************ Sermon on Matthew 7:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 6, 2018
"Do Not Throw Your Pearls to Pigs"
Difficult Verses # 2
This is now our second message on difficult verses in the Bible. In our first message we looked at the sin against the Holy Spirit. This evening we look at throwing pearls to pigs. Or, as one commentator puts it, this evening we look at "dogs and hogs."
Our Bible reading is often misused and misunderstood and misapplied because people take one little verse and see it in isolation rather than as part of a total package.
I You are Not Supposed to Judge
A "You are not supposed to judge." That's what lots of people take away from our Bible reading. And totally misunderstand the entire passage and the difficult text in front of us.
"You are not supposed to judge." This phrase is a good description of our age, isn't it?! We live in an age and in a time that generally abhors the making of judgments. We live in an age that accepts all and rejects none. We live in an age of accommodation and compromise. Our age dislikes strong men with strong opinions. It has no room for determined women who know what they believe and stick to that belief. It does not tolerate those who are willing to rock the boat because of their beliefs. It has little use for those who have strong principles, the courage of their convictions, and a clear sense of right and wrong.
"You are not supposed to judge." Our society has taken this to new heights. We have reached the point where teachers are discouraged from grading a student's performance, parents are forbidden from spanking or disciplining their children, and those who work with youth are forbidden from ever suggesting certain behaviors or lifestyles are unacceptable.
"You are not supposed to judge." Modern Americans suffer from a fear of judging. Passing judgment on the behavior or beliefs of fellow human beings is considered an act of medieval, undemocratic intolerance. And intolerance, today, is viewed as the worst of sins.
"You are not supposed to judge." Unfortunately, this kind of attitude has slipped into the church as well. We are told that for the sake of the unity of the church a Christian should be indulgent and tolerant and refrain from criticism. There should only be respect for and appreciation of different opinions and lifestyles. Theological differences should be accepted without argument. Disharmony resulting in schisms should be avoided at all costs. I heard this all the time before we joined the URC. Those who talk this way have no place for theology, doctrine, and dogma because these can only lead to judgments of right and wrong, truth and lies, orthodoxy and heresy. Strong opinions, it seems, have no place in the church either. It has come to the point that many churches have little use for those who have strong principles, the courage of their convictions, and a clear sense of right and wrong.
"You are not supposed to judge." I would like to suggest that what is needed is more -- not less -- judgment.
B "You are not supposed to judge." I want to ask you, is that what Jesus is saying here?
I can't remember the number of times sincere Christians have told me it is wrong to judge. And, they all point to Matthew 7:1.
"You are not supposed to judge." If this is the correct interpretation of Matthew 7:1, then it would be in direct conflict with what follows in verse 15 where Jesus warns us to watch out for false prophets who appear in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. They appear to be very harmless and honest and invariably are "very nice." They look like Christians and sound like Christians. But we are not to be taken in by them. To be on guard against them demands a judging mind.
"You are not supposed to judge." If this is the correct interpretation, then we would be in direct conflict with many other verses in the Bible. In one of his letters the Apostle John writes, "Test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (1 Jn 4:1). Morever, the letters of the apostles are filled with admonitions pointing to the necessity of judging (Gal 1:8; 1 Cor 5:12f; 2 Tim 2:17-18; etc.).
"You are not supposed to judge." If this is really the case then the Spiritual gift of discernment is a waste. Those with this gift are able to judge quickly and rightly between right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral, truth and falsehood, light and darkness. In fact, they are given this gift so they can make such judgments for the good and safety and protection of the entire church.
"You are not supposed to judge." If that is really the case, then how is the church to go about exercising discipline? If that is really the case, then how is the state to go about punishing criminals and restraining evil? If this is really the case, then teachers should not grade papers and tests, no citizen should sit on a jury, no dictator should ever be called to account, and we should not be fighting the war against terror. If this is really the case, then there would be no need for forgiveness or apologies because both imply that behavior has been judged to be wrong or inappropriate.
"You are not supposed to judge." If this is what Jesus is teaching us, then parents can't be parents any more. You see, parents are called upon to make judgments each and every single day. We judge our children's behavior, actions, attitude, and words. How else can we admonish them when they are wrong, encourage them when they are right, and teach them how to lead the Christian life?
I hope that everyone here realizes by now that it is incorrect to make the blanket statement, "You are not supposed to judge." When we refuse to make judgments, do you know what we are doing? We are giving in to the weak and spineless spirit of this age that gives in to everything, tolerates anything, and opposes nothing.
II Wrong Kinds of Judging
A "You are not supposed to judge." Wrong. We are called to make judgments. However, we cannot make the wrong kind of judgments.
The Bible is very clear about the kind of judging we are not to do. We are not to take the place of the government. It is not for us to make legal judgments. It is not for us to carry out legal judgments. It is the job of the courts to carry out the eye for eye and tooth for tooth that Jesus talks of in Matthew 5.
B The Bible also forbids hasty judgments. According to Proverbs 18:13, he who answers before listening -- that is his folly and his shame. The Bible forbids us to make judgments before we have all the facts and have carefully investigated a matter.
C The Bible forbids unjust judgments. We are not to condemn someone simply to gain favor, or because we don't like them, or when we know it is not the right thing to do.
D The Bible forbids judgments based upon false human standards. Some of the Colossians were doing that. They judged new believers by what they ate or drank, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day (Col 2:16). The same thing happened in the church of Rome. They made judgments based upon matters that are indifferent. But Paul says this is wrong. "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking," he says, "but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17).
E The Bible also forbids individual Christians to pronounce judgments in a final sense. The Greek word for judging in our text literally means "acting as a judge." Its specific meaning is "to pass a verdict or pronounce sentence; to declare that a person is guilty." So what Jesus is warning against is the terrible sin of condemning, of pronouncing judgment, in terms of hell.
The best example of this kind of judgment is the Pharisees. The Pharisees were so quick to judge their fellowman. For instance, they threw out of the synagogue the blind man who was healed by Jesus (Jn 9:34). They looked down upon the common people and Gentiles who did not know the law. Think of the picture of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18. The self-righteous Pharisee was so quick to judge and condemn:
(Lk 18:11) The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men -- robbers, evildoers, adulterers -- or even like this tax collector.'They thought of themselves as sitting upon the judgment seat of Moses. Actually, what they were doing was placing themselves on the throne of God. It is this kind of judging we are not to do.
The New Testament makes it painfully clear that this attitude was not confined to the Pharisees. It was something that constantly troubled the early Church; and it is something that troubles the Church today too.
"Do not judge." "Do not place yourself on the throne of God." We need to take this to heart. If we are honest with ourselves we must confess that in our lives there too often is a readiness to condemn. Too often we not only criticize someone's opinion but go a step further and criticize and condemn the person too. It is this kind of judging we are not to do.
F Those who do the wrong kind of judging fail to show love. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul tells us love is patient. But a judgmental spirit is impatient. Love is kind. But a judgmental spirit is unkind. Love is not rude. But a judgmental spirit is always rude. Love is not easily angered. But a judgmental spirit is easily angered. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes. But a judgmental spirit constantly attacks, never trusts, and always hopes for the worst. We are not to have this kind of judgmental spirit.
III Make Careful Judgments
A I think you realize by now that we are called upon to make judgments. However, as we look at Matthew 7 we see that Jesus teaches us four reasons to be careful in our judging.
First of all, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Don't make the mistake of thinking about this in a horizontal direction; see this is terms of the vertical -- you and God. If we condemn others, than our Lord will condemn us. Though we are Christians, and are justified by faith, and have an assurance of salvation, and know we are going to heaven when we die, we will be passed through a purifying flame by the Lord if we condemn others. When you condemn others you are exposing yourself to judgment and will have to answer to the Lord for those things. You will stand ashamed before the Lord.
B There is also a second reason we have to be careful in judging. "Do not judge," says Jesus. "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Again, we are dealing with the vertical -- our relationship with God -- rather than the horizontal -- our relationship with man. Which means that God will judge us, His children, according to our own standards. If you are quick to condemn others for greed, the Lord will hold out all the greed in your life. If you are quick to condemn the anger of others, the Lord will put on display all the anger in your life. But if you have been slow to condemn and quick to forgive, then the Lord will be the same way with you. If you have been righteous in all your ways, then the Lord will deal righteously with you.
C And then there is a third reason why we have to be careful in judging. Jesus says,
(Mt 7:3) "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?Nobody with a beam in his eye can see things clearly. That is the problem here. They can't look at those around them clearly. Nor can they look at themselves clearly.
For this reason, we must underline the word "look" in verse 3. Jesus speaks in our passage of people who look for wrong in the lives of others. They seem to derive a malicious sort of pleasure from putting their finger on the weak spots in the lives of their neighbors. It is almost as if they enjoy spotting evil, wrong, and things they disagree with.
Here is another problem. They are so absorbed with looking for the evil in the lives of those around them that they become totally blind to their own faults.
Jesus reminds us that we can never judge another without first judging ourselves. That way we can never consider ourselves above a brother or a sister who is struggling with a sin in their life. And, once we know our own sinful heart, then we are more mild and careful and prudent in our judgment of others. And, when we do have to admonish, we do so as a co-sinner, as an equally fallen saint. In this way we treat each other as brothers and sisters and as equals in the Lord. None of us, in other words, can consider ourselves as being better than others.
I am reminded of what Jesus said when a woman caught in adultery was dragged before Him: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." That's a good thing to keep in mind. None of us are without sin. All of us are also fully deserving of the wrath of God.
D And then there is a fourth reason we need to be careful in our judging. "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."
Dogs in those days were not the household pets and lap-dogs of today that people play and travel with. Jesus is thinking of the mongrels that roamed the cities, ate garbage, and even attacked and ate people. The Jews believed them to be filthy. Unclean. In the psalms they threaten, howl, snarl. Sacred things are not thrown to dogs. What are the sacred things? You don't throw to dogs the burnt offerings given to God.
The same thing is true of pigs. Pigs were the Ancient World's garbage disposal. They ate anything and everything -- including people. There was nothing cute about them. You don't throw pearls to pigs. They don't appreciate them. They couldn't care less pearls are expensive and rare and beautiful.
Now, what exactly is Jesus saying to us. He is telling us NOT to waste the riches of the Gospel on those who do not appreciate them. Which requires judgment and discernment.
A number of years ago I was asked to give a talk about what I do in my job. Now everyone there knows I am a Christian. I knew some were there who would mock and despise if I talked again about Christ and the Gospel. I chose not to give them that opportunity. You know what I said my job was? I said it was my job to prepare people for eternity. I said everyone was going to die and I wanted them to be ready. The Christians, of course, knew exactly what I was saying: you are ready if you know Jesus.
Don't give sacred things to dogs. Don't throw pearls to pigs. When a heretic comes to your door, don't let him in your house. You might say, "What about his soul? Maybe I can win him to the Lord." That is God's business, not yours. As for you, exercise judgment: don't let dogs and hogs trample on pearls or sacred things. Don't open you door to heretics like JWs or Mormons thinking you will evangelize them. They are so brainwashed they will never listen to you.
Do you think I am being harsh and judgmental in saying this? Let me direct you to Acts 18. Paul went and preached to the Jews at Corinth and they opposed Paul and became abusive. Paul said, "Your blood be on your own heads ... From now on I will go to the Gentiles." Paul did not throw sacred things to dogs or pearls to hogs.
Think now of Jesus. Jesus was patient with Peter. Jesus took the time to speak to Thomas. He went to the home of Zacchaeus. He talked with Mary & Martha. But He did not say one single word to Herod Antipas. Why not? Because that is throwing sacred things to dogs and pearls to hogs.
The Lord does call us to make judgments. But, we have to make sure we do the right kind -- not the wrong kind -- of judging. We have to make sure we don't throw sacred things to dogs and pearls to hogs.
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