Matthew 7:1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
This was a serious problem in first century Judaism, when so many people were trying to obey the Bible. In addition to the six hundred thirteen commands in the Old Testament, others were added through tradition. Those who tried to follow them felt good about themselves and enjoyed looking down on others. To this Jesus said, Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
This does not mean we should not talk about sin, or distinguish right from wrong. Jesus did this all the time. But like Jesus Christ, we must uphold the word of God, without becoming judgmental. This can be done rather easily.
Whenever you see rudeness in others, repent of the same in yourself. Whenever you see immodesty in others, repent of the same in yourself. Whenever you see arrogance in others, repent of the same in yourself. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3), said Jesus.
In fact, God may be bringing these people across your path to remind you of your faults. We ought to apply God’s word to ourselves before applying it to others. This will help us to avoid being judgmental.
Matthew 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
It is not a surprise that Jesus was in favor of prayer, since amazing things happened whenever Jesus prayed. The blind saw, the deaf heard, and hungry people were fed. With those kind of results, it is no wonder that Jesus believed in prayer. But most of our prayers are not answered so dramatically, and unanswered prayer can even make us doubt.
A thirteen year old boy had a friend with leukemia, so he prayed earnestly and it went into remission. But three months later the sickness came back and she died. Many children have prayed for their parents to get along, only to watch them get a divorce. And countless parents have prayed for their children, only to watch them walk away from Christ.
Is Jesus getting our hopes up, only to let us down? Is prayer a waste of time? Many Christians think so, even if they would not say so. But like financial investing, prayer requires a longer view. Those who take a short view of prayer will underestimate its value, while those who take a longer view will see their reward eventually.
I know a lady whose son who was born with a disability that would limit him severely. She was determined to get a miracle, so she prayed, fasted, and took him to every prayer meeting in town. But the miracle never came. He struggled to walk, struggled in school, and struggled socially.
But along the way, he picked up his mother’s faith. He also went to college and earned a Master’s degree. Then he married a Christian woman and became successful in every way, except that he does his work from a wheel chair. His mother is so amazed that she calls it a miracle. Prayer is never a waste of time; it only requires a longer view.
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
God’s generosity often goes unnoticed because of our dullness. Pigs are fond of acorns, but never look up to the branches from which they fall. God pours out his blessings, but we seldom acknowledge their source.
This is why the Bible reminds us that Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). A well-cooked meal, a kind embrace, and a joyful heart are all gifts from God. Our heavenly Father loves to give, simply because he is generous.
One of my greatest joys as a parent was taking my children to the dollar store and giving them one dollar each. There were so many toys to choose from, they could hardly decide. Once I felt so generous that I gave them five dollars each—they thought they won the lottery! Surprisingly, I was willing to do this even though I am evil. If you, then, though you are evil . . . said Jesus.
The world is still confused about whether people are basically good or evil. Most admit they are evil, but also believe they are basically good. Clarity on this point is important because if we assume that people are basically good, then all we will need to perfect society is more education, more opportunity, and more government. But if we assume that people are basically evil, then we need salvation, because the problem is a part us that we cannot change ourselves.
In fact, the Bible is clear about this. [E]very inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21), wrote Moses. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5), wrote David. And, There is no one righteous . . . . no one who does good (Romans 3:10-12), wrote Paul.
This does not mean that we are all equally bad, or could not be any worse. But like a bent arrow, we cannot fly straight, and will never hit the mark on our own. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us fight against sin, and he will take away our sinful nature in the age to come. Then our salvation will be complete, and we will live in harmony with God, in the best of all possible worlds.
Reflection and Review
How can we avoid being judgmental?
Does prayer always work?
Are people totally evil?