Cautions for Kingdom Citizens

Title: Cautions for Kingdom Citizens

Bible Book: Matthew 7 : 1-10

Author: Philip Cooper

Subject: Christian Living; Judgment



I heard about a testimony given in a Wednesday evening service. A single parent with a teenage son living at home stood and said, “The other day I was preparing a pie at home and the phone rang. It was a nurse from school who said, ‘Your son has a fever. Would you please come pick him up and take him home?’”

The mother explained that she put the pie in the oven because the school was just a few minutes away. When she arrived at the school, the nurse said the son’s fever was high and that she should take him immediately to the doctor. So the mother drove to the clinic and waited until the doctor could see her son. The doctor told her to put the boy to bed and gave her a prescription to have filled.

She took her son home and drove to the mall drugstore. When she came out with the medicine, she realized she had locked her keys in the car. Frantic, she called her son and told him what she had done. Barely able to speak, he said, “Mother, get a wire coat hanger” and he hung up. Eventually, she found one in the mall. Going out to the car, she realized she didn’t know what to do with it. She began to cry and pray, “Dear Lord, my boy is home sick with a fever and I have some medicine I need to give him. A pie is in the oven and I’m afraid it’s going to burn up. Lord, I have locked my keys in the car. I’ve got this wire coat hanger but I don’t know what to do with it. Would you please send someone to help?”

At that moment, an old battered car parked right in front of her. A tough looking guy got out, and she put that coat hanger in front of his face and said, “Young man, do you know how to get into a locked car with a coat hanger?”

They walked to the car and in no time he had the door unlocked. The woman hugged him and said, “You’re a good boy. You must be a Christian.” He looked at her and said, “No ma’am. I’m not a Christian and I’m not a good boy. I just got out of prison yesterday.” The woman squealed and hugged him again. She said, “Bless the Lord! He sent me a professional!”

We have to be careful when we make judgments about others. Sometimes they are better than we thought. Sometimes they are worse.



Jesus seems to make a contradictory statement in this chapter. He begins the chapter by saying, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Then in verse 16, when talking about false prophets, Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits.” In other words, Jesus says, “Judge them by their fruits.” This seems to be a contradiction. But Jesus is not telling the Christian, “Don’t ever make a judgment about something or someone.”

John 7:24 - “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

Jesus is telling us not to have a hyper-critical, hypocritical, self-righteous spirit that delights in finding fault with other people.

There are two reasons we cannot make adequate judgments about people. First, we rarely have all the facts necessary to make a judgment. Second, our judgment could be wrong.

Many years ago an Episcopalian bishop was sailing to Europe on an ocean liner. When he got on board, he was told he would have to share his room with another passenger. He checked out the room, then went up to the information desk and asked if he could put his gold watch and wallet in the ship's safe. The Bishop explained that he didn't do this ordinarily, but he had been to his cabin and didn't like the looks of his roommate. The clerk took the valuables and said, "No problem, I'll be glad to take care of them for you. Your roommate has already been here and left his stuff for the same reason."

There is one area in which we can never make a sound judgment. In the area of one’s motives. We can judge attitudes and actions, but we can’t judge a person’s motives. Only God can do that with certainty.

However, since we are to be spiritually discerning, Jesus gave us two pictures to help in judging ourselves and others.

A. Two Roads (7:13-14)

John Calvin influenced the Christian faith more, I’m convinced, in a greater way than he ever might have imagined. As a young man he was thoughtful, reverent and studious. By age 27 he had written the first edition of his great work Institutes of the Christian Religion. By the time he died in 1564 he had laid down some of the planks for Reformed theology and the Presbyterian church. John Calvin died almost penniless, but measured by the years of history, his life has been determined to be a smashing success.

John Calvin had a brother named Charles. Everything that John was for God, Charles was not. He was shamelessly immoral and died a miserable wretch of a man. What made these two men different? It was not genetics. They came from the same gene pool. It wasn’t environment. They grew up in the same home. It wasn’t education. They went to the same schools. They had almost the same influences. What made them different was their choices. One made a decision as a young man to go in the narrow gate that leads to eternal life and the other chose to follow the crowd into the wide gate that leads to destruction.

This section was a part of the final remarks of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. As He came to the conclusion of His sermon, Jesus wasn’t concerned about getting a large number of people to walk the aisle. He was concerned that those who were in the aisle knew what they were in for. As we think about these he words, several points should be made.

1. God’s Way is Confining, Not Easy

It’s easy to be saved. But it’s hard to live for God in this world. Prayer is hard. Witnessing is hard. Living a righteous life that puts you at odds with everybody and everything in this world is hard.

I’m afraid too often we soft sell the Christian life in an attempt to win people to Christ because we don’t want them to go to Hell. We tell them that it is easy to be saved, and it is. But we may give the impression that once we are saved everything in life will be easy as well. And that is not necessarily the case.

Notice that I didn’t say God’s way is impossible. It is possible for a Christian to live a victorious life in this world through the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. God’s Way Cannot Be Found By Listening to the Majority

Most of the people around us are going through the wide gate and down the broad way that leads to the destruction of Hell.

3. God’s Way Requires Courage

We cannot walk the narrow path that leads to life as long as we are concerned about what the majority thinks of us. In the Old Testament the leader Joshua called the people of Israel to make a choice: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).

Athanasius was a fourth century theologian who for awhile stood almost alone in his defense of the deity of Christ. For a time he was at the center of a storm of controversy, isolated from his friends and colleagues. They advised him, “Give up, Athanasius. The whole world is against you.” His reply was simple. “Then is Athanasius against the whole world.”

4. The Two Ways Both End at a Destination

A great many people are having so much fun in the broad path that they ignore the destination. And sometimes people on the narrow path forget what’s at the end of the road for them. Each path leads to a destination. For one it’s the pit of hell and for the other it’s a pot of gold. Be assured: the narrow way leads to life and the broad path leads to destruction.

B. Two Trees (7:15-20)

Years ago the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Amsterdam put some of their priceless originals next to copies and held a contest to see how many visitors could tell the false from the true. Of the 1827 people who took part in the experiment only seven were able to tell the genuine from the fake.

What is true of paintings is also true of prophets, preachers, and even Christians. People in our culture today believe in their senses. If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, they believe it’s a duck. But that is not always true. People who look honest and claim to be honest are not always honest, are they?

But there is a way that a person can test the truthfulness of a preacher, prophet, or Christian testimony. It is the fruit test. Suppose the duck we just discussed lays eggs, and out of one of those eggs pops a snake? We’d know the duck was lying, wouldn’t we?

Jesus explained this test in verses 16-18. He said we could test the truthfulness of prophets by their fruit. A grapevine produces grapes, not thorns. A fig tree produces figs, not thistles. If our fig trees produce something other than figs, it’s not a fig tree.

Let’s make the application. Think of a well known televangelist that you admire. Perhaps you even send money to him occasionally. Has he ever run afoul of the tax laws? Has he been accused of improper conduct involving women not his wife? Does he say things on television that reflect well on Jesus whom he claims to serve? All of these are characteristics of the fruit that comes from the tree.


Jesus has been talking about two ways and two trees. He closed His message by picturing two builders and their houses. The two ways illustrate the start of the life of faith; the two trees illustrate the growth and results of the life of faith here and now; and the two houses illustrate the end of this life of faith, when God shall call everything to judgment.

A. With Perfect Knowledge (7:21-23)

Nahum 1:7 - “The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”

2 Timothy 2:19 (NKJV) - “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

B. For Potential Reward (7:24-27)

When we stand before the Lord, if we’ve kept His commandments and obeyed His Word, we will be like the man who built a house on a stone foundation. If not we will have built on the shifting sands.

1 Corinthians 3:8 (NKJV) - “Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”


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