Daily email Number 362 – from the Vicar

It is Monday 2nd August and I am back.

I Had a very uplifting time in Keswick, and then have just “popped” down to the Isle of Wight for the weekend to attend the wedding of one of our nephews on Sue’s side of the family.  So we hope that the refreshment of a break hasn’t been undone by several hundred miles of driving in the last few days!
I am returning to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for a few more days as we seek to come to the end of this amazing piece of spiritual teaching. So our passage today is Matthew Chapter 7 verses 1 to 6.
Here is a warning against judging others (v.1) lest too we will be judged.  However, we must be careful at taking this verse on its own and ignoring other verses nearby. I think the thrust of Jesus’ teaching is about being very careful about judging others, rather than not judging at all, which I will try to explain.
Jesus’ illustration of the speck and the plank (vs.3-5) is sort of comical, but makes the point that as human beings we are very good at seeing other people’s faults and forgetting about our own, or maximising other’s faults and minimising our own.  But Jesus makes the opposite point that other people’s faults are like tiny specks, and ours are like dirty great big planks!!It is a really helpful piece of teaching/perspective that we need to take on board before we quickly jump in with our judgement – make sure you are conscious of your own faults and failings first. However, do note that Jesus doesn’t forbid us removing the specks in our brother’s eye altogether, He just tells us to be very careful.

Verse 6 about dogs and pigs at first glance seems very strange to me, both because of the strong language and also how does it fit into this context? I think the broad meaning is that we shouldn’t waste our time on preaching the Gospel/sharing the truths of God to those who really don’t want to hear them, and have made this clear after repeated and perhaps aggressive rejections.  We have seen something of this recently in the story of Acts, in Paul’s missionary journeys. So Jesus is giving us permission to make a judgement on who are “dogs” and “pigs”, but we have to be very careful in making that judgement. John Stott in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount very helpfully describes this teaching for exceptional circumstances only, and could only think of 1 or 2 situations in his long preaching and pastoral ministry when he felt he had to stop sharing the gospel with people and walk away from them, because they just weren’t interested, and it had become more than waste of time.
Anyway, as usual much to ponder and to ask the Lord’s help to put into practice.
In our prayers we return to the top of the church address list and pray for,- Colin & Penny- Martin & Lucie.

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