Living the Golden Rule #2345

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NKJV).

Kingdom citizens are the Father’s children who receive “good things” from His hand in answer to our childlike prayers (Matt. 7:7-11). Whether we are falsely judged or suffer any other ill-treatment, God’s children do not “return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9). The Law and the Prophets taught Israel to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; Isa. 1:21-23). Solomon’s proverb reminded them (and us) not to deal with others out of vengeance or to “settle the score.” He wrote, “Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work’” (Prov. 24:29). This “Golden Rule” urges every disciple of Jesus to look inward before acting outwardly. Our words and treatment of others should reflect how we want others to treat us. For example, our judgments will be righteous, not hypocritical (Matt. 7:1-5). We will love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us for our faith (Matt. 5:43-48). We will turn the other cheek and not retaliate (Matt. 5:38-42). We will recall our Father treats us with all kindness, mercy, and love. And in turn, we will reflect the nature of our Father by giving “good things” to others (Matt. 7:11-12).

Ask, Seek, and Knock #2344

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8, NKJV).

Jesus does more than suggest we pray to the Father for His blessings. The verbs ask, seek, and knock are in the imperative mood, expressing commands. Each action increases in intensity and fervor. Lenski commented, “We ask for what we need; we seek what we earnestly desire; we knock when our desire becomes importunity” (Matthew, 292-293). Furthermore, Christ promises the Father will respond favorably to His children’s pleadings (“will be given,” “will find,” and “it will be opened to you”). Arguing from the lesser to the greater, Jesus went on to assure us that if earthly fathers provide “good gifts” to their children when asked, our heavenly Father will “gives good things” to His children when we entreat Him (Matt. 7:9-11). As children depend on their parents for life’s necessities, Christians rely on our Father in heaven to give us what we truly need. Our trust is not misplaced. Our Father hears and responds to our fervent pleadings. So ask, seek, and knock. Live by faith, and “all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:32-33).

Don’t Give Pure and Precious Things to Dogs and Swine #2343

Jesus has warned us not to judge lest our unrighteous measure of judgment condemns us (Matt. 7:1-2). Jesus forthrightly judged (condemned) hypocritically judging others while ignoring ourselves (Matt. 7:3-5). James reinforced this truth, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Jesus went on to imply we must judge several things: (1) What is holy and what are pearls, and (2) Who are dogs and swine. Holy things are pure, blameless, and set apart to God and His service. Your pearls would be your precious things. The gospel, salvation, faith, and heavenly treasures are among the holy and valuable things we judge to be great treasures. Dogs and swine were unclean under the Law of Moses and used by Christ as figures of impure, contemptible character and conduct (cf. Deut. 23:18; 2 Kings 8:13). But the dogs and swine in this passage have two legs, not four. So, take care to live holy and not defile yourself with evil companions (1 Cor. 15:33). Judge error from the truth and avoid the “dogs” who hold God’s truth in contempt and with their false doctrines (Phil. 3:2-3). Oh yes, we must judge what is right to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good (Luke 12:57; Rom. 12:9). God’s word of truth is holy. It identifies our pearls, and those whose sin and error identifies them as dogs and swine. Beware. They will turn on you when given a chance. Come out, be separate, and do not touch what is unclean (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1).

Twigs and Logs #2342

3 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3–5, NKJV).

Jesus did not forbid seeing someone’s fault or helping to remove the problem. Mature Christians try to restore fellow Christians overtaken in sin (Gal. 6:1-2). When Christians strays from the truth, we try to turn them from their error and save them from death (James 5:19-20). In today’s text, Christ’s rebukes fixing our attention on the speck in someone’s eye (a dry stalk or twig, straw, chaff; figuratively, a small fault) while failing to perceive our plank (a beam; figuratively, a glaring error). All of us have flaws and faults we ought to perceive and address. And we should be ready to help each other overcome our failings. To do so, we must not be hypocrites who quickly see others’ deficiencies while having a distorted vision of our own. The apostle exposes the hypocrisy of such judging, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God (Rom. 2:1-3)?” We can help others remove their speck after first considering and removing our plank.   

“With What Judgment You Judge, You Will Be Judged” #2341

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1–2, NKJV).

Jesus contrasted the righteousness of the kingdom with the scribes and Pharisees (who broke the commands of God with their traditions and taught others to do so, Matt. 5:19-20; 15:3; 23:1-2). He judged them to be hypocrites for this conduct (Matt. 15:3-9; 23:23). To conclude from today’s passage that we can never make judgments about right and wrong, good and evil, is absurd (Rom. 12:9). Otherwise, Jesus Himself is a hypocrite for judging the scribes and Pharisees to be hypocrites. In truth, Jesus is warning us against making hypocritical judgments (Matt. 7:3-5). Righteousness in the kingdom compels us not to judge others rashly, prejudicially, vindictively, and hypocritically (Matt. 6:33). When we judge unrighteously, we hinder conflict resolution, prevent forgiveness, and fail to love others as God does (Matt. 5:21-26; 6:14-15; 5:43-48). When we do so, we can expect to be judged (condemned) for our ill-conceived judgments. Jesus challenges us to “judge what is right” (Luke 12:57; John 7:24). His judgments are “true and righteous altogether” (cf. Ps. 19:9). Let us follow Christ’s example of making righteous judgments by using the proper standard (God’s revealed truth) with the proper motive (to seek the Father’s will) (John 5:30). God will judge us for the judgments we make (Luke 6:37-38). Avoid exposing yourself to condemnation by judging unrighteously.

“Do Not Worry About Tomorrow” #2340

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, NKJV).

Jesus has given us multiple reasons not to be drawn away from the righteousness of the kingdom in Matthew 6:25-33) by temporal cares, including (1) Our value to the Father (Matt. 6:25-26), (2) Worrying does not improve our condition (Matt. 6:27), (3) God proves He provides for His creation, so trust Him to provide our needs (Matt. 6:28-31); and (4) God knows our needs (so seek first His kingdom and righteousness, unlike the Gentiles who do not know God, Matt. 6:32-33). Finally, today’s passage assigns distracting cares (which take us away from kingdom righteousness) to the uncertainty of tomorrow (Matt. 6:34). We have today, with no promise of tomorrow. Therefore, address today’s problems; Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow that may not come at all. The answer to anxiety is not detachment from personal responsibility. The resolve to meet daily duties with the focus of faith that relies on Him (“if the Lord wills,” James 4:15) replaces worry with contentment. The most important things to those who follow Jesus are the heavenly treasures that endure long after our physical life with its needs have ended. God provides for our needs on earth. How much more abundant are the eternal treasures He gives us in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Do not worry; Have faith in God. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and your reward will be far greater physical goods (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness #2339

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31–33, NKJV).

Jesus drives to the heart of the matter. When physical goals and concerns consume us, we start asking the wrong questions. Worry (anxious care) distracts us from God, who knows and supplies our needs. When we seek (crave intensely) physical needs (food, drink, and clothing) before and instead of spiritual needs (the kingdom of God and His righteousness), we are like the faithless Gentiles (those who have no hope and are without God in this world, Eph. 2:11-12). Our primary craving must be the rule and reign of God in our lives and righteousness by faith through the gospel of Christ. We trust God to give us the things that are necessary for our temporary journey on earth. At times we struggle to keep these spiritual priorities in place. The world presses us to conform to its values and expectations. Let us be strengthened in faith and trust the Lord to provide our daily bread as we live for eternal things that will not pass away (Ps. 37:25-26; 2 Cor. 4:17-18).

Consider the Lilies of the Field #2338

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith” (Matthew 6:28–30, NKJV)?

Christ appealed to people’s reasoning ability when He preached the gospel of the kingdom. For instance, reason compels us to understand that life is more valuable than food and the body more important than clothing (Matt. 6:25). In today’s passage, Jesus challenged His audience to think about the world around them. He encouraged them to have greater faith in the presence and provisions of God to care for His world, evidenced by the flowers and grass. To build our faith in God and eliminate doubtful, distracting anxieties, we are to trust God will provide the clothing we need to cover and warm our bodies. See how He clothes the lilies of the field (v. 28-29)! Though short-lived, God arrays the grass with splendor (v. 30). Therefore, He will undoubtedly clothe you and me. Our faith weakens when we become consumed with temporary things. Instead, trust and depend on the living God who made you and sustains your life. Keep your focus on faith and not on things that fade away.

“Do Not Worry About Your Life” #2337

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing” (Matthew 6:25–28a, NKJV)?

Our heart reveals our treasures, our vision reveals the light we follow, and our service reveals our master (Matt. 6:21-24). These principles form the basis of Christ’s extended passage on trusting our heavenly Father to provide for our daily needs (Matt. 6:25-34). We express this trust as we pray, “give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). We affirm our faith that God will do so by refusing to yield to anxiety over daily necessities. Anxiety distracts and debilitates us from laying up heavenly treasures and serving God (“seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” Matt. 6:33). Please note, Jesus discusses necessities of life (food and clothing), not luxuries (the pursuit of which contributes to increased anxiety). Our goal is a contented faith that refuses to be distracted. First, consider God’s constant care of the birds. He feeds the birds, and we are far more valuable than birds (Lk. 12:24). Therefore, recalling this helps us avoid being disturbed and diverted from faithfully following God. Second, worry does not accomplish anything productive. It cannot increase our height, and it cannot provide for our needs. Anxiety is futile, fruitless, weakening our faith in God’s constant care and provisions. Trust the Lord; He provides for our needs.

Which Master Do You Serve? #2336

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, NKJV).

We are all devoted to something or someone, and submit ourselves to our master’s power over us. Even “masters”  have a master (Matt. 8:9; Col. 4:1). Here, Jesus calls our attention to the master we choose to serve. And make no mistake; We choose one master over the other. Divided loyalties are not realistic; We cannot serve two masters. Jesus poses a contrast between serving God or mammon (from Aramaic, “riches, wealth”). Jesus just taught us to lay up treasures in heaven. Now, He identifies our master by whom or what we serve. Does gaining wealth drive your passions, enthusiasm, and values? Your master is mammon when material prosperity is the primary mover of your decisions. Conversely, does pleasing God (doing His will) have top priority in how you work, play, and live? We ought to honestly assess which master we choose. Jesus will go on to say we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” instead of being consumed with the cares of this age that distract and destroy faith (Matt. 6:33-34; Mark 4:19). We cannot bow before the altar of material riches without despising God (who blesses us with life itself and the provisions that sustain our lives). To “live by faith in the Son of God,” we must crucify ourselves and be utterly loyal to Him (Gal. 2:20). God must be our master. Choose to serve God today and every day.

“And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)