Genesis 9-10, Ezra 9, Matthew 7

Read Genesis 9-10, Ezra 9, and Matthew 7 and this devotional which is about Matthew 7, particularly verses 24-27.

As Jesus concluded his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, he left us with a memorable image. Two homes were built. One was built on a rock foundation, the other was built on sand.

Both homes were beaten by rough weather.

The one founded on the rock remained; the one with a sandy foundation was not only damaged; it was completely destroyed.

Each house corresponds to a type of person. Both types of people heard the message of Jesus. It was not a question of ignorance versus knowledge. Both had the knowledge they needed.

No, the difference is that one type of person “hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.” The other type of person hears the words, too, but never acts in obedience to them.

We need to be continually reminded of this warning because we deceive ourselves into thinking that knowledge is enough. If we know God’s word, we think our lives will be rock solid. Temptations may come, trials may blow, but knowing God’s word will carry us through, right?

Wrong.

We often succumb to temptation or lose our way in trials because we have not obeyed God’s word. Obedience to God’s word is what builds a stable life. Knowledge is important, but not enough.

Is there an area (or more than one) in your life where you are living disobdiently to God’s word? I mean a situation where you know what the right thing to do is but you won’t do it.

And day after day after day you keep choosing to do wrong or, at least, you keep choosing not to do right.

If so, please realize that you are building your life on an inadequate, unstable foundation. When life gets rough, your house will collapse.

Jesus said so.

Be wise and change your mind and your ways today.

Matthew 7

Today the schedule calls for us to read Matthew 7, so I recommend doing that now.

This chapter is the end of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” that we started on Friday back in Matthew 5. Right away Jesus commanded us not to judge (v. 1a). The reason? “or you too will be judged.” And the standard for the judgment is the “the same way you judge others, you will be judged.” In other words, God will judge us for judging others. But what exactly is Jesus teaching here about judging?

First, he is not talking about a legal situation. For human society to exist peacefully, there must be peaceful methods for resolving conflicts. That requires some kind of decision-maker: a judge, a jury, an arbiter. So, this isn’t a command for you to avoid jury duty or to recuse yourself from everything if you’re a judge.

Second, Jesus is not talking about using discernment. In the same context down in verse 6, Jesus commanded us not to “give dogs what is sacred” or “throw your pearls to pigs.” The “dogs” and “pigs” are metaphors for a certain kind of person. Jesus was commanding us not giving truth to those who obviously will not recognize it as precious. It takes discernment to know what kind of person is like a dog or a pig and Proverbs commands and instructs us to live with discernment, so Jesus is not forbidding the use of it here.

The attitude Jesus commanded us to avoid is the attitude we label as “judgmental.” It is the attitude of harsh criticism we feel (and sometimes speak) toward others, condemning them as evil or jerks or stupid as if we had all knowledge like God does. An example may help (one that I’m totally guilty of, to my shame): If a person cuts me off in traffic and I think (or say), “that guy is a selfish jerk” I have judged him in the way Jesus spoke against here. Maybe he is a selfish jerk or maybe he’s late for a job interview or his wife is in labor or he’s preoccupied by fear or grief or stress and just didn’t notice me. So Christ commands us not to take on a God-complex and pass judgment on everyone. Instead, we should learn to show grace to others who seem difficult or unkind to us.

If I judge someone’s driving but I don’t know that person and he or she never hears my condemnation, little damage is done. Others in the car might lose some respect for me, but I haven’t done any damage to the other driver. But when we judge others in our lives without having many (any?) important facts, we poison our relationship to that person. We may never speak our judgment out loud, but we start to treat that person differently.

More importantly, when we judge others we are expressing a deep, disgusting sin–the sin of pride. We judge others because we think we are better than they are–smarter, more compassionate, more discerning, more godly, whatever. This puts us at odds with God, the only one capable of judging justly and the one who “resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). So, consider your heart, your attitude toward others and ask God to give you more grace and humility in your relationships with other people.