Verses 6-12 clearly continue with the Lord’s topic of judging. In verses 1-5 He warned against judging the sin of others when you yourself have not addressed your own sins issues. In 6-12 He continues, revealing to His listeners and us today, how His follower might find the wisdom to constructively address sin in the lives of others. He answers three questions regarding this wisdom:
1. Why might I need divine wisdom if I am to get involved in ministering to others’ needs—particularly as I seek to offer spiritual truth to them?
2. Where might I find the kind of wisdom that I need if I am to join in this ministry of Jesus of spreading and sharing His truth to people around me?
3. How am I to apply the wisdom that I receive from God?
I. The need for wisdom in ministry. 6
Question: Why might I need divine wisdom if I am to get involved in ministering to others’ needs—particularly as I seek to offer spiritual truth to them? Answer: Because it is not only fruitless, but can be dangerous to insist on sharing the Word and Wisdom of God with people who don’t want to hear it.
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Gold, pearls = costly, valuable = (in context), the words shared as you “take the speck” out of your brother’s eye.
There has been much speculation regarding the identity of these “dogs and pigs” that Jesus warns us to avoid sharing our wisdom with: Jews in Jesus’ time (and Jews and Muslims today) considered dogs and pigs to be unclean and detestable. Church fathers, and the Reformers generally felt the people who Jesus referred to as “dogs and pigs” were the uninitiated and unconverted, and that the pastor should take pains to bar these from participating in Communion (the Lord’s Supper). Some modern-day scholars argue that these “dogs and pigs” are those believers who have not moved forward in a life of obedient discipleship. But, it is precisely the “uninitiated”, unconverted, and uncommitted who need to hear the words of wisdom and reproof! Does it seem consistent with Scripture to withhold truth from others on the basis of their moral condition? (Besides, it is impossible for a pastor or church leader to perfectly discern who is truly redeemed and who remains unsaved in his entire church!) I believe the identity of these “dogs and pigs” that Jesus warns His followers to avoid sharing truth with is simply those who neither appreciate nor desire to hear what we have to say to them. When it becomes clear to us, either through our perception of them, or their communication to us, that they are not interested—we are to respectfully not continue engaging them with spiritual truth.
II. The promise of wisdom for ministry. 7-11
Question: Where might I find the kind of wisdom that I need if I am to join in this ministry of Jesus of spreading and sharing His truth to people around me? Answer: Your Father in heaven promises to grant you every ounce of wisdom that you need for faithful living and ministry—if you simply, sincerely ask Him for that wisdom!
A. God will always answer sincere prayer 7-8
7 “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.
1. Keep asking… 7a, 8a
When do we find ourselves asking for something? When we feel that we need something.
2. Keep seeking… 7b, 8b
When do we seek after something? When we want it, but it is not near or obvious to us.
3. Keep knocking… 7c, 8c
When do we knock? When we desire to be acknowledged by whoever is on the others side of the door, and let in. Having to “knock” at the door of heaven provides a consistent reminder that heaven has been opened to the believer—by our Lord Jesus!
B. God’s answers to our prayers are always perfectly appropriate 9-11
9 “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 “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 what is good to those who ask Him!
1. Example #1: What father would give his child a stone instead of a loaf of bread?! 9
2. Example #2: What father would give his child a snake instead of a fish? 10
3. Conclusion: If even you know how to give good gifts, how much more will God give you His very Spirit of wisdom? 11
“If you then, being evil, = morally corrupted
Cross-ref: Luke 11:13: “how much more will your Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” = The “good” that God gives is the presence of His very Spirit in our souls to give us the ability to think and reason according to His wisdom. Do we seek God for His wisdom with the same zeal and desperation as we seek Him for so many other things?
III. The application of wisdom 12
Question: How am I to apply the wisdom that I receive from God? Answer: God provides us with His wisdom so that we might live in an obedient, loving relationship with BOTH Him and with our neighbors.
A. The Golden Rule
H. Thielicke: “There can be no relationship with the Father that does not also include a relationship with our neighbor.”
The Golden Rule is distinct from other religious and moral systems, in that it calls for the positive, active commission of good deeds towards others, not simply the avoidance of negative actions and words. It’s more than simply, “Don’t do any harm to anyone else…” For instance, no law can demand that a citizen pick up a wallet found on the ground and return it to its owner—but the Golden Rule demands that the believer pick up the wallet and promptly return it (and its contents!) to its owner.
B. The Law and the Prophets
Cf: Mat 5:17ff = Here Jesus is answering the question, “How can I have a righteousness greater than the scribes and Pharisees?”
CONCLUSION: What about Grace Bible Church today?
1. Are we sensitive and appropriate in how we discuss and share the Word of God? Do we really care about how it’s received, or do we just want to cast it out there and hope for the best?
2. Do we seek God for wisdom with the same zeal that we seek Him for everything else we want in life? God is NOT our personal errand boy, cash machine, or vending machine! We usually need wisdom more than the things we think we need!
3. Is our faith defined mainly by the sinful things we avoid doing, or by the gracious, kind-hearted things that we DO for those around us?
(Preached at Grace Bible Church 9/30/2012)