THE LORD’S TEACHINGS, recorded in Matthew 6:1-34, were designed to lead His disciples into such relations with their Father in heaven, that He would fill their thoughts, whether in regard to their almsgiving, their prayers, their fastings, or their attitude to the possessions and needs of this life. Matthew 7:1-29 opens with teachings that would regulate their dealings with their brethren, and even with the ungodly.
The judging of one’s brother is a very deep-seated tendency in our heart. The judging of things, or of teaching, is not forbidden, but encouraged— as we see, for instance, in 1 Corinthians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 10:15 —but the judging of persons is forbidden. The church is called upon to judge those who are of it, in certain cases, as 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 show, but, apart from this, the judging of persons is a prerogative of the Lord. If, in spite of the Lord’s forbidding, we indulge in it, two penalties are sure to follow, as He indicates here. First, we ourselves shall come under judgment, and have measured to us just what we have meted to others. Second, we shall drift into hypocrisy. Directly we start judging others we become blind to our own defects. The small defect in our brother becomes magnified to us, all unconscious that we have a big defect of a nature to impair our spiritual eyesight. The most profitable form of judgment for each of us is self-judgment.
Verse Matthew 7:6 has in view the ungodly, insensible of good and unclean in their tastes. Things that are holy and precious are not for them; and if foolishly we present them to them, they are despised and we may suffer their violence. It is right that we should be givers of God’s holy things; but not to such.
But if we are to be givers, we must first receive, and of this verses Matthew 7:7-11 speak. To receive we must draw near to God—asking, seeking, knocking. A response from our Father is certain. If we ask for necessary things we shall get them, for He will not give us instead something worthless like a stone, or injurious like a serpent. We may rest assured that He will give us “good things,” for His Fatherhood is of heaven. His standard therefore will not fall below that of earthly fatherhood. We may apply Isaiah 55:9 to this, and say that as the heavens are higher than the earth so are His Fatherly thoughts higher than our thoughts. We of necessity cannot come up to His standard. Hence in verse Matthew 7:12 the Lord did not then demand of His disciples a standard above that set by the law and the prophets.
In verses Matthew 7:13-14 the Lord evidently looked beyond His disciples to the crowd. Before them there were the alternatives of the broad way and the narrow way, of destruction and life. We cannot say that the grace of God is narrow, for it has come forth for all men; it is the way of self-judgment and repentance which is so narrow. Few find that way, and but few proclaim it. The majority of the preachers prefer to prophesy smoother things.
The warning against false prophets follows. They are to be known not by their fine words but by their fruits. Fruit is the result and crowning expression of life, and it reveals the character of the life that it consummates. The false prophet has a false life, which must reveal itself in false fruit.
But there are not only false prophets but false disciples—those who loudly profess allegiance to the Lord, but the vital link of faith is lacking. Vital faith, as the Apostle James tells us, must express itself in works. Everyone, who really comes under the lordship of Christ in faith, must of necessity be set to do the will of the Father in heaven, whom He presented. Judas Iscariot furnishes us with a terrible example of verses Matthew 7:22-23. Evidently he performed works of power along with the other disciples, but it was proved at last that no link of real faith ever existed and he was but a worker of iniquity.
And therefore the Lord closed His words with the parable of the two houses. Both builders, the wise and the foolish, were hearers of the words of Jesus but only one was a doer of them—and that one was the wise man. The parable does not teach salvation by works, but salvation by that living faith which leads to the works. If we cast our minds back over the Sermon on the Mount we shall realize at once that nothing but genuine faith in Him could induce anyone to do the things which He taught. We shall also realize how fully His teachings verified His own word in Matthew 5:17. He has given us the fulness of the law and the prophets, while adding fresh light as to the Father in heaven; thus preparing the way for the fuller light of grace that was to dawn as the fruit of His death and resurrection. The authority with which He announced these things was what struck the people. The scribes relied upon the earlier Rabbinic teachings, while He spoke the things that He knew from and with God.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Matthew 7". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany