The passage from Matthew 7:1-12 is notoriously difficult to understand due to its complex thematic interconnections. What seems like a random collection of Jesus’ wisdom is actually a message about how we are to treat others.
Jesus is identifying two radically different ways of treating others, which flows through two radically different hearts: a self-righteous heart like the Pharisees, and a kingdom-heart made alive by God’s grace.
What kind of heart treats others rightly?
- The Heart of Unhelpfulness: A self-righteous heart is helpless with others. Condemnation flows from a heart of self-righteousness, and self-righteousness never helps anybody. If we’re condemning, blaming, shaming, and ostracizing others, there’s something much bigger than a speck of sin in our eye; we’re blinded by the log of self-righteousness. And self-righteous people shouldn’t try to help others deal with harmful stuff in their life.
- The Heart of Helpfulness: Jesus describes another approach: to ask, seek, and knock on the doors of others. If someone is bothering you, what if you ask for their help? What if you seek them out to build a relationship? What if you knock on the door of their life? You see, souls open from the inside. You can’t force entry into another person’s soul. The only way to speak into another person’s life is if they willingly allow you in. That’s the approach that God takes with us. Scripture teaches us how to live well in relationship with others, and to treat others the way you’d like to be treated. And the only way that is possible is with the new heart of the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is offering us by grace through the Holy Spirit. A heart that has received the grace of God, is equipped to extend the grace of God. That’s why a righteousness-graced heart is so helpful with others, because a heart that receives grace knows how to extend grace.
- The Heart of Helplessness: The irony is that that most helpful heart is the one that realizes its helplessness. Only a helpless heart can help other helpless hearts.
Takeaway: Grace floods out of a heart that is flooded by grace.
You want a heart for others? Let the grace of God flood into your life and wash all the self-righteous entitlement and ego away until there’s nothing left but a poor, abject sinner beating his breast crying out to God, “Have mercy upon me, a sinner!”
And in your helplessness, you’ll discover how supremely helpful you are to the helpless hearts around you. For in your gentle, lowly, and humble heart, others will sense the presence of Christ in your story of amazing grace.
Living The Message episode: https://youtu.be/L7tLS5Tk1Gg