Yesterday, we looked at what the ultimate LEADER said about "Rewards". It is a tricky and controversial subject, so we covered Matthew 6 in its entirety. When we did this, not only did we see saw how powerful Jesus' logic was, but we saw that He wanted us to NOT focus on APPEARANCE...and the way He motivated us was to show us we get spiritual reward ("value") if we don't and we lose spiritual reward ("value") if we do focus on APPEARANCE.
These points are easy to miss if you don't read your Bible a chapter (or more) at a time. It is also easy to mislead others if you pull out a verse or two and project your meaning onto the verses. One way to explain it is that Jesus is pointing us to a specific goal. The way He points is with a straight line made of logic. This line is made up of consecutive points that are on the perfectly straight line.
It is possible to draw a different straight line through ONE POINT (one verse)...however, THAT straight line will NOT overlap (include) the rest of the points on Jesus' straight line. We've called this "contradiction". What is our goal? If it is to prove our own point and try to make our own traditions APPEAR right, then you will only focus on one or two points that the Bible makes and then project your interpretation on the rest of the verses. If your goal is TRUTH, then you need to make sure ALL your points line up with ALL the points of the Bible.
In Matthew 6, Jesus showed us not to focus on APPEARANCE because it actually leads to us LOSING spiritual reward...even though we think (because of man-made tradition) it leads to spiritual reward. We believe APPEARANCE is the EFFECT of being right. ACTUALLY, if we continue reading Jesus' explanation, we will see that Jesus even tells us the TRUE EFFECTS of being right...
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Verse 1)
Quick point: This verse, in and of itself, would be begging and appealing to emotion if no explanation AND no value followed. This verse is what you would find in most religious books. AND most people who represent Jesus act as if this is ALL that Jesus said...but we will see it is followed with a "FOR..." (REASON)
"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Verse 2)
This is a POWERFUL statement that most people COMPLETELY ignore. The SAME judgment YOU put on others will be put on YOU. What was the second half of the MOST QUOTED OBJECTIVE (John 3:16) that God has? John 3:17 says Jesus came NOT to condemn the world. There is NO excuse to judge others harshly AND NOT expect to be held to the SAME standard by GOD. This verse gives NO out...it doesn't say, "...unless you are a Christian leader, then you won't get judged the same way you judge others." Notice also that Jesus isn't saying we are perfect. He recognizes we have flaws, yet He's still appealing to us as if He considers us "good".
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Verses 3-5)
Like in Matthew 6, Jesus follows His LEADER pattern: state an objective, give a reason and a value, give an example...this example SHOWS/PROVES there is no "out" for ANYONE. If you have the same problem as someone else, regardless if you are trying to help them or judge them, you are a HYPOCRITE if you don't fix YOURSELF first.
Notice, this is going back to logical self-interest. This passage just gave you a reason (logic) why you OUGHT to improve YOURSELF FIRST!
Notice also, fixing yourself still does NOT allow you to judge the other person. Fixing yourself QUALIFIES you to help others. It qualifies you to be a LEADER!
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." (Verse 6)
This is an interesting and often misinterpreted verse. It can only be understood by looking at it in the context of Matthew 6 and Matthew 7. Jesus is saying NOT to give a value to people who DON'T appreciate it. He is beginning the explanation that there are TWO kinds of people: good and evil. What are your definitions of good and evil?
Matthew 6 dealt with the issues WITHIN the individual. It didn't matter what others did...THIS is what YOU do. In Matthew 7, we see that Jesus is dealing with the issues BETWEEN individuals. This chapter started with Jesus telling you how to deal with judging OTHERS...yet Jesus STILL shows how it affects YOU.
Then Jesus made sure YOU knew the danger of judging others if YOU have the SAME issue. Then He stated the objective was to help...NOT judge. However, Jesus knows we are going to still want to judge others, so Jesus is going to tell you how to OBJECTIVELY determine if someone is "good" or "evil". He introduces the concept by saying that "swine" exist and if you give these people a value, they WON'T appreciate it AND they will turn on YOU!
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" (Verse 7)
Here we go again...Jesus states an objective. Next we need to hear the reason and the value...is there a "For..."?
"For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?" (Verses 8-10)
Here we go again...Jesus gives a reason and a value and an example.
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Verse 11)
Jesus begins His explanation of dealing with "good and swine" by starting with the Father! Jesus is always pointing us to the Father...NOT Himself. He also does it with a question...instead of forcing His point on us. So, ONE of the characteristics we OUGHT to look for in dealing with people is: Do they ask?
Swine DON'T ask questions.
"Good" people ask questions.
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Verse 12)
Jesus' draws a conclusion to this section by saying we OUGHT to treat others like we want others AND God to treat us. When we ask, we want an answer. When others ask us, they deserve an answer from us.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:" (Verse 13)
Here we go again...Jesus states an objective.
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Verse 14)
Here we go again...Jesus gives a reason ("because...") and a value (life).
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Verse 15)
Here we go again...Jesus gives an objective.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Verses 16-20)
Here we go again...Jesus gives a reason and a value and an example.
However, this is the MAIN POINT...the MAIN METRIC! Jesus says to measure people by their "fruit"...by their profitability. This passage is COMPLETELY consistent with John 15. In THAT passage, Jesus says that the tree producing fruit is cut back...SO IT CAN PRODUCE MORE.
It doesn't matter about APPEARANCE! The metric is PROFITABILITY! (Remember Jesus curses a tree because it appeared to bear fruit, but upon objective evaluation it produced NO FRUIT.) Is the person "good" (creates in the Long Term) or "evil" (destroys in the Long Term)? You can objectively tell by looking at their "fruit".
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Verses 21-23)
I could write a whole chapter on this section, but here is the summary: Jesus says the measure is DOING the Will of God...and the EFFECT is profitability. Reread John 15...Jesus says you OUGHT to bear fruit (be profitable) AND you CANNOT do it unless Jesus is flowing through you! Unless you KNOW Jesus and the Father.
People LOVE to talk about having a "relationship" with God. However, we've seen God wants you to have FELLOWSHIP with Him...and these people PROVE they don't know their Bible because the word "relationship" isn't in the Bible. Second, this "relationship" they talk about it is PROVEN by profitability. It is NOT something that is stated. It is NOT APPEARANCE. In this section, Jesus says that people WILL SAY they "knew" Him...AND THAT is NOT proof! It is profitability.
Jesus has been building a POWERFUL explanation. It's time for Jesus to summarize Matthew 6 and 7:
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Verses 24-27)
Again, I could write a chapter...
Point #1: The winds and the rain (physical hardships) beat on BOTH houses. People who tell you that your physical circumstances will be less because you are a Christian are contradicting Jesus.
Point #2: BOTH cases involve someone who HEARS Jesus' words. Jesus is NOT talking about people who DON'T hear Jesus' words. It is NOT enough to just HEAR Jesus' words!
Point #3: The ONLY difference between the two cases is one person DID the words and the other did NOT do them.
Jesus summarizes both chapters by saying it is ALL up to you whether you DO My words or not. This has nothing to do with you being unable to do anything good or not being able to make a choice. The responsibility is COMPLETELY on YOU to DO Jesus' words.
He proved this with reasons and values.
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Verses 28-29)
Matthew 6 and 7 are doctrine. The people were astonished because He taught as one having authority: He gave a reason and a value for EVERYTHING He said. He KNEW what He was talking about. Can your pastor give you a reason and a value for everything they want you to believe?
Fourteen years ago, I began reading the Bible cover-to-cover every year. After two years, I realized that God's metric was profitability. During my third read through, I realized EVERYTHING makes sense if you view it from profitability and NOT APPEARANCE (short-term).
People who judge others because they do something wrong in the short-term are opening themselves up to judgment if they are wrong REGARDLESS of who they are...this applies to EVERYONE...even people who are "Christians" and "Christian leaders". The PROOF is shown with Long Term profitability. Over the Long Term, are the EFFECTS becoming more apparent and abundant, or are they becoming less. The WORST thing a person can do is attack or attempt to limit someone who is producing MORE fruit over time...because now they are judging someone who ACTUALLY is ahead of them in God's Eyes.
Godly EFFECTS are proven over the Long Term by profitability.
Most people judge short-term results by looking at APPEARANCE...Matthew 6 and 7 are judgment against these people.
God does NOT judge us according to perfection. God judges us according to "GOOD" (Long Term Profitability).
This means we can have flaws in the short-term (APPEARANCE) but as long as it is profitable in the Long Term, God considers us "GOOD". We saw in a previous post how all things work for GOOD for those who love God and obey His Will. This meant that even when we make a mistake, if we love God and take direction from Him, He will find a way to make it profitable (good)...not perfect, because WE lost the ability to achieve that with OUR choices. But God is focused on Long Term profitability...creating something of more value than what originally existed. This also means the ONLY way we can ACTUALLY be "GOOD" is to have God direct our actions (GRACE). (Notice, this also explains why we need to first get ourselves right...so that we can hear from God and allow Him to influence our heart. Not having ourselves right hinders GRACE...and stops us from helping others.)
However, it is our responsibility to choose to let God flow through us...that is why Jesus is appealing to us with logic. IF there was NOTHING we could do and NOTHING we could be responsible for, then Jesus is wasting His time and our time with explanations.
The ONLY way to interpret the Bible in a non-contradictory manner is to realize HOW God judges us as "GOOD" even though we have flaws.
Notice also, that it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to consider someone as "GOOD" if they condemn others!
When a person condemns someone else, it is according to APPEARANCE...this results in them IMMEDIATELY bringing judgment on themself because they ALSO have flaws. They are a hypocrite. We saw that here (Matthew 7) and in the past we have looked at Romans 2:1-3.
The right response is to approach the person and point out factually what APPEARS to be unprofitable in the Long Term and ask questions. (We will see this in detail one day next week.) The right response is to HELP (LOVE) the other person EVEN if you disagree with them!
Maybe I had an advantage because God has directed my professional life towards dealing with how people measure and value things. However, next week I want to prove to you the power of this perspective. Next week we will cover Jesus' hardest sayings. These are sayings that annoy most people. You will see that EACH example makes complete sense when viewed from the perspective of profitability.