When we judge someone it is not to pronounce a sentence upon their spirituality but to discern it and learn best how to minister to that person. Some people are not fit to answer in the same way Jesus refused to answer King Herod. If we consider God’s word as holy and precious then we will be wise in how we use it. This is what Jesus speaks of when He says:
“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. 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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 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!” (Matthew 7:6-11)
Let me make a side note for a minute if I may. You may have noticed that I always remove the verse numbers from the Scripture passages I use; it is for a reason. Too often we mentally break at each verse number because that is how we’ve been taught to read. And if you look at today’s passage between verses 6 & 7 there is a subtitle which gives us reason to think the Lord is changing subjects. He is not; He has purposely begun speaking of prayer because that is how we attain the discernment He expects of us.
Okay, back to what the Lord is teaching us. Too often we learn a “method” of evangelism or apologetics, one that we are most comfortable with, and we use it in a cookie-cutter approach as though one size fits all when it comes to the gospel and ministering to others. This is not the model of Christ. He did not talk to the women at the well in the same manner He talked with Nicodemus.
And too often when we have this singular approach we tend to get a bit testy if people are not seeing things our way. When we clearly explain Biblical truth to someone and they don’t get we just assume they are lost forever and cast them away to be lost to the Devil. This is not the judgment Jesus expects of us; this is giving up! Read what Warren Wiersbe wrote in commenting on this passage:
The reason for judgment, then, is not that we might condemn others, but that we might be able to minister to them. Notice that Jesus always dealt with individuals according to their needs and their spiritual condition.
This is the approach we must take and this is why Jesus seems to interrupt His teaching with a call on us to fervently pray to the Father for the discernment we need to be effective ministers. And we must do so in a manner that is persistent to the point of seeming to annoy God. But our Father who art in heaven is greater than any father who is on earth and desires that we should have all good things that makes us effective ambassadors for His Son.
In the parallel passage where our gospels teach us to keep asking, seeking and knocking, the preceding verses to this teaching in Luke, Jesus asks:
“Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.” (Luke 11:5-8)
Some of the worse acts by Christians is in the form of judging others. We do so only because we do not know any better. While there are obviously some “Christians” who are down right mean and delight in sledgehammering sinners, most of our hearts’ desire is to see the lost come to Christ. Jesus is trying to help us and we do well to heed His advice and not give what is holy to dogs or cast our pearls among the pigs. However we are to ask, seek and knock on our Father’s door for advice on how best to proceed to minister to the needs of people He puts in our path.
Does this make sense? Just put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Perhaps you are truly seeking the truth and you have little or no knowledge of the Bible and you know a Christian. He or she overwhelms you with a pat answer and when you do not get it they berate you or just try to overcome you with more of their “Biblical wisdom.” You walk away disgusted at the person and believing that the Bible and its Gospel is not for you. And you think to yourself I would never treat anyone is such a manner.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers