How are disciples supposed to relate to the world of non-disciples? How do Jesus’ instructions in Matthew chapters 5 and 6 impact our relationships with God and with other people? Jesus says some things that are difficult to interpret, but in the end the principle is simple to understand even if difficult to apply.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:1-12 ESV)
I found it interesting that Bonhoeffer commented on this section as a whole. It is easy to break into pieces, but in doing that we might miss the parallel to the great commandment and the connection with Jesus’ final instruction in this section.
Judge not. We judge for many reasons. At the worst, I might judge to make myself feel superior. I might also want to give myself a reason for not sacrificing for the benefit of another. Our natural inclination is the classify and exclude. I don’t want to be put down and I want to be included. Jesus was not concerned about either of these things. His desire was that everyone know Him and gave His life in the most disgusting way possible to make that happen. If Jesus did any evaluation of us before going to the cross He would have rightly determined that none of us was worth dying for. When Jesus looks at us He sees our need and opportunities to love us. Is that what we see when we look at our spouses, children, friends, and neighbors?
I just finished reading Unbroken, the story of Louie Zamperini. I highly recommend the book, but wish the author had spent as much time describing the latter part of his life as she spent describing his war experience. Louie was a rebellious and strong-willed child. After his war experience he sank into alcoholism and almost destroyed his life. He was saved when he connected a message from Billy Graham with God’s presence in his life all through all his experiences. His responses were many, but one of them was to open a camp for troubled youth who no one seemed to be able to connect with. It is apparent that Louie shared the gospel with those who came to the camp, but what really made the difference was that Louie loved the youth who were sent his way. He did things with them and taught them how to live. His camp seems to have practiced come as you are, but don’t stay that way. I think that is what Jesus is saying when He challenges us to not to throw our pearls before pigs.
Where does God fit into all this? As we’re trying to love as Jesus loved we are going to be challenged and given our humanity we’re going to fail. What do we do then? We reach out to our loving heavenly Father and trust that out of His goodness He will supply whatever we need. So, as we draw close to Jesus we don’t pull away from the world. Instead, we reach out in love and do our best to include everyone. We have experienced what it is to be loved when we were unlovable. How can we do any less?