43. Judging others (Matthew 7:1-6; Luke 6:37-42)
People who continually find fault with others only invite judgment upon themselves, both from their fellows and from God. In pointing to the faults in others, they attract attention to themselves. They too have faults, and though they themselves may be unaware of them, other people see them very clearly (Matthew 7:1-5).
Nevertheless, there is a kind of judgment that is necessary. Those who present the gospel must be able to judge the difference between people who genuinely want to know about God and people who only want to mock and abuse. A person does not give good meat to filthy dogs, nor does he give pearls to pigs (Matthew 7:6).
The followers of Jesus must learn to make proper judgments if they are to help others. As teachers they are examples, and God will reward them according to the example they give, whether for good or for bad. They must remember that they cannot lead the blind if they themselves are blind. In particular, they must not lead others astray by faultfinding (Luke 6:37-42).
44. Prayers of request (Matthew 7:7-12; Luke 11:5-13)
Jesus gave two illustrations to show his followers that they can put their requests to God confidently. Even a tired and uncooperative neighbour can be persuaded by a person's persistence into giving him what he needs. How much more will God, who is a loving Father, supply all the needs of his children (Luke 11:5-10). Christians do not have to beg from a God who is unwilling to give. They go to God as children go to their father, confident that he will not disappoint them or give them less than they ask (Matthew 7:7-12; Luke 11:11-13).
45. The two ways (Matthew 7:13-29; Luke 6:43-49)
There are two ways of life. One is the easy way of pleasing self, which most choose and which leads to destruction. The other is the narrow way of denying self for Jesus' sake, which leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).
One reason why many do not follow the narrow way is that they are deceived by those who teach their own views on how people can find meaning in life. Their teaching at first sounds reasonable, but in the end it proves to be destructive. The teachers appear to be as harmless as sheep, but actually they are as dangerous as wolves. A bad tree produces bad fruit, and wrong teaching produces wrong behaviour (Matthew 7:15-20).
Another reason why people do not follow the narrow way is that they deceive themselves. They think that because they attach themselves to Jesus' followers they will enter Jesus' kingdom. They may even preach in Jesus' name, but if they have never had a personal experience of God through faith and repentance, they too will go to the place of destruction (Matthew 7:21-23). If people hear Jesus' teaching but do not act upon it, they are deceiving themselves and heading for disaster. They are like a person who builds a house that looks solid but has no foundation, and so is destroyed when the storm of testing comes (Matthew 7:24-27).
The difference between Jesus' teaching and the teaching of the scribes was obvious to all. The scribes referred to respected teachers of the past for their authority, but Jesus spoke on his own authority. The scribes could only repeat the regulations of Judaism, but Jesus interpreted the law with an authority that came from God (Matthew 7:28-29).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 7". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany