Matthew 7

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 26, 2006

Matthew 7

:1-5 Judge not

:1 Judge not, that you be not judged.

This verse has been greatly abused over the years.  Many people take this verse to mean that we are never to make judgments regarding people, circumstances, or things.  But if you pay attention to how Jesus will teach, you will see that we all will be making judgments about things, but that we better be careful about the kinds of judgments that we make.

judgekrino – This word carries several different definitions, different “flavors”, and many of them are quite appropriate for this passage:

1) to separate, to pick out, select, choose

Be careful how you “separate” things in your head.  Be careful about the kinds of choices you make concerning people.  Be careful of the “categories” you put people into.

2) to approve, esteem, to prefer

Be careful about what kinds of things you “approve” or what kinds of people you “prefer”.

3) to be of opinion, deem, think

Be careful about the “opinions” that you hold.
Sometimes we form ideas or opinions about people that aren’t even close to being accurate.  I’ve had folks come up to me and ask me why I was mad at them – and I didn’t have a clue how they got the idea that I was mad at them.  And I know I’ve felt the same way about others, in a way that wasn’t correct, thinking they were thinking one thing when they weren’t.  I wonder how many of my opinions about people are “off base”.

4) to determine, resolve, decree

Be careful about what kinds of “resolve” you make based on your judgment.

Jesus encountered times when He was “misjudged”.

(John 7:14-24 NKJV)  Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. {15} And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"

This is how things appeared to the Jewish leaders.  They didn’t see the degree hanging on wall of Jesus’ office.  They couldn’t understand how He could be teaching like He taught.

{16} Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. {17} "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. {18} "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

Jesus is saying that the issue of whether or not to accept the things He teaches depends on a person’s heart towards God, not on external things like a college degree.

{19} "Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?"

The people said they revered Moses, yet the reality of it was that they really didn’t appreciate the things of God.  You could tell by their actions, by their disobedience that they weren’t in a place to receive from God.

{20} The people answered and said, "You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?" {21} Jesus answered and said to them, "I did one work, and you all marvel.

Back in John 5, the last time Jesus was in Jerusalem, He had healed a lame man on the Sabbath day.  They marvelled in that they couldn’t believe that Jesus did something contrary to their traditions by healing a man on a Sabbath.

{22} "Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. {23} "If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? {24} "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

The Jewish leaders (just like us) were making judgments on Jesus based on the outward appearance of things.  They had their own “preconceived ideas” about what was right and what was wrong.
But in the process of making up their “preconceived ideas”, they neglected to check with God about what He thought.
Too Many Umbrellas
The story is told of Mr. Jones who picked up the wrong umbrella in a hotel lobby and was about to walk out when the rightful owner called attention to his mistake.  Embarrassed, he offered his apologies. Finding his own, he went on his way.
The incident, however, reminded him that he had promised to buy both his wife and daughter an umbrella.  To his delight he found that a local store nearby had them on sale, so he bought two.  Just as he was getting into his car with his unwrapped purchases, he saw the man he had encountered earlier. He was eyeing him suspiciously.  Seeing the three umbrellas hooked over his arm, the stranger exclaimed sarcastically, “I see you had a good day after all!”  Although Mr. Jones blushed, he was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Things are not always what they seem.  We need to be reminded that our first impressions, even many impressions, may be misleading.

:2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

We see a principle repeated throughout Scripture of sowing and reaping.

(Gal 6:7-10 NKJV)  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. {8} For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

In the area of being a “fleshly” person versus a spiritual one.  If you sow to the flesh, you will reap corruption …

{9} And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. {10} Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

In the area of doing good things for others.  If you keep sowing good deeds towards others, you will one day reap as well.

(Mat 6:14-15 NKJV)  "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In the area of forgiveness.  If you sow forgiveness towards others, you will reap forgiveness from God.

(2 Cor 9:6-8 NKJV)  But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. {7} So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. {8} And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

In the area of giving.  If give as God leads you to give, God will give back to you.

In our passage here, the issue is judgment.  The way we judge others will be the way we find ourselves judged.

If I am a person who is constantly critical and judgmental towards others, don’t be surprised when you find people being critical to you.
On the flip side, if we show “mercy” and grace towards others …
(Mat 5:7 NKJV)  Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Do you want others to be “merciful” to you in judgment?  Then be merciful.

:3 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

speckkarphos – a dry stalk or twig, a straw; chaff; splinter

plankdokos – a beam; a log on which planks in the house rest (so papyri), joist, rafter

The “speck” in the brother’s eye isn’t an unimportant problem.  It hurts when you get something in your eye.  It’s a definite problem.

But the humor is in the person who wants to help.  Their problem is HUGE compared to the problem they’re trying to fix.

: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?

In the previous verse, Jesus simply talks about “looking” at the speck in the brother’s eye.  Here he talks about a person who takes it a step further and actually says something and even offers to remove the speck from the other person’s eye.  Both are wrong.

: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.

Note that both people have something in their eye.

When I become so aware of a problem in another person’s life – I need to be open to asking God and maybe even other people about whether or not I have the same problem.

(Rom 2:1 NKJV)  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.
The saying is, “My sin looks horrible on you”.
Somehow the things we seem to excuse in our own lives are inexcusable in the lives of others.  I have a reason why I’m this way, but for you there’s no excuse.
Sometimes the things that people are most sensitive to are the very things they struggle with.
It’s not uncommon for a person to be vocal against certain sins like pornography, while secretly caught in the same sin.

Perhaps it’s a psychological thing – we take out our own guilt over our sin on others.

If a person struggles with pornography, it’s not wrong to speak out against pornography, it’s all in the way you approach it.

Do you point your fingers in judgment against those sinners caught in this wicked sin?

Or do you warn as one who understands the pain and consequences of getting caught.

Learning to deal with your problem first gives you the qualification to deal with the other person’s problem.

Jesus doesn’t say that we should never help a person remove a speck from their eye.  He says we ought to first be sure to deal with our own problem.

:6 Pearls before swine

:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

holy … dogs – the Jewish person did not consider dogs as a good thing.  They weren’t pets, they were pests.  They were like wild wolves.

What might Jesus be talking about that is holy?  He might be talking about religious articles like earrings or amulets.  He might be talking about the meat that was given to the priests for their service in the Temple.

But the point was that a Jewish person would never give something dedicated to God to something as lowly as a dog.

pearls (greek:  margarites) – I’ve heard some discussion about pearls how pearls might have been “unclean” to a Jew because they came from an unclean food source, the oyster.  But though the oyster was considered unclean, the pearl was not.  Keep in mind that the gates of the New Jerusalem are each made from a giant pearl, a place where no unclean thing can enter.  In the ancient times, pearls were just as valuable to the Jews as they are to us today.  They were still considered a treasure. 

swine – the Jordan valley was inhabited by wild boars – a very dangerous animal.

A boar might think that you were throwing him a piece of food, but when he finds out it is something that he can’t eat, he might turn on you and kill you.

The point?

It seems to me that Jesus is saying that there are some people who fall into the category of “dogs” and “swine”.  Probably not a very “nice” thing to say.  But there are people who will not appreciate or receive the things you might share about the Lord.

We need to be careful though because we may not see everything that is going on inside the person.

Just because a person yells or complains about you being a Christian doesn’t mean they’re a “swine” or a “dog”.  There’s the old Eskimo proverb that says if you throw a rock into the middle of a pack of dogs, the one that yelped the loudest is the one you hit.  In other words, just because a person gives you a hard time about the Lord doesn’t mean that you should stop sharing with that person.

On the other hand, the actual lesson here is that there is a time to stop talking.

Sound cruel?  Sound judgemental?  Look at Jesus' example when He was being questioned by the chief priests about His authority.  Jesus turned the question on them and asked them about the authority of John the Baptist.
(Mat 21:27 NKJV)  So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

He didn’t respond to them.

We need the help of the Holy Spirit to know when to speak and when to be quiet.

Note:  It seems to me that applying this verse requires making “judgments” on people.

:7-11 Keep asking

:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Just as we saw in Luke 11, the idea here is of continual asking, continual seeking, continual knocking.

Don’t give up on prayer.

When you make a commitment to start praying regularly and persistently for certain people or situations, you’re going to go through a time when you wonder why you spend so much time doing something that seems to have no effect.
Don’t quit.  Push through.  Keep praying.  Ask God to refine your prayers.  Ask God to show you if your prayers need to change.

Note:  There is an increase in intensity in this verse.  It moves from “asking” to “seeking” and then to “knocking”.  Perhaps we need to learn about increasing the intensity of our prayers.

:8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

The promise is for the continual asking.

In Luke 11, this teaching follows the parable of the friend coming at midnight asking for bread.  The fellow who was asleep responded because of the persistent asking, not because there was a one time knock on the door.

:9 "Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

:10 "Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?

This is the heart of a typical father.  A father loves his children.

:11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

God is the giver of good gifts.

Some have had much hurt from their father, and this is a difficult verse to swallow.  But God is not like your evil father, God is a good father.

Sometimes we go through great disappointments in life.  We don’t understand why things have been so difficult.  Sometimes we wonder if God could really love us.  But He does.


In The Whisper Test, Mary Ann Bird writes: I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.

When schoolmates asked, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.

There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored—Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy—a sparkling lady.  Annually we had a hearing test. ... Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back—things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?”

I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”  God says to every person deformed by sin, “I wish you were my son” or “I wish you were my daughter.”

You may not always understand it, but God does love you.  He will give good gifts to those who ask Him.

:12  The Golden Rule

:12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

We call this the “Golden Rule”.

The world has a principle of the “Golden Rule”, which says, “He who has the gold, rules”.  That’s NOT what Jesus is talking about.

Here’s a little more of that “sowing and reaping” principle at work.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.


A recently divorced woman is walking along the beach contemplating how badly treated she got in the divorce settlement, when she spies a magic lamp washing up onshore. She rubs the lamp, and out pops a magical genie. The genie notices her anger and lets her vent her troubles to him. As a consolation, the genie informs her that he will give her three wishes. But he cautions her that because he does not believe in divorce, he will give her ex-husband ten times the amount of whatever she wishes. The woman is steaming mad, thinking that this is hardly fair, but she makes her first wish. The first wish was for a billion dollars. The genie grants her wish and she finds herself sitting in pile of one billion one-dollar bills. The genie then reminds her that her husband is now the recipient of 10 billion dollars. The woman can barely contain her anger when she makes her second wish. The second wish was for a beautiful mansion on the shore of her own private beach. In an instant it was granted, but the genie then reminds again that her ex-husband now owns ten of what she wished for, and points out to a small development of ten such mansions down the beach. Upon hearing this, the woman takes her time to contemplate her last wish. Just as the genie was about to give up on her, the woman informs the genie that she wants to make the last wish. But before she can do this, the genie again warns her that her ex-husband will get ten times what she wishes for. “No problem,” said the woman as she grinned in ecstasy. “For my last wish, I’d like to give birth to twins.”
Be careful what you wish for …

How do you want others to treat you?

Mr. Charles Schwab was one of the first men ever to earn a million dollars a year.  Why did Andrew Carnegie pay Schwab more than $3,000 a day?  Because he knew more about the manufacture of steel than other people?  No.  Schwab said that he had many men working for him whose technical knowledge surpassed his.
Schwab was paid such a handsome amount largely because of his ability to deal with people.  Here is the secret set down in his own words:
“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among the men the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.  There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of man as criticisms from his superiors.  I never criticize anyone.  I believe in giving a man incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault.  If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”

If you find yourself with the thoughts, “I wish people would treat me a little more like …” – perhaps you ought to be first to treat them that way.

:13-14 Narrow Gate

:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

:14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Jesus is the narrow gate.

(John 14:6 NKJV)  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

There is only one way into heaven – through trusting in Jesus Christ.

Not everyone is going to go to heaven – most will go to hell.

:15-23 Fruit inspection/False prophets

:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

They look like a sheep, but inside they are an enemy of the sheep.

How can we tell a wolf from the sheep?

:16 "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Again, this sounds a bit like needing to make a “judgment” about people.  We need to be fruit inspectors.

You can tell a grapevine apart from a thorn bush by what kind of fruit is growing on the bush.

:17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

What is fruit?

It’s the natural result of a growing plant.  It’s what naturally appears without any coaxing.

Some ideas about good fruit:

(Gal 5:22-23 NKJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives as we learn to yield more and more of our lives to Him.
(John 15:5-8 NKJV)  "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. {6} "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. {7} "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. {8} "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
We often take verse 7 as an important verse in prayer – that we need to be “abiding”, staying in Jesus, letting His words affect our lives, and then our prayers are answered.  But I wonder if the point of praying isn’t to see God working in our lives, and that answered prayer is part of the fruit that God wants to produce?

Some ideas about bad fruit.  Peter talks about false prophets:

(2 Pet 2:1-3 NKJV)  But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. {2} And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. {3} By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
(2 Pet 2:12-18 NKJV)  But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, {13} and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, {14} having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. {15} They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; {16} but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. {17} These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. {18} For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.
Peter talks about them “denying the Lord who bought them”, speaking of how a false prophet will talk about the Lord Jesus.  Peter talks about things like “coveteousness” and “adultery”.  Some of the fruit seems to be in these areas. 

:18 "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

:19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

:20 "Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

You can tell a true believer by their fruit.

:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

:22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'

:23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

I find it interesting that Jesus says these people will claim to do miraculous things, yet still not do the will of the Father, they practice “lawlessness”.

It’s not a matter of saying the right words that saves a person.  It’s not even a matter of doing miracles that shows you are saved.  It’s letting God change your life.  Words are important, but if there are only words and no change, then something is wrong.

When God changes your life, you find yourself doing the things that please God.

This doesn’t mean we are saved by works and not by faith.  This means that if a person’s faith is genuine, then their life and their works will change.

The proof is in the life.

:23-27 Built on the Rock

:24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

:25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

:26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

:27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

What will you do with the things that Jesus teaches?

Jesus tells a story about two different men.  Both are like people who have heard Jesus’ teachings, but one did them and one didn’t.

Both men built houses.  Both men went through a storm.
One survived, one didn’t.
We are all going to build our lives.  We are all going to go through storms.  Doing what Jesus says doesn’t keep us from the storm, it keeps us from being destroyed in the storm.

:28-29 Authoritative teaching

:28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,

:29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Jesus didn’t just spend His time quoting other writers.  He taught God’s Word as if He wrote it.  Which He did.