The Most Popular Commandment Of Jesus-part 2
Praise the Lord, and greetings once again as we wrap up this week as we are getting close to the weekend, Hoping that you have had a blessed week so far, as mentioned on Monday we are going to pick up our study at 2. What The Commandment Does Not Mean
2.WHAT THE COMMANDMENT DOES NOT MEAN
A.It Does Not Mean There Is No Right or Wrong
To proponents of religious tolerance, this verse teaches there is no right or wrong. Everything is subjective. But this verse does not teach that at all. And neither do any of the other 31,101 verses in the Word of God. In fact, at the base of Mount Sinai, God gave the children of Israel ten specific commandments by which they were to live. God drew a hard, distinct line between right and wrong. And He expects His people to live on the right side of that line. In fact, when we look at those commandments, the best life we can live is on the right side of that line.
B.It Does Not Mean We Are Not Accountable to God
We know God sees every action, hears every word, and knows every thought. And further, we know God will judge every sinful action, word, and thought. For the Scripture teaches “the thought of foolishness is sin” (Proverbs 24:9). Every one of us will give account to God for the deeds done in our bodies, whether good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10). And we will give account to God for every idle word we speak (Matthew 12:36).
Matthew 7:1 certainly does not contradict the whole of Scripture by giving us a free pass to sin without taking thought of coming judgment, both in this life and in the judgment to come. In fact, according to Habakkuk 1:13, God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” God is so holy, He cannot even stomach the sight of sin. God will certainly judge sin.
3.WHAT THE COMMANDMENT MEANS
A.We Are Not to Have a Critical or Judgmental Spirit
Now that we know what this commandment does not mean, we will devote the balance of our study to what it does mean. It does mean we are not to have a critical or judgmental spirit. Later in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee and a publican. When Jesus told this parable, doubtless Pharisees were in the crowd.
When Jesus said “Pharisee,” the Pharisees smiled, but when He said “publican,” they scowled. They knew what those two titles meant. To them, Pharisee meant “good guy,” and publican meant “bad guy.” Pharisee, saint; publican, sinner. To them it was that simple.
But the Pharisees were more than just good guys living among everyone else. They actually cut ties with and separated themselves from everyone else. Pharisees did not stoop to perform menial tasks. They considered such tasks as common jobs to be reserved for common folk. They deemed themselves defiled if they even talked to anyone who did not keep the Law as closely as they did. Pharisees did not often invite others into their homes, and neither would they step foot into a sinner’s sin-stained house.
However, throughout the Gospels, Jesus had more trouble reaching the self-righteous than reaching the sinners. The Pharisees began with a noble, pure desire to keep God’s law. But somewhere along the way, those noble motives were lost, and the Pharisees began to seek the praise of men rather than to praise God. Neither did it take long before their obedience became their polished badge of self-righteousness.
In Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the publican, the Pharisee was about to polish his badge by going to prayer. That was the time to show the world how righteous Pharisees were and how unrighteous others were. When it came time for prayer, this Pharisee made his way into the Temple. He found a place far from everyone else—but still within view of everyone else—stood up, lifted up his voice, and began to pray. And he “prayed thus with himself” (Luke 18:11). Some Bible versions read, “He prayed to himself.”
“God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11–12). God was pleased that he had done right and shunned wrong. But he crossed the line from separation into self-righteousness when he came into the holy presence of a holy God and judged his sinlessness against the publican’s sinfulness.
But in the parable, something beat inside the heart of the tax collector that drove him to the Temple when it was time to pray. He looked up at the grandeur and beauty of it all. It was so beautiful, so ornate. He was so unholy, so sinful. He looked across the room at the Pharisee who stood praying, so proud of himself. When the Pharisee eyed the publican, he scowled at such filth.
The publican chose a place away from others, but not for the same reason as the Pharisee. The Pharisee felt as if no one else was worthy to be around him, but the publican felt as if he were unworthy to be around anyone else. As different as his life was from the Pharisee, so was his prayer. He had no good deeds to parade before God. He made a handsome living by gouging his own brothers out of their meager money. Never before had he felt so unholy than in the presence of such a holy God. He could not even lift his eyes toward Heaven. So he bowed down, beat his chest with his fist, and cried out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
He made no excuses for what he had done or the way he had lived. If he truly repented, Jewish law demanded he give back everything he had ever unlawfully gained plus 20 percent. His repentance was going to cost him. Yet, knowing God was going to change his life, and he was going to change his ways, he prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” That day, Jesus gave a red X to the Pharisee and a gold star to the publican because the Pharisee dared judge the publican before he searched his own heart.
This parable in Luke 18 paints beautifully the principle of Matthew 7. We are not to have a critical or judgmental spirit. He said to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Whether we are in church, in the store, in school, in traffic, or anywhere else, God is not calling us to judge others’ sins or their hearts. He is calling us to search our own hearts to make sure we are right with Him.
If we do have a critical and judgmental spirit, we will be judged by the same measure of criticism and judgment with which we judge others.
B.We Are Not to Judge Others More Harshly Than Ourselves
This verse also teaches us to be careful not to judge others more harshly than ourselves. In order to do that, Jesus painted a humorous picture with His words: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 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? 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).
This is the word picture Jesus painted in Matthew 7. Jesus admonished His hearers to search their own hearts first. If we do not, then we are rightly called hypocrites. But if we search our own hearts and take care of the “plank” in our eye, we will be able to see clearly to help remove the speck out of our brother’s eye. If not, we will do far more harm than good trying to remove the speck from his eye because we cannot see clearly
Internalizing the Message
Today is a good day to search our own hearts. Is sin present in our own lives? Is righteousness absent? Are we judging others harshly while we ourselves wish to be judged mercifully? When we come to church, do we hope the message preached will prick the hearts of others, or do we hope it will also prick our own?
We must be careful not to judge others before we first judge ourselves. For according to I Corinthians 11:31, “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” Simply stated, if we get our own hearts right with God now, we will not have to worry about Judgment Day, and we will see clearly to be able to help pick up our brothers and sisters if they fall.
So that cooncludes this weeks study on The Most Popular Commandment Of Jesus, when we get back together on Monday we will have our study on The Golden Rule, until then have a Blessed weekend.