Good morning everybody. I pray that you have all had a wonderful week. These past couple of weeks I have been spending time in the presence of our Lord listening to what He has for me and us as a His Church. I praise the Lord that I have a support pastor in Pastor Kevin that I can rely on during these couple of weeks and I pray that you have been blessed in the Word that you have heard. These next three weeks we are going to close off the Sermon on the Mount and because not too long ago we covered a good portion of chapter 6 on the Lord’s prayer, today we are going to press on to chapter 7 so that we can finish before Easter.
So today we going to dig into three spiritual concepts as believers. The first is a calling to not judge, the second is spiritual awareness and the third is a calling to search after the heart of God in the form of asking, seeking and knocking. Each of these elements are critical elements to a blessed life, but unfortunately these truths are often not engaged in the life of the believer. So this morning as we go through this passage, I would ask that you consider ways in which these truths can be actively realized in your life.
Scripture – Matthew 7:1-12
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “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? 4 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? 5 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.6 “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 turn and tear you to pieces.
Ask, Seek, Knock
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 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! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Engaging the Word
A Godly Vision
Here in this first passage of scripture we see that our Lord calls us to not judge those around us; for the measure that we use upon those around us will also be used upon us. Our Lord then tells us to pay attention to the log within our own eye before we spend all of our time focused upon the speck within our brother or sister’s eye. As I was considering this passage it became immediately apparent that we need to understand the substance of this passage and not just consider this passage as the focal instruction for which other scripture should be considered in context of. For instance, how do we as believers look at this passage of scripture and place it within the context of Matthew 18:15 where it says that “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” I will say that many believers do not live out the context of Matthew 18, however if we were how are we not to judge, yet be able to point out the spiritual faults in our brothers and sisters. So, what does it mean to be spiritually sharpening as a believer without embracing the spirit of judgement upon those around us.
In this world, today and particularly in the church itself, it is evident that we see judgment evidenced. From the worldly perspective where we see the TV shows (TMZ or Access Hollywood) of individuals that stand around and judge what celebrities say, what they wear and how they act. We look at this and easily comment what a terrible world we live in. However, if we carefully consider the judgment that exists within the church itself it is evident that we have just as big a problem within the walls of any church. Church members are quick to criticize what a person wears, what a person says or even how people act. From those that feel that an individual should or should not wear jeans in the church, or those that feel we lose our significance to the culture around us when we wear a suit and tie. We even get bent out of shape sometimes when new comers inadvertently sit in our seats. So how can we as believers focus upon the log in our own eyes before we address the specks within our brothers and sisters?
The first key to embracing this truth in our life is the act of embracing spiritual honest and humility. As too often sinful beings we are quick to focus upon the faults of those around us. From how people dress to what people do and don’t do. I used an example in the Holiness class a few weeks ago, where I illustrated a true story of a pastor who had accepted a calling to be a missionary in Africa but was confronted by the nakedness evident within the region. His focus was so ardent upon this issue that he desired to cover up all of the Africans because he felt it was wrong before God to be walking around half naked. Unfortunately, this gentleman had focused so much upon the way others were, that he failed to see that it was his struggle with nakedness or lust that had caused him to strike out at those who knew no better. The truth that is evidenced in this story and this passage of scripture is that too often we judge those around us because we fail to see the sin that lies within our own hearts or we desire to take the focus off of these elements in our own lives. As John Scott put it, “we have a fatal tendency to exaggerate the faults of others and minimize the gravity of our own.”
Here in this passage of scripture our Lord is not condemning all spiritual criticism, rather just the criticism of those around us when we don’t exercise no comparable self-criticism. Our Lord is not telling us to avoid correction, rather he is telling us to address correction in our own lives before we go to correct others within their lives. We are called not be harsh and condemning, nor hypocritical blaming others while excusing ourselves, but a brother or sister that cares for their fellow brothers and sisters searching after oneness in Christ first for oneself and then for those around us. It is here when we embrace this truth in our life that we experience a blessed life. A blessed life that is not focused upon the judgement of this world and sin, but is rather focused upon the Godly experience.
Next in this passage of scripture our Lord that we are not to give what is holy to the dogs nor are we to give our pearls to the pigs. Why does our Lord speak this way? Surely our Lord would have that none should perish but that all would have eternal life? Yes, our Lord would love that all would seek salvation however not all desire salvation. Yes, our Lord desires that all would receive eternal life, but the truth is many desire eternal damnation. If you would tell me that this is not true, I would point out that there are songs sung about it. Songs like “Highway to Hell” and “I did it my way”. These are mere illustrations that men and woman too often, even faced with the truth that is Jesus Christ, choose not to follow but choose their way. We as believers sometimes do this to somewhat of a lesser degree choosing not to receive the promise that lies before us in God’s truth but choose our way. Those who are in the world just chose damnation on a bigger scale and those pearls that are given are lost forever. This is a hard truth to understand a believer but one that we are called to embrace across all scripture. In Proverbs 9:7-10, the word tells us that “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” As verse 8 illustrates we are called not to rebuke the spiritual mockers but those who are wise in the Lord. Who are the wise in the Lord? These are those who respond to the truth of our Lord. These are those who listen and act upon His call. These are those who embrace honest and humility in Christ. These are those who experience a blessed life.
The Good Things of God
In the final portion of this text we see that our Lord calls us to ask, he calls us to seek and he calls us to knock. It is in that, that we will see as it says in verse 11 the “good things of God”. It is very evident throughout all scripture that we are called to before the throne of our Lord for that which we need. However why is this important in the life of the believer? Even in the previous chapter, in verse 8 it is illustrated by our Lord that He knows what we need before we even ask. So why is it important to ask, to seek, to knock?
Let’s consider it this way. If you have children or even as a child yourself, each of us quickly learn the truth that is experienced in searching after need. As a child, what does one do when you need something? First you would call out to your mother or father. If they don’t respond then you will go about the process of searching after your mom or dad so that you can ask them for that which you need. If you find them in a room somewhere, where the door is closed you then knock so that you can get their attention so that the desires of your heart might be heard. So, it is with us as children of God, we are called to embrace these escalating steps of faith so that we can experience all that He desires to give us.
Our Lord is not one who does not love his children. He knows what we are needing before we even ask, the process of asking, seeking and knocking is the journey that we are called to experience so that we might be open to his goodness. You see it is not a matter of whether our Lord is ready to give to us, but rather it is a matter of whether we are ready to receive that which He has to give. When Jacob prevailed with God, it was not that God was being held by Jacob, rather it was God waiting for Jacob to realize his need. It was God waiting for Jacob to surrender so that He could receive the blessing, the goodness that was waiting. As James tells us in James 4:2 we do not receive because we do not ask. Asking is not the process of casual prayer or a prayer chain email, it is constant, it is earnest, it is humble, it is persistent, it is open handed and open hearted. It is here that we can experience the fullness, the goodness of God.
It is not about the answer that we will receive, it is about the fullness of God. Too often mankind is overwhelmed when we don’t get the answer we so desire from God, but as illustrated here in this teaching, what good God would give bad things to his children. Using the illustration of sinful men and women, who even in their sin would not give a stone or serpent, how much more does our Father in Heaven love us? Too often we look to God in his answers that don’t make sense and question his goodness. However, it is in his goodness that he has answered it the way that he has. These truths are sometimes so hard to see or understand because we see just a moment in time but our Lord sees all eternity. It is because our Lord sees all that he answers in ways that we might not understand, and it is because of this that each of us are called to embrace faith and trust in these moments. Our Lord has a purpose, he has a plan, He as a blessed life for each of us if we just see through the eyes of our Lord.
Today, I am going to close off with a personal of searching through the eyes of our Lord. As many of you know I recent purchased a motorcycle which I have been using to commute back and forth to work. Most days when I commute it is a little cool in the morning so I dress warm so that I can brave the elements. This past week I got ready in the morning at about 4:45 am. I put layer after layer of clothing on, got all my gear and then went out to the bike in the garage, got on and began to back out the garage. I got down to the bottom of the driveway when I realized it was either very misty or a little drizzly. Thinking for a moment I decided I would chance the heavy mist, so began the journey of making my way to work. I got on the 37 and carried over the causeway heading towards the racetrack, hoping that what was becoming more and more evident as rain, would stop. This whole time while I have not ridden in the rain, I was wondering how wet I going to by the end of the journey. I was driving very slowly because I was worried I was going to crash, slide etc. About ¾ of the way to the racetrack turnoff, after worrying about what I was facing, frustrated by how wet I was getting, and wishing I had just gone back into the house to get the keys to the car, I finally began to turn my attention to God. So while on the road, in the middle of the pouring rain, I just started praying “Lord right now I am scared, I need your help, can you please stop the rain until I get to work”. In a simple seeking and asking prayer, in that moment the weather forecast changed from raining to clear and perfect. It was in this moment that I realized that is wasn’t about the rain, the wet clothing, it was about seeing things through the eyes of our Lord. I don’t know if I was the only dry one on that road that morning, but I looked to the heavens from where does my help come from in this life. For the rest of journey that morning, I sang over and over “Thank you Jesus”.
Today, if you have come in scared by what you are facing, worried how wet you are getting in this life and you need the hand of God in your life, our Lord is calling you to ask, to seek and to knock. He is waiting to give you all that is good, if you would just look to the heavens from where He is waiting. If you have found yourself searching after the specks in your brothers and sister’s eyes not seeing your own logs, our Lord desires to free you if you will just ask, seek and knock. God’s goodness is waiting for each of us today if we will just turn to his loving goodness and experience all that He desires.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30