple recognizes both their own worth before God, and the worth of Almighty God whom they represent. With such value in mind, how can we view another – who is also made in His image – as being any less so? Therefore, we are to treat others with the greatest of care, as we ourselves have been treated! 

As God’s people, we are given guidelines throughout Scripture for how to treat others, how to use our words, and how to control our thoughts. Yet we do not do this on our own. God’s Spirit now dwells in us—we are His temple (2 Cor 6:16). And He performs this work in us so that we may live as disciples at all times and in all places.

Aubry Smith

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How will you act as you encounter your next waitress/waiter? When you encounter your next gas station attendant? The cashier at the grocery store? These are all opportunities for them to see Christ in you, and you in Christ. 

Waiting (Mathew 7:9-11)

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Jesus has just taught His followers a principle of prayer: Those who ask  receive, those who seek, find – and those who knock, find the door opened. While the principle speaks to our action in both prayer and attitude, it speaks much more to the character of God. “Receiving stresses gaining a gift; finding focuses on a discovery, as coming upon a bonanza of gold; having a door opened looks at a welcome, or hospitality as when a host extends cordiality to a guest.” God is gracious. He gives of Himself, He allows Himself to be found, He opens His door to all who wish to commune with Him. Such fact in and of itself is wonderful, because such is God. 

Christ now speaks of a deeper and perhaps even more wonderful thing. It is not only that God is so gracious to answer. It is that God is keenly aware of us, and that He loves us and literally treats us as His own sons, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” 

It is routine to hear of stories over the holidays of shoppers fighting to buy a children’s toy. Some parents would rather break the law, sacrifice their dignity and injure their neighbor than miss an opportunity to appease their child. Such a parent may have good intentions, but their actions clearly identify them as evil. Even evil people purpose to bless those they love. But then how much more so does God bless those He loves, when God is the polar opposite of evil? 

This is the most fundamental and yet most easily disregarded aspect of prayer. God is good, gracious, kind and loving. God is aware of us and sees us as His own children. How is it that we could think that God would hear of one of His children asking, or seeking, or knocking, and instead turn a deaf ear? Shall He see their need for a basic resource like bread, and show them only stones? Shall He know their hunger and instead purpose to send them a painful horror? Obviously not, and with such a certainty we must recognize that God answers prayer. Indeed, God’s character is such that those who ask always find Him giving, and such that those who seek Him always discover, and such that He opens His door to all who knock for Him.

To this point the child of God must know that when we are on praying ground (that is,  we have repented of known sin and are seeking to honor Him), and we ask God for that which we truly need or something more of Himself – there are only two possible reasons why God does not answer and more hardship or silence ensues instead. Either God has something better in mind, or we are in the midst of a spiritual war and His answer is merely and temporarily delayed.

When Daniel sought God, he heard nothing for three weeks. Then the angel appeared to him and said, “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days.” 

The prayer of the righteous child of God is always heard, and always responded to. Amen.

No one can tell you how good God is. You have to experience him for yourself.

Richard & Henry Blackaby

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

God is good, and we know this by our experience of Him. Today, be thankful for His character and your experience of His goodness as His child.

Seeking (Matthew 7:7-8)

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Jesus has already spoken once about seeking God. Speaking about our need   for food, drink and clothes, He said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In Matthew 7:7-8, He widens and reiterates that promise. It is not only food and drink and clothing that the disciple of God should expect Him to provide, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Resources such as the basic necessities are only the start of the abundant life in Christ. They are not the goal. To believe that the point of the abundant life is mere supply is to believe that God’s Kingdom is nothing more than a vending machine, and God no more than a parcel delivery service. No one limits their care for their child to strictly material supply and believes they have done well. Children need care, attention and love to mature, not just material things. If we know this, how much more does God know it? 

It is not mere supply when we look to God for more of His Kingdom on earth and more of His will being done in our lives and our community. It is His presence and power when we look for His Spirit’s anointing in the work we do for Him. We need His grace and patience and lovingkindness for others, and much more besides. Yet much of that is not given by edict when we simply ask. He designs instead that we should go far beyond asking. Wanting to see us exercise faith more and more, He purposes that we should seek, and seek diligently! The late AW Pink wrote, “Prayer must not be allowed to induce lethargy in other directions or become a lazy substitute for the putting forth of our energies in other duties. We are called upon to watch as well as pray, to deny self, strive against sin, take unto us the whole armour of God, and fight the good fight of faith.” Indeed, if we limit our prayers to asking, we stunt our growth. The Christ-follower must actively seek, and if that seeking leads to a door, the obedient disciple must not conclude that no further response is forthcoming. To do so is to camp outside and wail at your misfortune, when inside is the party to which you yourself are the guest of honor! 

God is not unaware of His children or their needs. “To him who knocks, the door will be opened.” To come to a closed door is not always to be understood as a “No.” Sometimes it is a “Yes, if you knock.” To this point Pink continues, “The thought suggested to us by this clause is that grace is not to be come at easily. It is as though the earnest asker and diligent seeker is now confronted by a closed door. Even so, says Christ, be not discouraged and dismayed, continue your quest, “knock.” There are times when it seems as though God turns away from us, hides Himself, and we have no access to Him. This is to test our sincerity, to try our earnestness, to put us to the proof as to whether we long for His grace as much as we imagine. If we do, discouragements will only serve to redouble our efforts.” Should they not? Consider again the promise, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” 


God always gives you what you would have asked for if you knew everything that He knows.

Tim Keller

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Be persistent in prayer! Ask, seek and knock.

Ask (Matthew 7:7)

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esus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Effectively, Jesus is encouraging us to a three-fold approach in prayer – to ask, and to seek, and to knock. 

Each of those verbs conveys something of the nature of persistent prayer. While they all speak to the same subject, they all describe a different activity. Asking is not the same as seeking, and seeking is not the same as knocking. Asking is something we do passively. Seeking is something we do actively. Knocking is something we do when we’ve found the right place. Each verb speaks to an action on our part, because action on our part is needed in each case. 

Many can testify of a time when they could not find a needed item. They knew it was in their home, but it seemed to elude their senses. Calling out in frustration for some help, they heard instead a parent or spouse ask, “Have you looked in _______ place?” Sure enough, that is where the missing item was all the time. Likewise, often the first thing God gives in response to our asking is not what we’re asking for on a silver platter, but the ability to find what we are looking for. That is because God expects His people to act toward the answer we are praying for. Indeed, how can we not? To ask God and refuse to also seek is to expect our King and Master to become our butler, and to put ourselves as His master. Far be it from us! 

Besides which, it is of note that Jesus does not say ask OR seek OR knock. The exhortation is to do all three. Matthew Henry once noted, “We must not only ask but seek; we must second our prayers with our endeavors; we must, in the use of the appointed means, seek for that which we ask for, else we tempt God.” The Christ-follower has an obligation to go beyond merely asking. To ask and not to bother seeking is only suitable for those who simply cannot seek. The prisoner chained to the wall cannot seek the way out of the dungeon. They must ask to be released first. But the disciple who is living with freedom must do more than ask. For them, to merely ask and expect the answer to be delivered on some kind of platter is both immature and arrogant. It is fitting for the maturing disciple to learn to trust God enough to expect the answer as well as trust Him to open their eyes as they look for it. As Mr. Henry went on to say, “God gives knowledge and grace to those that search the scriptures, and wait at Wisdom’s gates; and power against sin to those that avoid the occasions of it.” 

How true that is! Those who look exclusively to themselves and others for answers will find nothing but limitation, fault and brokenness. But those who seek first God and His Kingdom find not only Him, but every good and profitable thing besides! 

That is because God is a good Father to His children. He is always faithful to be found when we seek Him and His purposes with all our hearts. In fact, Jesus is really just rewording what the prophet Jeremiah noted long before when he recorded God’s intention for His people, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  


It’s easy to give up on dreams, give up on miracles, give up on promises. We lose heart, lose patience, lose faith. And like a slow leak, it often happens without us even knowing it until our prayer life gets a flat. […] The reason many of us give up too soon is that we feel like we have failed if God doesn’t answer our prayer. That isn’t failure. The only way you can fail is if you stop praying.

Mark Batterson

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What are you needing today? Have you asked God for it? Have you sought His advice about it? Have you courageously knocked on the door He showed you?

Encouragement (Matthew 7:7)

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Jesus has already spoken of what it means to ask in His sermon. Just before  He taught  His followers how to pray, He said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” So when He now says, “Ask and it will be given to you,” He is firstly and foremost speaking about asking God, not asking others. 

One might not think we need encouragement to ask God. We are all so limited, so broken and so faulty that our shortcomings would seem as obvious as daylight and as often as the day is long. Yet we do need that encouragement. For we are very prone to believe that we can be entirely self-sufficient – or at least enough that we don’t need to ask just now. All the same, God can give all things, and there are things that only God can give. So to ask Him is never inappropriate. He is the one who made us, who designated our abilities and who created everything – to ask Him even before we seek for what we need is fitting to who we are, in light of who He is. 

Especially so when one considers His character: He is generous. Always has been. Always will be. He gives to those who ask. He gives us His forgiveness. He gives us His grace. He gives us His Spirit. He gives us peace, life and joy. He gives us all things. For every time we ask, He has opportunity to both exercise His own character, and opportunity to glorify Himself in our asking and our thanks at His answer. To ask is to recognize Him as our God, and recognize ourselves as His people in need of Him. 

So Jesus encourages us, “Ask and it will be given to you….”

Like the phrase, “Do not judge”, “Ask and it will be given” is something we often take out of context. People have used the phrase to build a philosophy that can be summarized as “name it, claim it”. Such a philosophy reduces God Most High to a personal Santa Claus. Preachers who ought to know better have used it to expect ever larger homes and even more expensive personal jets. But the context of the behavior Jesus is encouraging in Matthew 7:7 is not one of uncorking the genie in a bottle. Nor is it one of making ourselves even more comfortable. Instead, it is a statement made in context of living a radically God-centred life. The whole Sermon on the Mount is about living the Christ-life – a life acutely aware of God our Father, and aware that God our Father is acutely aware of us. One must not loose that context when we hear Christ’s words, or when we quote His exhortations.

Jesus also said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” Our asking must be with the intention of remaining in Christ – in His service and in His Name and for the Father’s glory. Our asking cannot be the kind of me-centred selfishness that unbelievers pursue every day of their lives. Such shortsighted idolatry is not appropriate for any made in God’s image, let alone for His people. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to ask God for what we need to remain in Christ – in His service and in His Name and for the Father’s glory. The child of God who seeks to honor God ought to lack for nothing in their quest for Him and His Kingdom.

Let us then always be about asking, and let us always be asking for Him, His purposes, His mission and His glory, remembering that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Amen.

Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it.

Matthew Henry

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What do you need right now to grow God’s Kingdom? Are you asking God for it today?

Pearls (Matthew 7:6)

Jesus has been teaching about reliance on God. He said that we should not   worry about our lives, about what to eat or drink, or what we should wear, but rather instead focus on our Father’s Kingdom and His righteousness. 

We can all recognize each other falling short in these regards, but He also tells us not to judge each other. Returning to His main theme (of focus on God first, God always), Jesus makes an interesting statement, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

It is easy to pick that statement out of context and spiritualize the daylight out of it. But that would be unfair to the Lord who gave it to us in context. To see the truth and value of Jesus’ statement we need to see it in the context in which He gave it to us, and that context is teaching about the mundane things of life (eating and drinking and clothing), our penchant to misapply what God teaches (the plank in our eye) and the priority of God and His Kingdom (seek first).

The food we eat and the water we drink without thinking can be helpful in replenishing our energy, but on account of its dedication to God, the food and drink we thank God for at every meal is actually sacred. After all, it is not (ideally) made as an exercise in utility or as an exercise in vanity. It is prepared specifically that it should be brought in to someone made in the image of God (and as we later find out, our bodies are actually temples of the Holy Spirit – for the Bible teaches, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…”). It is paid for and then sacrificed explicitly for the use of God’s people. Consequently, the effort, expense and care to prepare food and drink should be understood as doing something to purposefully advance God’s Kingdom. Indeed, doing anything less is not unlike taking sacred food and giving it to street dogs. They care nothing for the effort put into it, or the meaning or intention of the meal they are fed. Street dogs only greedily snap it up without consideration, and when it is gone and their appetites inflamed, they snap at the hands that fed them, “Do not give dogs what is sacred… If you do, they may …then turn and tear you to pieces.” And anyone who has worked hard to serve a meal to an ungrateful individual can testify to that. 

Likewise, the clothing we buy to cover and protect our bodies is useful and helpful. What then of the watches, earrings, belts and other jewelry we wear? Jesus notes that the cost and intention is again best set toward God’s Kingdom, not toward personal vanity. It should not be squandered merely to impress pagans. That’s like throwing expensive jewelry to pigs. What do they care for it? “Do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet.” And anyone who has specifically picked out clothes to impress others (perhaps at a party of some kind) only to later find those same people mocking them knows exactly what that feels like. 

Of course, Jesus isn’t saying that the mundane parts of life (like eating and drinking and wearing clothes) are unimportant, or that the daily small decisions we make about such things needs to be a matter of intense prayerful discernment. Far from it. But He is telling us that the effort, cost and consideration given to every matter of life should purposefully advance the Kingdom of God and His righteousness – either within us or around us. 

One commentator noted, “Jesus is once again commending a radically theocentric vision of life.” Our lives are created by Him, sustained by Him and redeemed by Him. Our lives must therefore be about honouring Him, always and in all ways. The disciple’s life in all ways must reflect the master, so Jesus would have us to live radically God-centred lives. Amen.

We express our belief system in the daily decisions we make and the behaviors in which we engage.

Knute Larson

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Is there thankfulness to God in your heart as you prepare your daily meals? As you eat them? As you clean up afterward? Are you grateful for His provision as you pick out what to wear each day and as you do laundry?

Sawdust (Matthew 7:3-5)

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Jesus continues to build His case for avoiding foolish summary judgments of  other  people, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

CS Keener said, “A splinter or wood chip in one’s eye might render one blind, but a plank imbedded in one’s eye would certainly render one blind.” Anyone who has ever had a speck of sawdust in one’s eye can testify that it makes seeing painful if not impossible. How much more a plank? The hyperbole makes the mental image rather amusing, but the spiritual implication is anything except humorous. Keener argues that Christ’s point is that rationalizing away one’s guilt just blinds yourself. It does not help to point out another sins or to speak critically of them when you yourself have the bigger problem of refusing to even recognize your sin. It is a case of a totally blinded person promising to help someone who is almost blinded. Rather than ease the other’s discomfort, it is likely that irreparable damage will be done. That to both parties too, for the Law said, “Cursed is the man who leads the blind astray on the road.” 

Yet Jesus is not arguing against trying to help others overcome sin or see their own folly. He is not telling His disciples to ignore each other’s plight, but that we must, “first take the plank out of [our] own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Jesus’ comments indicate that our priority is to be our own spiritual vision – our own walk with God  – SO THAT we can help others. “Once we have dealt with our own sins, we are then in a position gently and lovingly to confront and try to restore others who have erred.

Of course, it does little good to take a plank out of our own eye and leave a handful of specks/splinters behind. Indeed it has been noted that, “It is easy to try to help a brother with his faults just so we can cover up our own sins! People who are constantly criticizing others are usually guilty of something worse in their own lives.” 

To truly help others we need perfectly clear vision, and to that point it must be recognized that our spiritual vision and the clarity of that vision is not as an end in itself. We are never freed from spiritual blindness just so we can enjoy a better life, and to think that we are blessed solely for our own enjoyment or that 

 is to have a rather large speck still embedded in our retina. Our spiritual vision is so that we can help others as our Father helps us. For God had said, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”  This is exactly what Jesus Himself was doing. In His very first sermon, He testified, “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind.”

Those who have dealt with their sin, who have been forgiven, who have been filled with the Holy Spirit, who are walking daily with Christ – cannot simply leave others to go their way. We have a holy obligation to help, but to do so gently and with much grace. As Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” 


Our own sins ought to appear greater to us than the same sins in others.

Matthew Henry

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Ensure your eyes are clear of obstacles before helping others ‘see clearly’.  

Judging Rightly part 2 (Matthew 7:1-2)

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There is a reason Jesus doesn’t want us to summarily condemn others, and His reason   goes far beyond the simple fact that we ought not to speak negatively of that which God has made, or lay a curse against a potential or actual brother or sister. He said,  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  

God our Father has integrity. He does not say something and then do the opposite Himself. Likewise, our Father does not judge against that which He excuses Himself on. Of course, He has no need to excuse Himself, because He has integrity and does not act apart from it. In fact, He is the epitome of integrity, having had it, having it now, and knowing that He will have it forever. Scripture affirms God, “does not change like shifting shadows.” It is therefore fitting, appropriate and even necessary for His children to be like Him in also having integrity. 

To judge another for a sin (or a perceived sin), is to recognize that such deserves judgment. Even if we had no sin of our own at all, to pass sentence on another for their failure before God is to assume God’s seat as judge – and what manner of prideful assumption is that? But much worse, for us to do so while holding a place in our hearts for sin is to actually admit that we likewise should be judged. We might not recognize our own error without a lot of self-reflection, but God is “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” and He does recognize it. Our lack of integrity is not fooling him, even if it fools all around us. Even if it fools us ourselves! The result is that His own integrity comes into play – for how can He allow us to judge another while at the same time expecting Him to excuse us? God could only do that if He lacked integrity. Far be it from Him to treat His children unfairly! The judge of all the earth will always do rightly, so Jesus teaches, “in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

The saddest thing is that people Jesus was speaking to at the time knew this well. “Many a time, the Rabbis warned people against judging others. ‘He who judges his neighbour favourably’, they said, ‘will be judged favourably by God.’ They laid it down that there were six great works which brought credit in this world and profit in the world to come—study, visiting the sick, hospitality, devotion in prayer, the education of children in the law, and thinking the best of other people. The Jews knew that kindliness in judgment is nothing less than a sacred duty.” 

Yet many of them did not practice kindliness in judgment. If they did, Jesus would not have had to make this point. But that He makes it so forcefully is a clear warning to every disciple of God – both the crowd listening at the time and us who are called by His Name thousands of years later.  

When faced with the choice between grace and judgment, the disciple of God must always choose grace! It is what we would want for ourselves. It is what God has already demonstrated for us, and it is the very least we can do for others made in His image.


The whole reckoning of absolution depends upon faith and repentance. And these two things elude the knowledge of a man when he has to pass sentence upon another man.

John Calvin

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Be grateful that God has not judged us as our sins deserve. Being full of thanksgiving for that, do likewise for others. 

Judging Rightly (Matthew 7:1)

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The pithy statement, “Do not judge,” has become a mantra in a world both unwilling to own up to fault, and unable to discern the simplest matters. “The call not to judge has made its way deeply into popular imagination: ‘Who am I to judge?’ Unfortunately the applications people often make … probably have little to do with the intention of either Jesus or the Gospel writers. In a postmodern context there can be a siren call to a radical pluralism.”  

Jesus’ command, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” is anything but a call to radical pluralism. He is not suggesting we set aside discernment. In fact, in the context of that statement in Matthew 7:1, Jesus has just spent a great deal of time explaining to His followers how to better discern the intention of the Law! It should be clear that Jesus is not dismissing the need for a judiciary, either. The judge of all the earth would never say no one should be held accountable. So, it is not the practice of choosing between right and wrong or between better and best that Jesus is setting aside in this command. He is instead commanding us not to pass sentence. The Greek word Jesus uses here – in fact, “the whole word group…is used overwhelmingly for the eschatological judgment of God.” It is not discernment, but the practice of condemnation of another that Jesus speaks against. 

God created the world in just 6 days. He did that by speaking it into existence. And He created us in His image and afforded us power and authority over the rest of physical creation. Consequently, our words also have power. Obviously not the power of creation or authority over time and space as God’s words do, for He is God and we are most definitely not. But our words still carry a certain weight, and we recognize that every time someone says “I give you my word.” Yet if that is true for all people, then for God’s people’s all the more; for we are alive spiritually as well as physically. Moreover, Christ gave us His authority to expand His Kingdom. Therefore, when we glibly pass sentence of our own accord (that is, without Scriptural support for saying so), by saying, “You’ll never amount to much,” or “You are a loser,” or “You fate is certainly to burn in hell,” we are effectively condemning a person God made in His image for His glory. Someone for whom Jesus suffered on the cross.

Such talk has no place coming from the mouth of a child of God. Jesus already warned us against this in Matthew 5:22, “anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” God takes His Word seriously, and we should take our words seriously too.

All the more so considering the context that Jesus gives us His command not to judge. 

Remember that Jesus had just said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” The disciple of Christ must know we will never find or bring about His Kingdom by speaking what is effectively a curse over that which God has made for His glory and one He may yet redeem. Rather, our role in regard to others made in His image is to do all we can to plant and grow God’s Kingdom within them – not the polar opposite. To this point James later said, “From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”

The disciple of God must never curse others. It is given to us to judge past behaviour that cannot be changed, but it is not given to us to pass sentence on that which might yet be completely altered by the grace of God. Amen.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

the Apostle Paul (from Romans 12:14)

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Look for opportunities today to lift people up by your words, to speak God’s peace and grace upon them and to in all ways honor Christ before them. 

Seeing Clearly (Matthew 6:22-24)

Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash

Jesus is preaching His Sermon on the Mount, addressed to both His  disciples and the  crowd gathered there. As such, and in consideration of their relatively simple lives, He often speaks using metaphors and analogy. Such tools allow that deep truths and complex ideas can be articulated succinctly without the need for prior education, big words or a lengthy introduction. Now teaching about the use of money, He once again expresses a most profound truth using simple imagery, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” 

We know that the eye is simply a lens and gatherer of light, but the people of His day believed that the eye was an actual source of light. So His metaphor has a more solid landing in their thinking then ours, even though what He said more accurately lines up with modern science – light does enter the eye and ‘illumine’ the body (if we take the body as the mind). But the imagery Jesus uses actually transcends a modern human understanding of physics. He uses a metaphor for a metaphor to explain something that would otherwise take many days to explain, and the result is that we can innately grasp what He is saying, “As the lamp is an image for the eye, so the eye in turn is an image for the human capacity to absorb from what is available externally.” 

In other words, what Jesus is teaching is only grasp-able by those who can think straight – those who “have light coming into their bodies,” so to speak. Others, who have “bad eyes” – and so cannot grasp Jesus’ profound truth – are left completely in the dark as to what He is saying and completely unable to apply that truth in any capacity whatsoever. One must therefore understand that Jesus is not just hinting at something. He is raising the stakes on the value of what He is teaching. In fact, He is raising a huge red flag over it. He is telling us that we will completely miss the point if we are not very careful, and our lostness on that point will be severe. 

Certainly that can apply to the entire Sermon. But if so, how much more so His teaching on money? For immediately prior to talking about lamps, eyes and light, Jesus was saying, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Immediately after talking about lamps, eyes and light, Jesus says, “You cannot serve both God and Money.” The metaphor within a metaphor He uses cannot therefore be understood merely as a tool to communicate an erudite thought. It is a flag. It is a flare. A spotlight even, to tell us that our love of money will cloud our thinking and greatly diminish our spiritual insight. 

That is because while we sit and listen to Jesus preaching, our minds are illuminated and clear. But if we do not park our thoughts on what He has just told us, the moment we turn back to normal daily life the pressures and concerns of that daily life will completely overshadow what He just taught. Therefore let us be wise. Let us be of sound mind. Let us think clearly. And let us remember that the economy of God is not built on fiat currency, or on stocks and bonds, or on derivatives and debt, or on real estate or on private equity, or on silver and gold. It is built on gift and sacrifice for His glory.

And that idea we can take to the bank. Amen.

The undivided eye is singularly focused on eternal things; storing up treasures in heaven. The person with a good eye serves only God, not money. Since they are undivided in their commitment to God, they are also generous with their money in responding to the needs of the kingdom.

Alan P. Stanley

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What will you do today to ensure your eyes are good?