Discernment Sayings

Please read and memorise Matthew 7

Yeshua finished this sermon, up on a mountain near Capernaum, with some memorable sayings to teach the people the difference between godly discernment and unrighteous judgment of others. All prejudices are based in unrighteous judgment. Pre-judging others on the basis of their colour or race, tribe, gender, social status, height, weight, disability, wealth, education, literacy, age, health, language, nationality, or any other worldly attribute is an unrighteous judgment. In response to all these Yeshua taught: “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged” and “treat people the same way you want them to treat you,” Matthew 7:1 & 12 NASB. None of us wants to be pre-judged on the basis of what someone thinks “all those people” are like. Those of us who are seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness value conviction and correction of anything in our lives that is not of Christ.

Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged.  For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you.  Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!” Matthew 7:1-5

Don’t judge” was written in the Negated Greek Present Imperative tense, meaning this action must be stopped if it is already underway and constantly avoided, continually resisted. We are to keep resisting the temptation to wrongly judge others or to try to divert attention from our sins by focusing on those of others.

Notice that in denouncing judgment of others Yeshua was not advocating blindly accepting everything others say or do. He was not advocating a permissiveness that accepts every sin as though it were righteousness and every evil as though it were goodness. Rather, He was commanding us to clean up our own act first, seek His righteousness in our own lives first, before helping others deal with their sin. Too often people try to hide their own sins behind condemnation of others, thinking they can make themselves look more righteousness by drawing attention to the sins of others and demanding such be punished harshly and eradicated. “Moral crusaders” who highlight other’s faults, demanding harsh punishments for such, while refusing to acknowledge or deal with their own sins find themselves coming under the judgment of these verses. Yeshua here issued a just reproof to those who condemn small faults in others while ignoring greater faults in themselves.

In this illustration, Yeshua used the language of a carpenter.

A “log” (i.e. dokos, δοκός) is a beam of timber, a plank of wood such as is used in a weight-bearing capacity in construction. It is large and thick and unyielding.

Notice how Yeshua described a ‘small’ fault – as a splinter in the eye. While not as totally blinding and dangerous to others as having a huge log in our eye (a phrase used for the hilarious memorable word picture it creates), having a splinter in the eye is still very painful and could quickly become debilitating. Splinters, as well as logs, need to be removed before we can be well, comfortable or see clearly.

One difference between a splinter and a log is that, because of its size, we can (or, at least, should be able to) see and remove the log from our own eye – it’s that massive thing protruding out from the front of our face; whereas we cannot see a little splinter in our own eye, just feel the pain of it, and need another’s assistance to remove it.

He who removes a painful splinter from his brother’s eye does him a good service, but none of us wants someone blinded by a log in their own eye trying to perform such a delicate operation on us.

We must judge ourselves, and judge our own acts, recognise any log in our own eye and remove it. We need to take the path of the beatitudes to be filled with God’s righteousness, not deceived by self-righteousness, if we are to see well enough to provide the delicate service to our brother of removing the painful splinter from his eye. Our debt of love compels us to lay aside our premature judgments, which keep agape love from flowing out of us. Blind prejudice can do nothing but maim and blind others as that hefty log swings around with every turn of the head, knocking others out and leaving a scattering of splinters imbedded in those it strikes. When we become unconditional lovers, seeing Christ’s beauty in the other and desiring only that which will benefit them and honour God, only then can we see clearly enough to remove a splinter from another’s eye and thus relieve their pain.

Don’t give to dogs what is holy, and don’t throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you.” Matthew 7:6 CJB

Don’t give” was written in the Negated Greek Aorist Imperative tense, conveying in the original text: “Never do this, not even once, don’t even think about doing this.” Dogs, in Jewish culture at this time, were associated with violence and uncleanliness. They were not household pets, but roamed as a pack animal that scavenged anything, attacked the vulnerable and had the most disgusting habits. They liked to hang around humans for what they could scavenge from them.

Symbolically, dogs were unholy and free to partake of the unholy, even as the Jewish people were holy to God and forbidden to partake of anything unholy. 

You shall be holy people to Me: you must not eat flesh torn by beasts in the field; you shall cast it to the dogs.” Exodus 22:30

Dogs were considered synonymous with pigs in that they were both ritually unclean:

Of all the animals that walk on all fours, those that walk on their paws are unclean for you; whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean till evening.” Leviticus 11:27

The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.” Deuteronomy 14:8

It was totally unthinkable to a Jew to allow any dog to ever enter the holy temple courts where the sacrifices were made to God and lick up some of the blood of the sacrifice or chew on some of the sacrificial meat. Only those who were in covenant with God were allowed to partake of that which He set apart for His people.

Never do this, not even once, don’t even think about giving to dogs what is holy (ἅγιος , hágios). The core meaning of hágios is ‘different’. In the NT hágios has the technical meaning of “different from the world” because of “likeness of nature with the Lord“. In Yeshua’s time the Jewish people knew they needed to be hágios, different to all the other peoples around them through their obedience to Torah. God had commanded Aaron:

You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the clean and the unclean, so that you may teach the Israelites all the statutes that the LORD has given them through Moses.” Leviticus 10:10-11 BSB

Ezekiel 22 records Yahweh‘s judgment on Jerusalem as He outlines the sins of the different sectors of society. In verse 26 God charges the priests:

“Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” Ezekiel 22:26 NIV

Ezekiel 44 describes the restored priesthood and again commands them:

They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 44:23 NIV

Dogs don’t discriminate. They totally fail to distinguish between what is holy and what is common. If allowed, they would lick the blood of the holy sacrifices one moment, eat some animal’s faeces the next, and then delight in chewing on a pig bone while they roll in something dead that smells disgusting. Do not ever, not even once, don’t even think about giving what is holy, separate and different from the world, to such as these who will treat it as just another worldly thing to satisfy their desires.

and don’t throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you.” Matthew 7:6b CJB

Don’t throw“, like the previous “don’t give” was written in the Negated Greek Aorist Imperative tense, conveying in the original text: “Never do this, not even once, don’t even think about doing this.” The adages and interpretations of the rabbis were figuratively called “pearls” at this time.  Other Jewish rabbis also counselled against sharing the treasures of Torah with those they considered unworthy of such. These, they defined as individuals who were not suitably trained, idolaters, Gentiles, or a generation that does not cherish the Torah:

A treasure must not be revealed to everyone, so also with the precious words of Torah. One must not go into the deeper meaning of them, except in the presence of those individuals who are suitably trained. (y.Avodah Zarah 41d)

Rabbi Ammi said, “The teachings of the Torah are not to be transmitted to an idolater, for it is said [in Psalm 147:20], “He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them.” (b.Chagigah 15a)

Rabbi Hillel used to say, “If you see a generation that does not cherish the Torah, hold in your words.” 

Yeshua used very colourful and poetic language that would immediately invite a visceral response in his Jewish audience, when describing those who were not worthy of the treasures of Torah and His teachings. Of all non-kosher animals, the pig is far and away the most reviled by Jews.   It’s not just because it may not be eaten: there are plenty of other animals that aren’t kosher either, but none of them arouse as much disgust as the pig. Colloquially, the pig is the ultimate symbol of loathing; when you say that someone “acted like a chazir [pig],” it suggests that they did something unusually abominable. That is because, in Jewish thought, pigs symbolize deception and hypocrisy. There are two identifiers of a kosher animal: cud-chewing and split hooves. A cow is an example of an animal that fulfils both requirements, and is thus kosher. A horse is not kosher because it fulfils neither. There is only one animal in existence that appears kosher because it has split hooves, but is really not kosher because it doesn’t chew its cud — the pig. When it lies down, the pig stretches out its split hooves as if to fraudulently say, “See, I am kosher.” Pigs are intelligent and have the outward appearance of being ceremonially clean animals, but when you carefully examine their behaviour it reveals the true nature of the animal’s inward condition – it’s digestive system is not that of an animal that chews its cud. For Judaism, nothing could be worse than making a holy façade when your inside is unclean. To Jews, pigs represent hypocrites who display pious pretentions and profess to be holy and honourable but have a hidden unholy agenda. They are the self-righteous who claim to be rich in spirit and reject God’s righteousness. Never do this, not even once, don’t even think about throwing pearls to pigs.

Next, Yeshua taught us what we need to do in order to have the discernment needed in order to be free from any planks in our own eye, skilfully remove the painful splinter from our brother’s eye, avoid giving to dogs what is holy or throwing our precious pearls to pigs. It comes from our relationship with God, we need to ask, seek and knock.

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.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

Ask“, “seek“, and “knock” were all written in the Greek Present Imperative tense – they each command ongoing action that is repeated progressively and continuously to become a habitual lifestyle, a regular long-term way of acting. Ask and make it your frequent habit to keep asking. Seek and make it your frequent habit to keep seeking. Knock and make it your frequent habit to keep knocking.

Ask” comes from the Greek word αἰτέω – aiteō – it involves asking in keeping with an existing connection. Our connection to God is through Jesus Christ. He is the mediator of the new covenant by which we are called sons of God and can refer to Him as our Father in heaven. It is a covenant in which Jesus is both our saviour and Lord, so our asking is to be under His Lordship – ie as directed by Jesus. Asking for things to satisfy our fleshly desires or sinful nature is not in keeping with the nature of our connection to God. Jesus’ promise here is not to satisfy our lusts, but to empower us to be and do all that He is calling us to. David provides us with an example of asking in Psalm 139:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 BSB

Seek” comes from the Greek word ζητέω – zēteō – it involves seeking by inquiring, investigating to reach a binding resolution. It focuses on the moral attitude and internal convictions driving the seeker. Seeking God’s direction in His Word so as to come to a binding resolution of what we are to do next. Seeking God that we might truly know and walk with Him, reflecting His nature and bringing honour to His name. Our motives in the seeking are continually reviewed by the Lord and the promise of finding is dependent on pure motives, an undivided heart.

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Psalm 14:2 ESV

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 ESV

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Proverbs 8:17 ESV

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV

Knock” comes from the Greek word κρούω – krouō – and means to strike, to knock at a door. Having sort God’s will so that we now know which door He wants us to go through, we go to that door, knock and keep on knocking until it opens for us. What Jesus opens for us no man can shut.

“I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. “ Isaiah 22:22 BSB

Jesus said to the church in Philadelphia: “…See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut...” Revelation 3:8 BSB

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  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!” Matthew 7:9-11 NIV

We can come to God as our Father in the absolute assurance that He is good and will only ever give us good gifts. Our heavenly Father gives to those who seek Him all they need to live righteously. Yeshua made this even more explicit in a later sermon recorded by Luke:

So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! Luke 11:10 BSB

As we ask, seek and knock we receive what we need from our heavenly Father. He will never give us something worthless or harmful in place of what we are asking for.

In both sermons Yeshua referred to us as being “evil” πονηρός – ponērós – in the Greek, which means burdened pressed and harassed by toils, diseased, pain-ridden, heavy labours, annoyances, hardships and perils. All these things were the consequences of the fall in Genesis 3.

I will sharply increase your pain in childbirth; in pain you will bring forth children…. cursed is the ground because of you; through toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it will yield for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your bread... ” Genesis 3:16-19

The other meaning of πονηρός – ponērós – is second-rate or worthless. This describes our position in contrast to God who is holy and perfect and worthy of all glory, honour and praise. Yet, despite our inherent comparative worthlessness as sinful creatures, God places such great value on us as to send His holy Son to die for us.

Yeshua described the gifts we give when providing bread and fish to our children, in contrast to our pain-ridden worthless nature, as “good” ἀγαθόςagathós – in the Greek. ἀγαθόςagathós means inherently intrinsically good in its character or constitution and beneficial in its effect, bringing health and joy. It describes what originates from God in our lives, as indeed God created both grains and fish to nourish our bodies and enable a child to be healthy and grow. In asking for bread or fish the son is requesting something that is inherently good for him, and even pain-ridden human fathers who are burdened, pressed and harassed by toils and hardships will respond by giving their son this good that he needs and not something worthless like a rock or harmful like a snake. How much more so will our heavenly Father give us what we need to be nourished when we ask Him for it?

“Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 CJB

Yeshua had a way of making things simple, yet profound. The Jewish sages had complicated things, teasing out 613 “Torah  mitzvot  (commandments)” from the books of Moses, but Yeshua condensed it all into one: “always treat others as you would like them to treat you.” In everything, make sure that every action you undertake involves doing for others what you would like them to do for you. Just as a father gives good gifts to his son, and our heavenly Father continually lavishes good gifts on us as we habitually ask, seek and knock – so we are to continually do to all others.

The implications of this single command are so transformative for society that it has been called the “Golden Rule”. Imagine what your community would be like if everyone lived like this. Imagine what your nation would be like if all those in power and with money lived like this. Imagine what the world would be like if we all followed this one command. There would be no more wars or brutality, no more poverty or hunger, no more slavery, rape, slaughter or theft. All children would be loved and cared for, all elderly would be honoured and assisted. This is the law of the kingdom of heaven and the fulfilment of the commandments.

 “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ” Matthew 7:13-14 CJB

Go in” – from the Greek Εἰσέλθετε eiÎseÑrxomai – means come into, or enter into for an important purpose, it stresses the purpose (result) of the entering in. It was written in the Greek Aorist Imperative tense which commands the action to reach completion, do this immediately and decisively.

through” – from the Greek διά – diá – meaning to go all the way through, “successfully across”. Not stopping half way, not sitting on the fence trying to be in two places at once. Go all the way through the narrow gate, total commitment to that path alone, leaving every other way behind.

narrow gate” – from the Greek στενόςstenós – meaning narrow (from obstacles standing close about) or strait; and πύληpylē – which is a feminine noun in the Greek and refers to an exit door or gate with the focus on what proceeds out of it (the masculine noun pylon referring to an entrance gate – opportunity to go into something).

So, Yeshua is saying “enter in to His way through the narrow exit from where you are”. The gate that leads to life is an exit from all the ways of the world. It is a narrow exit – to get through it we have to leave everything behind. We cannot carry the things of this world through that gate, so many choose instead the wide gate that allows them to carry all their worldly longings, lusts, pride, possessions, ambitions and sins. To “always treat others as you would like them to treat you” sounds simple, but the cost to our own personal ambitions is so great that most refuse this narrow path and choose instead the popular, broad highway that allows them to carry all their fleshly desires with them.

That broad way most choose leads to “destruction” – from the Greek ἀπώλεια apṓleia – which comes from the Greek word apollymi meaning to “cut off”. It speaks of destruction where someone is completely cut off from what could or should have been. It is not a ceasing to exist, but an existence that is cut off from all that we were created for. It focuses on what is forfeited, or lost, by the choice made. It is the total destruction, ruin and waste of a life that results from being utterly detached from our potential, completely detached from God and His purposes for our life. In trying to keep what we have, we loose everything we could be.

In this version the road the leads to life is described as “hard“, several other versions translate it as “narrow“. The Greek word θλίβω – thlibō – means to squeeze, to press together (as grapes in making wine), to crush, squash, hem in, compress, press hard upon, a compressed or narrow way; metaphorically it refers to trouble, affliction or distress. It is not the easy life that leads to the fulfilment of what God created us for, eternal life, but the narrow, pressed in, squeezed, difficult, afflicted and distressed pathway. The track to the mountaintop is not a broad highway but a difficult, steep narrow path. That is why so few choose to follow it. Yeshua urges each one of us to be among those few, for the alternative is to be totally cut off from all that we were created for.

Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves!   You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?   Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit.   A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit.   Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire!   So you will recognize them by their fruit.  Matthew 7:15-20 CJB

Having exhorted His audience to go into the kingdom of heaven through the narrow gate, Yeshua now warns against those who would suggest that the wide gate and easy, comfortable route can lead to life – false prophets. He spoke of things that they all knew well, wolves & sheep, grapes & thorn bushes, figs & thistles, and trees that bear fruit. Yeshua often explained spiritual principles using things of the natural world that His listeners could see all around them.

In verse 6 we learn to discern not to give the spiritual treasures of Christ’s deep teaching to those who are like dogs or pigs, and now we are warned not to receive teaching from those who are like wolves in sheep’s clothing, thorn bushes, thistles or trees bearing bad fruit.

False prophets” comes from the Greek ψευδοπροφήτης – pseudoprophḗtēs – those who specializes in the art of misimpression, acting the part of a divinely inspired prophet, pretending to speak the word of the Lord while uttering falsehoods. A phony, an imposter, who claims to have been commissioned by God to spread their teaching and in Jesus’s name, but deceitfully declares untruths as they operate by self and for self. We will know them by their fruit, they refuse to enter by the narrow gate or walk the crushing path of treating others the way they would like to be treated.

 “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants.  On that Day, many will say to me, `Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’  Then I will tell them to their faces, `I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!'”  Matthew 7:21-23 CJB

Yeshua masterfully brings our attention back to our own state before God. Yes, we need to discern dogs and pigs so as to avoid a dishonouring of the holy and the highly valued treasures, and we need to discern false prophets so as not to be led astray by them, but we have no business judging if others will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Once again we are brought back to the place of checking our own eyes for logs. Paul, as an apostle, took this warning seriously:

 I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 BSB

It is good to call Jesus “Lord”, to prophesy and cast out demons and do miracles in His name. All these things are needful, but they are not our qualification for the kingdom of heaven – that comes from a depth of relationship which is demonstrated in lives of obedience to the Father’s will, demonstrated in the practical display of God’s love that treats others as we would like them to treat us. To call Jesus “Lord” while failing to obey His word is to live a lie – regardless of how many “good” or “spiritual” things we might say or do. We do not get to enter the Kingdom of Heaven on our terms but on His. Our relationship to God is demonstrated in how we relate to others.

 Beloved friends, let us love one another; because love is from God; and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God.  Those who do not love, do not know God; because God is love. … God is love; and those who remain in this love remain united with God, and God remains united with them. …  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen, then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Yes, this is the command we have from him: whoever loves God must love his brother too. 1 John 4:7-8, 16b, 20-21

Again, we’re brought back to that place of recognising our own spiritual poverty and needing to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Sitting on a rock on that mountain just outside Capernaum, overlooking the Sea of Galilee where ferocious storms could arise and down whose slopes flooding rains could turn into destructive torrents, Yeshua spoke of the house that could survive any onslaught and that which was doomed to collapse when the elements turned against it.

So, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on bedrock.  The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the winds blew and beat against that house, but it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand.  The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the wind blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed — and its collapse was horrendous!” Matthew 7:24-27 CJB

Each and every person who hears ἀκούω – akoúō – gives attention to, carefully considers and understands the full meaning of Yeshua’s words is building a house. The treasure of His words provides all the materials for building a very fine and large house. Yet, not every large house remains intact. Each and every one of our lives will be assailed by storms. Those storms will reveal what foundation we have built our house on.

It is not enough to just hear Yeshua’s words, not enough to just memorise them. Unlike the Hellenizers’ exhortation of “knowledge”, the Jews focused on how that knowledge was demonstrated in the way a person lived. The Jewish religion had never been a matter of saying that one believed in God but of demonstrating that belief through obedience to Torah in every aspect of daily life. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah (70-135AD) lived and taught in the years following the destruction of the (second) Beth Hamikdosh (temple) by the Romans, and expressed this fundamental principal of Judaism thus:

“The man whose knowledge exceeds his works, to whom is he like? He is like a tree which had many branches, and only a few roots; and, when the stormy winds came, it was plucked up and eradicated. But he whose good works are greater than his knowledge, to what is he like? He is like a tree which had few branches, and many roots; so that all the winds of heaven could not move it from its place.”

Following Jesus is not a matter of what we say that we believe, but of how we demonstrate our belief in the way we live. Disciples did not just learn their rabbi’s teachings, they lived their rabbi’s ways. Daniel had revealed something of this rock as the Kingdom of Heaven:

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.” Daniel 2:44-45a NIV

When Yeshua had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way he taught, for He was not instructing them like their Torah-teachers but as one who had authority Himself. Matthew 7:28-29 CJB

Yeshua had delivered the edicts for His kingdom, with the authority of kingship. It is a kingdom established in holiness and built on love. A kingdom whose every subject is to exude the nature of the Father in all we do and say. A kingdom of those set apart for the Father’s glory and filled with His righteousness, manifesting itself in continual acts of love for others, treating them as we would like to be treated.  This had been the most strict, pure, holy, profound, and sublime sermon ever delivered to man; and yet so amazingly simple that a child could apprehend it! The young tax-collector, Matthew, had drunk in every word and taken meticulous notes. He’d never been terribly impressed with religious teachers before, but there was something so different about Yeshua – He was one that Matthew would like to follow, but no one in Israel would ask a despised tax collector to be their disciple.

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9. Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary Matthew 7. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: July 24th, 2020.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/clarke/matthew/7.htm.
10. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* How would you describe the difference between the judgment of others that Jesus forbids and the discernment of others that He commands?
* Describe an example that you have seen of someone with a ‘log/beam’ in their eye trying to remove the ‘splinter’ from another’s eye, and what damage they caused. Then describe an example when the person had dealt with the wrong in their own life and skilfully and compassionately removed a ‘splinter’ from another’s eye.
* What things do you think are logs or splinters?
* Jesus spoke about dogs and pigs because of how they were thought of in Jewish culture at that time. If He was speaking in your city or village, what animals do you think Jesus would use to illustrate those who have no appreciation for what is holy and for those who display a holy façade but have an unholy hidden agenda?
* What is the purpose of asking, seeking and knocking?
* Fish and bread were the stable foods for those who lived on the shores of the sea of Galilee. What are the stable foods in your community, the ones every child is told are most essential for growing strong and having the energy to work? What foods would Jesus have described a son asking for in your region?
* In Jesus’ day you had to go through the city gates of Jerusalem to go into or out from the city. Some of those gates were larger, and some were smaller. To go out through the city gate would take you away from the safety and security of the city to start your journey. The roads to other cities were wide and many travelled on them so they were considered to be the safest routs, yet Jesus told us to choose the narrow, difficult, way – can you describe when Jesus has called you to leave the security of what you know and risk all to follow Him?
* Both grapes and figs are very sweet fruit that many farmers grew around the Capernaum area. Grapes were also used to make wine. What fruits and thorny plants in your area would Jesus talk about to illustrate the difference between true and false prophets?
* What insights have people in your congregation shared with you from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7?

Author: Anita

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:26-30 ESV These verses are the story of my life. A shy, introverted woman who didn't know how to relate to others and had a fear of anyone in authority - foolish, weak, low and despised. The most unlikely candidate for any position of leadership. But God delights to choose such, to take those who are not and make them something in Christ, to do the impossible through the unlikely. In 2006 Jesus sent me to the nations with His glorious gospel to set the captives free and prepare His bride for the wedding of the Lamb.

One thought on “Discernment Sayings”

  1. 1. I will describe the difference between the judgment of others that Jesus forbids and the discernment of others that He commands as per below points:
    All prejudices are based in unrighteous judgment of others, while pre- judging others on the basis of their colour or race, tribe, gender, social status, height, weight, disability, wealth, education, literacy, age, health, language, nationality or any other worldly attribute is an unrighteous judgment, as in response to all these Jesus taught them not to “Do not judge so that you will not be judged ” and treat people the same way you want them to treat you. (Matthew 7:1 &12)
    The actual reality of life and and mankind is that “none of us wants to be pre – judged on the basis of what someone thinks ” all human beings are like. “Don’t judge” was written in the Negated Greek present imperative tense, meaning this action must be stopped if it is already underway and constantly avoided, continually resisted . We as to keep resisting the temptation to wrongly judge others or to try divert attention from our sins by focusing on those of others. We must notice that in denouncing judgment of others Jesus Christ our Lord was not advocating blindly accepting everything others say or do, he was not advocating a permissiveness that accepts every sin as though it were righteousness and every evil as though it were goodness. Rather, He was commanding us to clean up our own act first , before helping others deal with their sin. In our African churches today, people try to hide their own sins behind condemn action of others, thinking they can make themselves look more righteousness by drawing attention to the sins of others and demanding such be punished harshly and eradicated.
    2. There was a time when we started a local Church in Monrovia and a young man coming up and very zealous for the work of God, we made a law that no one should commit sin, especially sins of fornication and adultery, drunkenness etc. In the cause of that one of our brothers who was the choir leader committed and adultery, when the news reached to the Church, we took a quick action without having second taught, and such our quick action drove the brother from the church, even though he left, he later joined another church and repented and became a pastor, However, this brother dealt with the wrong his life own life and skilfully and compassionately removed a “splinter” from his own eye.
    3. A ” log” ( i e dokos, in Greek) is a beam of timber, a plank of wood such as is used in weight bearing capacity in construction. It is large and thick and unyielding. One difference between a splinter and a log is that because of its size, we can ( or, at least, should be able to see and remove the log from our own eyes it is that massive protruding out from the front of our face whereas we cannot see a little splinter in our own eye, just feel the pain of it, and need another’s assistance to remove it. To sum up the things I do consider logs or splinter are sin we commit in our lives daily.
    4. If Jesus was to be in my village and speaking to my people the animals I think Jesus will talk about goat and pig for in our culture these animals are abomination or forbidden to eat.
    5. The purpose of asking, seeking and knocking is that we need to be persistent in pursuing God, people often give up after halfhearted efforts and conclude that God cannot be found. But knowing God takes faith, focus, and follow – through, and Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded. Don’t give up in your efforts to seek God, continue to ask him for more knowledge, patience, wisdom, love, and understanding. He will give them to you.
    6. Rice and palm nuts soup is the stable foods in my community, Christ would have described as son asking the for from his father, as it wildly been consumed by the population.
    7. Most of us in Liberia know what it means to walk on a tiny village path earth early in the morning during rainy season we have to carefully make our way through the wet morning grass. Unlike the village path, the highways in cities are much bigger and more populated . Many people can drive and walk on the same road at the same time . The highway is more comfortable than village path. Jesus warns that the road the road leading to eternal life is like the village path, narrow, and difficult. The road to destruction however, is broad and comfortable, so many people choose it.
    8. Unlike the Jewish country, grapes and figs are not familiar to us, as we don’t have them here, but we have such as mango and orange, so Jesus would have used these fruits between true and false prophets in my region.
    9. The insights people in my congregation have shared about Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7 are as follows:
    1. They have learned not to judge others v. 1-6
    2. They have learned about effective prayer verses 7-8
    3. The golden rule v. 12
    4. The narrow gates v.13
    5. The tree and its fruit
    6. The true disciple
    7. Building on a solid rock foundation

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