Friday after the Second Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. Matthew 7:1-14 (NKJV)
7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being 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! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
This text should be interpreted in light of Scripture where Christians are directed to judge. In today’s text we are told the Christian is not to be self-righteous or hypocritical in judging, as can be seen from verse five. Scripture repeatedly exhorts believers to evaluate carefully and choose between good and bad people and things—but based only on God’s Word and will, not human prejudice and arrogance.
This is the same thing this text is doing with its talk of logs and specks, for we must remember that we are all wretched sinners before the Lord’s judgment throne. None would be saved and all harshly judged if not for Jesus Christ and grace. If we allow ourselves to be guided by the Golden Rule, then agape love will prevail and judgment will be based on what is best for the neighbor in regard to eternal salvation. Judgments are to be made with the goal of producing repentance and securing forgiveness within the context of Jesus Christ and His cross.
In the middle of this discourse on righteous judgment our Lord presents a lesson that teaching should be given in accordance with the spiritual capacity of the learners while making the point that our heavenly Father will always give us what is good for us. This is obvious from the example of earthly fathers who in their sin-fallen state are far from perfect, but are still able to give good gifts to their children.
Heavenly Father, give us the grace and wisdom to judge rightly and above all mercifully. Always remembering that we come before You forgiven purely by grace through Christ, for we daily sin much. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.