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1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Probably no command is more often broken than this. Much of our conversation is judgement, criticism or condemnation of others.
This is an evil condition, and displeasing to God. We must truly judge circumstances and conditions where our own conduct is affected, or where fellowship is involved; but unless it is necessary for us to judge others in order to know what we ourselves should do, we should very carefully refrain from forming any judgment of another, and especially we should not express judgment.
This is a very important first principle of the Truth. The warning is ...*
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Therefore, it is always wisdom to judge with mercy and kindness and compassion and fellow-feeling, wherever we must judge at all.
When we indulge in the flesh-satisfying practice of judging and criticising others, we are not only directly disobedient to this command - we are also manifesting that we do not have the mind and spirit of Christ, and therefore are none of his.
6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
This seems to be a counterbalance to the command not to judge. It parallels another command elsewhere -
"Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
We are not being harmless, but very harmful and fleshly, when we talk about the faults of others.
But though we must view all with love and compassion and sympathy, still we must use care in exposing the things of God to the unholy and profane.
I believe the reference is more to the inner aspects of the Truth, the intimate aspects of association and fellowship, rather than to preaching the Truth. Paul's injunction to "Lay hands suddenly on no man" would be parallel.
This is a fitting and balancing warning in conjunction with the command to judge with compassion, lest out of misguided love we make the mistake of being too lenient in guarding the purity of the Truth. The Truth and the fellowship of the Spirit are holy and sacred and must be jealously guarded from the worldly and profane. *
7 ASK, and it SHALL be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
This is certainly the most glorious of the commands. Let us note well that it is a COMMAND. We must believe it, and we must ask.
We can never hide behind a plea of weakness or inability to obey, for here we are commanded to ask for whatever strength and wisdom we need, and God guarantees it. (Mark 11:24):
"What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, BELIEVE that ye receive them, and ye SHALL have them."
With that guarantee of success, there can be no excuse for failure. *
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
The "Golden Rule" - best known and perhaps least obeyed command of all. It has a pleasing, soothing sound, and many pay it zealous lip-service, but how it rarely is practiced!
Note that Jesus says this command is "all the Law and the Prophets" - this is the whole spirit of the Old Testament, as well as the New. *
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Here is a place where we must judge-not in condemnation, but in self-protective discernment-care concerning being mislead into association with such as have all the appearances of zealous, harmless, hard-working sheep.
How are we to judge? "By their fruits."
Now, many apparent "fruits" we may find the sheep and wolves have in common-
"Have we not prophesied in thy Name?"
"And in thy Name done many wonderful works?"
We must search deeper to discern the wolves. We would perhaps prefer not to face this issue, but to leave all judging to Christ. But here is the last and crowning command- "Beware of false prophets."
It must be very urgent to be put as the closing warning. It would not be faithful to ignore it. It must be a real danger.
We must endeavour, whatever the present cost in friendship and association, to faithfully keep that which has been entrusted to us, and which previous generations of faithful brethren have preserved and defended. Where false teaching is tolerated, there can be no true fellowship, though many may themselves not follow the falsehood *
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Success is simply a matter of pleasing God: happiness is simply a matter of God manifesting His pleasure in our hearts. All else is illusion and delusion: all else is vanity, and -- finally -- sorrow and death.
Life can be ALL deep, quiet, trustful pleasure, even in its pain.
Life can be all empty tragedy and failure, even with its glitter and "success." Don't build anything on anything but solid rock. If there is no eternal foundation beneath it, then the better we build and the harder we labour, the greater the ultimate loss and remorse.
God is the Rock: the only Rock. Build everything you do on Him.
It will then stand firm to all eternity *
* Bro Growcott - Be Ye therefore Perfect