Golden Rule on steroids
Careful how you judge people1 “Don’t judge others unfairly, unless you want to get judged that way. 2 The gauge you use to size up others is the gauge that will be used to size you up and down. 3 How is it you can spot the tiniest speck in your brother’s eye, but you can’t seem to see that beam of timber in your own? 4 Where do you get the chutzpah to say to your brother, ‘Hey, brother, let me take that speck out of your eyeball?’ Come on. How can you possibly do that when you can’t see past that plank in your own eyeball? 5 Can you spell ‘hypocrite’? First get that plank out of your own eye and then maybe you’ll be able to see clearly enough to get the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Pigs don’t wear pearls6 Don’t try giving something holy to dogs. They’ll tear you to pieces. Don’t toss your pearls to pigs. They’ll dance them into the dirt.
Ask if you want something7 Ask, and you’ll get. Look, and you’ll find. Knock, and the door will open. 8 Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who looks will find. Everyone who knocks will see a door open up. 9 If your son asked for some bread, would you give him a stone? 10 If he asked for a fish, would you give him a snake? 11 Listen, compared to God you people are downright wicked. But if you wicked humans can give wonderful gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give you?
How to treat others12 Ask yourself what you’d like others to do for you. Then do it for them. That’s the Law and the Prophets summed up in one breath.
Enter here13 Be sure to go through the narrow gate. Don’t go to the wide gate. It takes you down an easy trail to a dead end, where you’ll be destroyed. 14 If you want to live, go through the narrow gate and take the hard trail. It’s the road less traveled. Most folks won’t find it.
Beware: Wolves dressed in wool15 Watch out for frauds who pass themselves off as prophets. They wear wool, pretending they’re sheep. But they have the heart of a starving wolf inside them. 16 You’ll recognize them when you see what they do. People don’t pick grapes from a thorn bush or figs from a cluster of thistles. 17 A good tree gives us good fruit. A bad tree gives us bad fruit. 18 A good tree doesn’t give us bad fruit. And a bad tree doesn’t give us good fruit. 19 When we have a fruit tree that doesn’t give us good fruit, we cut it down and throw it into the fire. 20 You’ll recognize the frauds when you see what kind of fruit they produce.
Some “Christians” don’t go to heaven21 Not everyone who says I’m their Lord will make it into the Kingdom of Heaven. The folks who make it are the ones who act like they belong there; they obey my Father in heaven. 22 There’s coming a day when people will stand in front of me. Many will say, ‘Lord, you’re our master. Didn’t we serve you well? We taught people about you. We performed exorcisms. We did many other miracles.’ 23 Here’s what I’ll tell them. ‘Excuse me, but we’ve never met. You’re no servant of mine. You serve sin. You need to leave now.’
Bad idea: House on sand24 Everyone who hears what I’m teaching and does what I tell them to do is like someone who was smart enough to build a house on bedrock. 25 Rain fell, the streams flooded, and the wind pounded the house. But the house stood firm because it was well-built. 26 But everyone who hears me and doesn’t do what I say is like someone who was dumb enough to build a house on sand. 27 Rain came, the streams flooded, and the wind pounded the house. And the house collapsed into a total loss.” 28 When Jesus stopped talking, the crowd stood amazed at what he had taught them. 29 He spoke with authority—not at all like the Jewish scholars known as scribes.
This is a colorful word picture, but it’s unclear what Jesus was talking about. A popular guess is that the dogs and pigs represented enemies of the Good News message Jesus was delivering about the Kingdom of Heaven. He was saying much the same as he told his disciples when he sent them out on a mission trip: “If anyone refuses to welcome you or to listen to what you have to say—whether it’s a city or a household—shake their dirt off your feet and leave” (Matthew 10:15).
The Law is the body of laws delivered by Moses and preserved in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—especially Deuteronomy, which is a speech Moses gave, shortly before his death, summarizing the Law for the Jews. The Prophets are the Bible books by prophets including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
It was common for Jewish scholars to quote others for support, just as many Bible scholars do today. Jesus wasn’t quoting any rabbis, scribes, or Pharisees.
What do you think Jesus was talking about when he inserted this seemingly random saying into his sermon: “Don’t try giving something holy to dogs. They’ll tear you to pieces. Don’t toss your pearls to pigs. They’ll dance them into the dirt” (7:6)?
Jesus says, “Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who looks will find. Everyone who knocks will see a door open up” (7:8). How would you defend that statement to someone who has been asking and not getting, looking and not finding, knocking and getting no response from high heaven to low Earth?
Jesus seemed to say that the highway to heaven is a treacherous trail with light traffic. “It’s the road less traveled. Most folks won’t find it” (7:14). But the highway to destruction has a wide-open on-ramp, lots of lanes, and plenty of fast-moving traffic. “It takes you down an easy trail to a dead end, where you’ll be destroyed” (7:13). What’s his main point, do you think?
- Avoid the interstate?
- Christianity, at least for the people listening to him at the time, would become a dangerous faith to practice.
- It’s easy to get drawn into the traffic flow of the world.
- It’s important which road we take because one ends in life, the other in death.
Jesus tells the people listening to his sermon that one day folks will stand in front of him and expect to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. These are people who said they served him well. “We taught people about you. We performed exorcisms. We did many other miracles” (7:22). Jesus said he will tell those people, “Excuse me, but we’ve never met” (7:23). What do you think he expected the people listening to do with that?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus advises us not to judge others in a condemning way: “Don’t judge others unfairly, unless you want to get judged that way” (7:1). Is that why? To protect ourselves? Also, how have you noticed people reacting to others who have a habit of beating them up with judgment and condemnation?
LIFE APPLICATION. In condemning hypocrites who judge others, Jesus said, “Where do you get the chutzpah to say to your brother, ‘Hey, brother, let me take that speck out of your eyeball?’ Come on. How can you possibly do that when you can’t see past that plank in your own eyeball?” (7:4). Without naming individuals, unless they’re in the news, when have you recently seen someone condemn another person for doing something the judge does too, and perhaps more flagrantly?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus told folks gathered around him during the Sermon on the Mount that life’s journey would be tough for his followers. Is it tough for us, where we live today?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus said this is the Bible’s main message to people, delivered in one breath: “Ask yourself what you’d like others to do for you. Then do it for them” (7:12). This is known as the Golden Rule. In one breath, how would you describe humanity’s response to the Bible’s main teaching?
LIFE APPLICATION. A good tree gives us good fruit” (7:17). What kind of good fruit have you seen in others lately?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus told the crowd, “Everyone who hears what I’m teaching and does what I tell them to do is like someone who was smart enough to build a house on bedrock” (7:24). For the people listening to this sermon, Jesus seemed to be saying that his teachings were the bedrock. What do you think Christians today consider the bedrock of their faith?