Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua
In my last post, we began to look at Yeshua’s instructions on judging ourselves found in Matthew 7:1-5. In this post, we continue in Matthew 7 to learn what He has to say about judging others.
Here are three good reasons why we should be cautious of judging others:
- We never know the whole facts or the whole person. Long ago Hillel, the famous Rabbi said, “Do not judge a man until you yourself have come into his circumstances or situation.” No man knows the strength of another man’s temptations. The fact is that if we realized what some people have to go through, so far from condemning them, we would be amazed that they have succeeded in being as good as they are.
- It is almost impossible for any man to be strictly impartial in his judgment. Again and again we are swayed by instinctive and unreasoning reactions to people. Only a completely impartial person has a right to judge. It is not in human nature to be completely impartial. Only God can judge.
- But it was Yeshua who stated the supreme reason why we should not judge others. No man is good enough to judge any other man – we have too many beams in our own eyes.
Only the faultless have a right to look for faults in others. No man has a right to criticize another man unless he is prepared at least to try to do the thing he criticizes better. We have quite enough to do to rectify our own lives without seeking to rectify the lives of others. We would do well to concentrate on our own faults, and to leave the faults of others to God.
Our Judgment of Others (Matthew 7:6-12)
With that said, however, Yeshua does go on to say that Believers must exercise discernment; for not everyone is a sheep. Some people are dogs or hogs, and some are wolves in sheep’s clothing! We are the Lord’s sheep, but this does not mean we should let people pull the wool over our eyes!
Here is the reason we must judge: “Don’t give to dogs what is holy, and don’t throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you.” (Matthew 7:6)
As God’s people, we are privileged to handle the “holy things” of the Lord. He has entrusted to us the precious truths of the Word of God (2 Corinthians 4:7), and we must regard them carefully. No dedicated Cohen would throw sacrificial meat from the altar to a filthy dog, and only a fool would give pearls to a pig. While it is true that we must carry the Gospel “throughout the world” (Mark 16:15), it is also true that we must not cheapen the Gospel by a ministry that lacks discernment. As we saw in ‘the Passion’, even Yeshua refused to talk to Herod (Luke 23:9), and Sha’ul refused to argue with people who resisted the Word (Acts 13:44-49).
The reason for judgment, then, is not that we might condemn others, but that we might be able to minister to them. Notice that Yeshua always dealt with individuals according to their needs and their spiritual condition. He did not have a memorized speech that He used with everybody. He discussed the new birth with Nicodemus, but He spoke of living water to the Samaritan woman. When the religious leaders tried to trap Him, He refused to answer their question (Matthew 21:23-27). It is a wise Believer who first assesses the condition of a person’s heart before sharing the precious pearls.
In our personal witnessing, we should be guided by the Ruach HaKodesh to discern between those people who are ready to hear what we have to share and those who will only reject and ridicule it. Men who are carnally minded aren’t able to understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14-1).
“Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps asking receives; he who keeps seeking finds; and to him who keeps knocking, the door will be opened. Is there anyone who, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So is you, even though you are bad, know how to give your children gifts that are good, how much more will your Father in heaven keep giving good things to those who keep asking him!” (Mathew 7:7-11)
Why did our Lord discuss prayer at this point in His message? These verses seem to be an interruption, but they are not. You and I are human and fallible; we make mistakes. Only God can judge perfectly. Therefore, we must pray and seek His wisdom and direction. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5).
Young King Solomon knew that he lacked the needed wisdom to rule Israel, so he prayed to God; and the Lord graciously answered (1 Kings 3:3ff). If we are to have spiritual discernment, we must keep on asking God, keep on seeking His will, keep on knocking at the door that leads to greater ministry. God meets the needs of His children.
Yeshua came from a nation that loved prayer. The Jewish Rabbis said the loveliest things about prayer:
- “God is as near to his creatures as the ear to the mouth.”
- “Human beings can hardly hear two people talking at once, but God, if all the world calls to him at the one time, hears their cry.”
- “A man is annoyed by being worried by the requests of his friends, but with God, all the time a man puts his needs and requests before him, God loves him all the more.”
Yeshua had been brought up to love prayer; and in this passage he gives us the Believer’s charter of prayer.
Yeshua’s argument is very simple. One of the Jewish Rabbis asked, “Is there a man who ever hates his son?” Yeshua’s argument is that no father ever refused the request of his son; and God the great Father – Abba – will never refuse the requests of his children.
God will never refuse our prayers; and God will never mock our prayers. God will always answer our prayers; but He will answer them in His way, and His way will be the way of perfect wisdom and of perfect love. Often, if He answered our prayers as we at the moment desired, it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for things, which would be our ruin. This saying of Yeshua tells us, not only that God will answer, but also that God will answer in wisdom and in love.
Yeshua’s Guiding Principle
“Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
This is the “Golden Rule,” one of the most misunderstood statements in the Bible. This statement is not the sum total of all truth, nor is it God’s plan of redemption. We should no more build our theology on the Golden Rule than we should build our astronomy on “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
This great truth is a principle that ought to govern our attitudes toward others. The person who practices the Golden Rule refuses to say or do anything that would harm himself or others. If our judging of others is not governed by this principle, we will become proud and critical, and our own spiritual character will degenerate.
Practicing the Golden Rule releases the love of God in our lives and enables us to help others; even those who want to hurt us.
But remember that practicing the Golden Rule means paying a price. If we want God’s best for others, and ourselves, but others resist God’s will, then they will oppose us. We are salt, and salt stings the open wound. We are light, and light exposes dirt.
It is possible to quote rabbinic parallels for almost everything that Yeshua said in the Sermon on the Mount; but there is no real parallel to this saying. This is something that had never been said before. It is new teaching, and a new view of life and of life’s obligations.
In its negative form this rule is in fact the basis of all ethical teaching, but no one but Yeshua ever put it in its positive form. Many voices had said, “Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you,” but no voice had ever said, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”
In my next post, we will continue to examine Yeshua’s teaching on the basis for judging in Matthew 7.