Doctors, electricians and CPAs all have something in common. They all have to pass certifications in order to practice their professions. They reached the benchmark by passing exams and practicing their trade.
How do people know if they are leading a life pleasing to God? A life is formed by the choices one makes, so how does one make choices that please God? No comprehensive checklist of things to do to please God exists, but in Matthew 7:1-27 Jesus describes choices his disciples will make in a life right with God.
Judging or judgmental? (Matthew 7:1-6)
More than likely, the opening verses of Matthew 6 are the verses most frequently taken out of context. “Do not judge.” It sounds like it could be one of the Ten Commandments. It’s short, direct, and clear. Do not judge. Enough said, right?
Wrong. In verses 3-5, Jesus explains how to judge someone else, namely in a nonhypocritical manner. Why would Jesus describe how someone is to judge another if judging were a sin? He wouldn’t. Judging is not the sin but being judgmental is. The person’s attitude is all-important when examining others. Judging should be done in a loving way that is helpful to the other person, so the other person will receive it well (v. 6).
Ask, seek, knock (Matthew 7:7-8)
Judging should not be done without prayer. In these verses, Jesus was not describing one prayer but a lifestyle and attitude in prayer. With this statement, Jesus reminded his followers that part of prayer is about making requests of God.
Asking is petitioning God for something or someone. It is a simple request. Jesus then added the word “seek.” When a person seeks something, action is wedded to the request. There is a greater sense of urgency about the petition.
The last word Jesus used was knock. When someone knocks at a door, a sense of persistence is noted. Prayer requests that are active and persistent further one’s relationship with God, and they receive God’s approval.
God gives good gifts (Matthew 7:9-12)
What the petitioner receives are good gifts. God gives good gifts. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James. 1:17).
In verse 12, Jesus appended the Golden Rule to the verses about God’s giving. Just as God gives good gifts, so too are his disciples. Followers of Jesus are to give good to others whether it is good things, good will, good attitudes or good actions. God works for good of those who seek him, and his followers work for the good of others they meet.
The narrow and wide gates (Matthew 7:13-14)
Doing to others what you would have them do to you is difficult. Following Jesus is difficult. Jesus described it as entering a small gate and walking on a narrow road. Few find this narrow and difficult road, but this road leads to life.
Many enter through the wide gate and take the broad road that leads to destruction in life. This is the easy road, yet it is a difficult way of life. It is difficult, because it is not life. The broad road is an imitation life. It is a fake.
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False prophets and judging, again (Matthew 7:15-20)
Naturally, there will be people who seek to lead Jesus’ disciples astray from the narrow road. These false prophets look innocent like sheep, but in reality they seek to devour the faithful as ferocious wolves.
How does one avoid these false prophets? By judging which prophets to follow and which to avoid. Just as harvesters make judgments or decisions about which fruit to pick from their trees, so too will God’s followers make judgment or decisions about what teachers to follow.
The most frightening verses in the Bible (Matthew 7:21-23)
At this point in Matthew 7, Jesus gives the strongest warning possible to any who would desire to follow him. On Judgment day, many will claim Jesus as Lord, meaning that they claim to be one of his followers. Jesus will accept a few. Many claiming Jesus as Lord will list their accomplishments for the kingdom. They will have done many good works.
Jesus’ reply will be: “I never knew you.” The word “knew” entails relationship. Many of those who did good works for God did so without any relationship with Jesus. Believing in Jesus and accepting him as Savior is about relationship. These who believe they are saved base their belief on their works. Good works do not save. People are saved by God’s grace through faith and not by deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).
How many in our churches will hear Jesus say, “away from me.” Those are truly frightening words.
Foundations of life (Matthew 7:24-27)
Jesus concluded Matthew 7 and the Sermon on the Mount with a simple illustration from everyday life. Those who heard his words and practiced them would be like a builder who built upon a strong foundation. The house this builder made would withstand severe storms.
Those who did not put Jesus’ words into practice would be like a builder who built upon a weak foundation. The house this made would not withstand severe storms.
Everyone will experience difficulties or storms in life. One’s foundation in life will determine how well this person will survive the storm. They key is putting Jesus’ words into practice. Many people have heard Jesus’ words and know his teaching, but Jesus requires that his followers act in accordance with his teaching. These people will live on the narrow road and find acceptance on the day of judgment. They will be welcomed by their friend, Jesus.