The Book of Matthew

Friday: Clear Channels

Matthew 7:1-5 In this week’s lessons, we learn about the hypocrisy of judging, and the need to replace sinful judgmentalism with a love for others.
Theme
Clear Channels

Sometime later, after Jesus had referred to James and John as “sons of thunder,” in the midst of Christ’s ministry as they were passing through Samaria, James and John were so incensed by the attitude of the Samaritans that they said to Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did?” (Luke 9:54). That was not very loving. Earlier in His ministry the Lord had been received in Samaria; but at this time, knowing that the time of His death was at hand, Jesus was determined to push on to Jerusalem. When the Samaritans learned this, however, all of the social prejudice that they possessed had come out and they refused to let Jesus and His followers even spend the night in their city. Thus, John along with his brother James wished to destroy them. It was a clear case of John, with a beam in his eye, jumping up to judge a mote in the eye of the Samaritans.

But John soon learned differently. Jesus had said then, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” And later, as he came to know his Lord better, he learned his need for love and became one noted for love. He then wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

Now I do not know where you stand in this matter of motes and beams. But I know that few of us are ever entirely free from this fault and, what is more, I know that the beams (if there are any) must be removed from our lives first if the love of God is to flow freely through our lives to help others.

In the summer of 1970, when I was in Europe, I visited a friend in one of the new high-rise apartment buildings in France that line the mighty Rhine River just across the water from Germany. From my friend’s apartment I looked down on an old-fashioned lock that existed at one time to direct the water from the Rhine across the flatlands of France. At one time the channel was undoubtedly useful. But as I looked down upon it I saw that large beams had been used to choke the flow of the river. It was true that the power of the river that had flowed in former times was still present. It was running on to the north through Germany. But the beams were blocking the channel, and now there was nothing coming through but a trickle. The lock itself was closed by refuse that had entered the cul-de-sac and had no outlet.

If you discover that a beam is blocking the flow of God’s love in your life, as these beams were blocking the river, then you must know that the only solution is the one to be found in Jesus. He is the Great Physician, and He is able to extract both motes and beams because there is nothing to hinder His vision. Besides, he will give you a vision of His glory, as you look to Him, that will then be reflected from your purified eye to others.

Study Questions
  1. From Luke 9, how do James and John live up to their description as “sons of thunder”?
  2. Read 1 John, and note the contrast between John when he behaved as a “son of thunder” and what you learn about his heart from his first epistle.
Application

Reflection: Is there anyone with whom you may not particularly get along, perhaps because they consistently do or say things that annoy you? How can you demonstrate the love of Christ toward them, rather than a judgmental attitude?

Key Point: Now I do not know where you stand in this matter of motes and beams. But I know that few of us are ever entirely free from this fault and, what is more, I know that the beams (if there are any) must be removed from our lives first if the love of God is to flow freely through our lives to help others.

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “Judging by Right Judgment.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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