Thursday, October 02, 2003

Sawdust & Two-by-Fours

This is part 6 of series of essays on what Jesus says about judging others. To start from the beginning, click here.

Protecting What is Valuable

This brings us to the last section of Jesus' teaching on judgment:

Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)

This is an important section, because it says that mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and other nice things are insufficient to deal with all situations. There are dogs and pigs out there and we need to identify them and protect our valuables and ourselves from them. I understand dogs to represent those who are opposed to the gospel. Pigs represent unclean things. We must discern both.

Let's take a simple case. In the section on removing specks from other people's eyes, I quoted the following verse:

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. (Matthew 18:15)

Here is the rest of the passage:

But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or tax collector. (Matthew 18:16-17)

You can begin with mercy and keeping issues private. But if that does not work and the situation warrants it, you bring in others to help. Eventually you notify the entire body. If that does not provide a satisfactory resolution, the individual must be asked to leave. In other words, mercy has its limits. Paul's letter to the Corinthian church gives us an example:

It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you? For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were present. When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

It seems that the Corinthian church was proud of its mercy and tolerance. The problem is that unlimited mercy to those who do not respond will corrupt the entire church. The pearls get trampled under foot.

Besides protecting the body from un-repented sin, we need to protect the body from the unmerciful among us. This is illustrated by this story:

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pick the grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry— how he entered the house of God and they ate the sacred bread, which was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are not guilty? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. (Matthew 12:1-7)

We need to protect people from wrong doctrines, especially concerning salvation:

But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell! As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell! (Galatians 1:8-9)

Conclusion

Here are Jesus' words one more time:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:1-6)

I think that it is safe to say that we should emphasize, along with Jesus, that we avoid judging others. This especially true of judging that leads to gossip or creates divisions in the church. Judging pushes people away and places them beyond hope. We are to mature through a study of the Scriptures and the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, and then we are to help others along. Unfortunately, there are the dogs and pigs that we must recognize and protect ourselves and others from.

I began this series with a story from John Wimber. You may remember the woman who was coming to him a third time to be healed of a sexually transmitted disease. When he saw her approach, he said to himslef, "Not this time. Not again." However, as that thought formed another voice in him said, "Do not place limits on God's mercy." He repented and prayed for the woman. God healed her this third time. As I recall, she then began attending John's church, heard the gospel, and found salvation.

Friday: Reconnecting with Job

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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