Rev. Patton, at Wesley United Methodist Church here on St. Simons has been preaching a series on the Sermon on the Mount. Today we started Matthew 7, which begins with several difficult verses. The first section is a prohibition about judging. The second section tells us to beware of dogs and hogs. Both sections have been challenging passages in my life.
First, the section about judging. This is one of the most quoted and little followed verses in the Bible. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1. God judges us by the same measure we use to judge others.
But notice what it says about judging: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Mathew 7:4-5. These verses don’t tell us to leave everyone else alone to make any mistakes they want to make. We are clearly supposed to speak out in love and humility when we think someone is wrong.
Now, no one likes to be told that they are acting in a wrong way. It is easier to hear, however, if we know that someone loves us. It is also easier to hear if we know that the person pointing out a wrong is someone who is humble about his or her own faults. The problem, of course, is we are quicker to jump to judgement than we are to examine our own lives and work to change them. We would rather change others than change ourselves. Jesus asks us to start with ourselves before we go to work on others.
The second section tells us to beware of dogs and hogs. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6. These instructions are a follow-up to the preceding verses.
What are we to do if we offer the grace of God in love and humility and others reject message? Notice the language of the rejection: “trample“, “tear you to pieces“. This is not a mild response. We do not judge people first – we offer the love of God to everyone. We offer the message of Jesus Christ to others in love and humility and they are dogs and hogs if they reject the message.
And we do not keep battering away at them if they reject the message. We wipe the dust off our feet and leave them alone. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” Matthew 10:14. This interpretation might help us when we offer others the grace of God. If they accept the message then we praise God. If they reject it, especially if they try to hurt us while they reject it, then we move on. We do not have to stay and be abused.
Be careful about judging. Make sure you looking at the purity of your own soul first. Share the grace of God with everyone. And beware of the dogs and hogs who try to hurt you instead of accepting the joy of life in Jesus Christ.