“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
– Matthew 7:21
We make judgments every single day. We judge situations to determine how we will react or proceed. We judge what we will eat or drink and whether we like it or not. These are not the judgments that Jesus is teaching about in . When Jesus says, “do not judge,” he is speaking about hypocritical judgment against another brother or sister in Christ. Essentially, we are not to hold someone to a different standard than ourselves. In , Paul warns those who hypocritically judge others. By judging others, the person is also judging themselves. If we hypocritically judge others, we are subject to be judged by God in the same way that we judge others ().
Jesus gives an example of hypocritical judging in . Jesus says that the solution to the problem of hypocritical judgment is for us to examine ourselves first. We must remove “the log” from our own eye in order to see clearly and with the right perspective to help the one who has “the speck” in his eye. One commentator writes, “Before presuming to help others, one must undergo some self-discipline and yield to the discipline of the Lord.” Of course, we cannot remove hypocrisy and sin from our lives on our own. As says, we need God to renew us and cleanse us. It is only him who can restore us to himself.
Though we are not to be harshly judgmental to others, Jesus teaches us that we are to be discerning. In , Jesus gives us a picture of discernment. The holy things and the pearls are a representation of the gospel. The gospel message is sacred and precious and is something to be shared with others. The dogs and pigs are representations of those who “kick against” the gospel – those who are unwilling to even consider the gospel. What Christ is saying is that we must use our discernment when sharing the gospel with others. In a way, it can become a waste of our effort to continue evangelizing those who have clearly rejected the gospel. This does not mean we should completely give up, but we should be discerning in how we proceed.
When it comes to discernment, we should not rely solely on our own intuition for guidance – we must turn to God for direction. show that we are to ask and seek God’s guidance when it comes to discernment. God promises to answer us, but that does not mean he will always answer in the way we desire. When we seek God’s guidance in discernment, we trust that his answer is best and we display our utter reliance upon him.
show how we can trust God in all things. He says that even parents do what is best for their children. For what reason would God not do the same? Sometimes we may misjudge God’s care for us, but he knows better than we do what is best for us. If an earthly father cares enough for their child that they would protect them from harm, how much more will God give us wisdom for discernment!
is often referred to as the “Golden Rule” and is found in varying forms in other religious literature. This rule relates to in that we are to live up to the same standards as we expect of others. This may not be an easy command for us to follow, but God expects honesty and fairness between his disciples.
Jesus has shown in the Sermon on the Mount that being a disciple is not an easy task. Here he begins his concluding statements to help his listeners apply the teaching. In , Jesus describes two gates. The first gate is a wide gate proceeded by easiness and popularity. Jesus says that this gate leads to destruction – it leads to eternal damnation. This is the road of sin and death. Jesus, however, tells his disciples that they must enter by the narrow gate which includes difficulty, but it leads to eternal life. There is great urgency for disciples to show others the way to the narrow gate. We do not know when Christ will return for his Church, so we must have that sense of urgency to make disciples of all nations!
Jesus gives two warnings to his listeners. His first warning is to watch out for false prophets who will be hard to recognize outwardly (). Jesus says that we can recognize such false teachers by what they produce. Are they producing what a disciple of Christ would produce? A good test of this would be the fruit of the Spirit in . False prophets can be damaging to the church body because they distort the truth of God and lead others astray. This was not just a problem for the people in Jesus’ time – it continues to be a problem today. We must vigilantly observe for those who may be false teachers.
Jesus’ second warning is to be aware of false professions. In , Jesus warns against those who outwardly profess Christ by what they do, but do not live according to God’s will. This makes their profession an empty profession. Disciples are those who do the will of the Father and live in obedience to him. says that our doing of God’s will is a direct result of hearing and believing God’s will.
Jesus concludes his first discourse with a parable to describe the two possible destinies of those who hear his words (). The main difference between the wise man and the foolish man is the foundation they built their house upon. It is important to have a strong foundation so that it can withstand the elements. So, too, should our faith be built upon the strong foundation of Christ and the will of God. When the “elements” such as trials, temptations, suffering, etc., beat against our foundation, the foundation will stand firm.