By Dorette Saunders
As we journey through the Lenten season, it is imperative that we carefully examine ourselves, how we interact with others, and even stop to question if the doctrines we follow align with the Word of God. In the 7th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus teaches on several topics that catch his listeners off guard (Read Matthew 7). Perhaps, we, too, may be caught off guard, but it is instructive to our Christian growth that we recognize obedience as the mark of a mature believer.
“Don't condemn others, and God won't condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them…Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about” (Matthew 7:1-2; 12, CEV).
Hearing God’s response to our behavior, we sputter, “What!? But I thought God was love…?” And, yes, God is love. The “Golden Rule” as we know it, finds its origin in the Bible. Have you noticed that Jesus has not told his hearers to retaliate when they are treated badly? In fact, the apostle Paul follows Jesus’ pattern and says:
“Don't mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others” (Romans 12:17, CEV).
And while we are taking that introspective look, Jesus cautions us about having a “holier than thou” attitude towards others. We often see their wrongs but neglect to view our own. Jesus spares no one when he says, “You're nothing but show-offs! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend's eye” (Matthew 7:5, CEV).
Many of us are guilty as charged, falsely believing that our position in church or the length of time we’ve been saved, our education, or status in society, makes us better Christians than others.
One way to overcome such faulty belief is to earnestly pray and ask God to let us abstain from being judgmental, and to begin praying for others. We must set the standard, which we learn from Jesus.
Jesus ends his discourse telling the people the importance of godly obedience. Don’t get caught up in the religious fluff, he warns. Be obedient to God’s Word.
“Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!” (Matthew 7:21-23, CEV).
Are we reaching out to God for more of his anointing? Are we treating those around us with respect? Are we being obedient to the Word of God? Do we see the Word of God as having complete authority over our lives? These are questions no one can answer for us.
PRAYER: God, we would follow you, yet our flesh still stands in the way of total obedience. Help us to obey your voice; to treat others as we would be treated; and to see the joy that lies before us—the celebration of our resurrected Lord.