INTRODUCTION: Sermon on the Mount — Jesus way of living. Matthew 7:1-2.
I. LAWFUL CRITICISM: Judging and analyzing in a proper way.
1. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Matthew 7:15.
2. Mark them which cause division. Romans 16:17.
3. Have no fellowship with them. Ephesians 5:11.
4. Withdraw yourself from them. II Thessalonians 3:6.
II. UNLAWFUL CRITICISM: A negative attitude. Matthew 7:3-5.
1. Presumptuously criticizing.
2. Hastily criticizing.
3. Unjustly criticizing.
4. Unmerciful criticism.
5. Unwarranted criticism.
6. Criticism quenches the Spirit.
7. Unlawful criticism reveals where you are spiritually.
8. Ignorant of the result of criticism.
INTRODUCTION: The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6 and 7, could be called the Jesus Way of Living. You do not need to be taught about the world’s way of living. You do not need to be told what religion has told you; you need to find out what Jesus said, and the Word of God says.
The Word of God is not a natural book; therefore, what you will find in the Bible will not line up with the world. Do not expect the world to agree with it; do not expect them to believe it; do not expect them to accept it unless the Holy Spirit works in them first. The Bible did not come from man, it came from God.
The Bible sets down and establishes truths and principles from another dimension and another world. This is why you and I are to be peculiar people. What makes us peculiar is that we follow the truths and the principles from that other dimension, that other world, the spirit-world of God. The way it leads us will not line up with the world’s way. It will make you peculiar because you are following truths and principles from another dimension, another universe, and another Being.
There is no way you can be like the world and walk with Jesus. Light and darkness do not mix. Jesus is light and the world is darkness. You are the light of the world (if you are born again), so when you are in dark places, do not expect to be accepted; do not expect to be able to live and be like them, and yet be like Jesus. You will have to make up your mind who you want to be like: all the rest of the world, or like Jesus.
If you make up your mind to be like Jesus, get ready. Get ready to be nailed to the cross; but glory to God, after you die, then you can live in resurrection life. As long as you are still determined to kick and squirm and live the old way of life, then Jesus cannot live that resurrected life in you. There is no way that abundant, victorious life can come forth except through death; except through death to the old life, death to the old ways; then out of death comes life.
Except a seed goes into the ground and dies, life cannot come forth. Except your ways, and your concepts, and your ideas die, the new life with God cannot come forth, because there will continually be a war. Most people are so fearful of being the peculiar people that God wants them to be, there will always be a war within them. You have been born of God, and the old natural, carnal way has to go.
We will be writing concerning conquering criticism. Conquering criticism is twofold. As you begin to learn to conquer it when it comes against you, you have to learn to conquer how to keep it from coming forth from you. The Scripture says that you reap what you sow. So the way you receive criticism is by giving out criticism. Just living for Jesus will bring you enough; you do not need to get some more by giving it out. You will have enough by simply living for Jesus. Being peculiar and following the Word of God will bring you enough criticism. But if you live for Jesus and go on and “sow” criticism, then you will reap more. Just living for Jesus will bring your way all you can stand, so you must learn how not to reap additional.
Matthew, chapter 7, verses 1 and 2, “JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED. FOR WITH WHAT JUDGMENT YE JUDGE, YE SHALL BE JUDGED: AND WITH WHAT MEASURE YE METE, IT SHALL BE MEASURED TO YOU AGAIN.” So the judgment and the criticism you will get just for living the Jesus way of living will be enough.
I. LAWFUL CRITICISM. First of all, we are going to look at “lawful” criticism, or judging and analyzing in a proper way. There is a time to be a “fruit inspector.” You can tell if someone is living a good life, just as you can tell if a tree has thorns or not. Here are four scriptures concerning this “fruit inspection.”
1. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Matthew 7:15, “BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS, WHICH COME TO YOU IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING, BUT INWARDLY THEY ARE RAVENING WOLVES.”
Jesus says to beware of them, and if He tells you to beware of them, that means that they are around. Wolves have always been around and always will be. Beware of false prophets. The Bible doesn’t say that you will know them by their gifts, but that you will know them by their fruit. You will know them by their love, their joy, their peace, their longsuffering, their gentleness, kindness, patience, humility, etc.
Jesus says to beware of false prophets. If you are going to beware of them, then there is an area where you must do some judging. There is an area where you must do some evaluating. You have to beware of them by looking at their lives, and what they teach, and see if it lines up with the Word of God. If it lines up with the Word of God, then you can accept it. If what they say doesn’t line up with the Word of God, you don’t accept it.
Let me give you a little key principle in learning and growing in God. This is the mistake most people make when they hear something, from a man of God, that lines up with the Word of God. They say, “Well, God will have to show it to me before I can believe it.” If it is truth the first time you hear it, then it is truth. If it is a year later before you receive it, it is still truth; so what happened? Why couldn’t you receive it a year earlier? It was not that the truth changed, but that the channel was not able to receive it; therefore, we understand that truth never changes.
Any time you read or hear something that lines up with the Word of God, you ought to just say, “That’s it; I receive it. God said it in His Word, and it lines up with His Word: therefore, I receive it.” What we do so many times is to say that God has to make it real to us before we can believe it. He will make it real to you, maybe a year or two later. If it was truth when you heard it, yet it took you one or two years before you came to the place to receive it, that means there is something wrong with your “receiver.”
If you will come to the place where you are going to receive the Word of God as Truth (regardless of what you think, what your former opinion was, or what you have always believed; if God says it, it is TRUE), you will find out how much quicker God will make it real to you. When you begin to take Him at His Word, regardless of former training or thinking, instead of taking you two years, you will get it in thirty days. If it lines up with the Word, receive it; if it doesn’t, don’t receive it. You look into it, you check it out, you analyze it.
The wolves come in SHEEP’S CLOTHING. False prophets are not going to come to you with two horns like a devil. The devil doesn’t come to you with two horns and say, “I’m the devil.” He always comes to you in deceitful ways. The Word says that this is what the false prophets will do. In the last days many will be deceived. You will have to know how to spot deceit.
There are all kinds of things going around even today. There is so much division in the body of Christ. You may ask, “Brother Willis, which way is the right way? Is everyone right?” I don’t believe they are all right. The only way you and I can stay straight is to be diligent in the Word of God, and trust the Holy Spirit of God to guide us into all truth.
If you trust in yourself and your knowledge to stay straight, forget it. You must have a knowledge of the Word. It is going to take the Holy Spirit of God to keep us all walking the straight and narrow path. The only way you and I can stay free from error is for God to keep us free. No man can do it. It is just not in man to do it (Jeremiah 10:23). A man walking with Christ Jesus, and trusting the Holy Spirit of God, can be kept straight. If you are not walking with Jesus and by the Holy Ghost you may be deceived by the false prophets.
The Lord showed me something years ago about receiving truth, and that is to trust Him. I have done this through the years. He showed me a big table. The table was full of all kinds of spiritual food (or teachings). Some of the foods I immediately liked; some of the truth I hear I immediately know is true. Some of the food I looked at, I had tasted many times; so I knew it was true. Some of the new things, I wasn’t sure about.
What most people will do is not try anything new, but just eat the old foods they know are good. This kind of person does not learn or grow very much. When I travel around the country and come across some kind of food I have never eaten before, I try it. I am learning new foods, and I am learning new truths, because I am willing to taste them. I do not have any fear of being misled.
The Lord impressed upon me to trust Him completely. I take the truths I don’t know everything about, and put them in my mouth and begin to chew them, look them over, analyze them. Sometimes as soon as I begin to take a bite, I know. Sometimes I hear teaching and it sounds pretty good, and I take it and I start looking at it, and all of a sudden my spirit says, “That is not any good for you.” Sometimes I take it and chew on it a while, not really knowing. It is a new taste to me, and I don’t really know if I want to go with it or not.
The Lord said to me, “Son, if you will trust Me, when you eat some of the teaching that is not true, when it gets inside of you and begins to stir, I will make you spit it up.” I have spit up some teaching that was not true. When some people swallow false teaching, they try to keep it down and hold onto it. When I find out that something is not good, I spit it out, and am quick to repent!
There has to be some lawful criticism, because of the false prophets (which inwardly are ravening wolves). On the inside they are wolves ready to devour you. You will know them by their fruit. They may appear to have some fruit of the Spirit for a short season, but if they stay among you very long it will show. It will come to a point where their “fangs” will show.
I remember one time a few years ago, I had invited a man to come, and the Lord showed me a vision. I saw his face with “fangs.” This man had been here in our city before. Many people had heard him. What he said sounded good, and I had invited him to come back; but I knew there was some stirring in my spirit, but I did not know what it was. I remembered that he had brought such a good word.
As I was sitting in my office the Lord showed me his face with “fangs,” so I called him up and cancelled his coming. He is teaching “discipleship” now. Because I was trusting God to keep me clear, He showed me that man with “fangs.” I knew when the Lord showed me the “fangs,” that he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I am trusting Jesus to keep me free and clear. He is our only hope. Our confession should be (I confess it every day) John 16:13, that “The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth is guiding me into all truth daily.” I confess that as being as important to me as my health. The number one thing you need to be confessing is that the Holy Spirit of truth is guiding you into all truth, and that He will keep you free from the wolves and their deception. It is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.
The Lord told me to be careful what I put in the lambs’ mouths. If I put poison in their mouths, He would call me to account for it. I never have forgotten that. I refuse to be a false prophet: that is my confession. I will not be confused, I will not be led astray. It is like driving down a road and not paying attention; the next thing you know, you find yourself over the yellow line. What do you do? You pull back over the line.
If I get a hold of something and don’t know if it is truth or not, I just leave it alone. I get back on the right side of the road. Running off the road won’t ruin you, if you pull back on the road. Going across the yellow line will not ruin you, but it will if you stay over there too long; you will have a wreck. If you find yourself across the yellow line, pull it back. How do you pull it back? You say, “Father, forgive me in Jesus’ name. I just swallowed some junk.” That is repentance. That clears you up to get back on the road and keep traveling.
2. Mark them which cause division. Romans 16:17 says, “MARK THEM WHICH CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENSES CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH YE HAVE LEARNED; AND AVOID THEM.” You must do some judging in order to do that, must you not? What does it say? “Mark them.” Know where they are, what they are teaching. “WHICH CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENSES (they that keep on offending, and frustrating people) CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH YE HAVE LEARNED.”
What do you do when you determine they teach contrary to the Word of God? You do not give them your attention; just love them, and go on. If you do not love them, one of these days you may find yourself out there and you will need some love. If you will love them when they run over the yellow line, then sometime when you run over the yellow line someone will be loving you. Mark them that cause division, but at the same time keep your faith reaching out for them. If I would ever get into error, I want to believe that someone would be believing God to get me out. How about you?
Remember, we need to mark them, to recognize them — in lawful criticism. Why? If you get in the slop pen with the pigs, you are going to get slop on you; so you stay away from them. Now, you are to love them and exercise your faith for them, but do not mix with them and what they believe, or it will get to you and start working in you. Your faith can still reach out and touch God in their behalf. Thank God every day that they are clear and they are free from error of any kind.
3. Have no fellowship with them. Ephesians 5:11 says, “AND HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS, BUT RATHER REPROVE THEM.” Have no fellowship with works of darkness, but rather reprove them. How are you going to reprove them? By your life. How are you going to have “no fellowship” with a bunch of men telling dirty jokes on the job? How are you going to reprove it? Walk away. Do that a few times, and they will notice. When they start to tell one, don’t smile or anything, just have a straight face — get real quiet. That will reach them. Have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness. If we are going to have no fellowship, we will have to do some judging and evaluating. So there is a lawful place to judge teaching and preaching. Judge it with the unchanging Word of God.
4. Withdraw yourself from them. II Thessalonians 3:6 says, “WITHDRAW YOURSELVES FROM EVERY BROTHER THAT WALKETH DISORDERLY.” Withdraw yourself from all those who do not walk according to the Scriptures. If you withdraw yourself, how are you going to help them get out of their error? With your faith! If they are saved, they are just as saved as you are. The only difference is that God has kept you clear, and they were snared and caught up in something.
When you move out of your religious box and begin to move up the mountain, and you begin to move closer to the things of God, and to understand more of the revelations of God, you begin to grow and mature in the things of the Lord. But at the same time the devil knows there are those going up the mountain, so he has some “loco weed” scattered out. The loco weed is right among that beautiful tall grass of God’s fresh move. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. I refuse to eat “loco weed.”
Would you confess this with me? Say, “In the name of Jesus, I refuse to eat loco weed. The only thing I eat is the Word of God.” Amen; God says we can have what we say. Your mouth is one of the main things that well keep you out of error. You can have what you say.
Well, I am not eating loco weed; I am not going to be in error; I am not going to walk it, because Jesus says I can have what I say. “…WHOSOEVER SHALL SAY UNTO THE MOUNTAIN, BE THOU REMOVED, AND BE THOU CAST INTO THE SEA; AND SHALL NOT DOUBT IN HIS HEART, BUT SHALL BELIEVE THAT THOSE THINGS WHICH HE SAITH SHALL COME TO PASS; HE SHALL HAVE WHATSOEVER HE SAITH.” (Mark 11:23). I say to that mountain of error and deception and loco weed: “I will not eat of you; I will not have you, because I am trusting in Jesus.” “TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL THINE HEART; AND LEAN NOT UNTO THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING. IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE SHALL DIRECT THY PATHS.” (Proverbs 3:5,6). This is a promise of God.
These are just some things we need to deal with, and learn about. The faith message will keep the biggest part of error out. Getting grounded and rooted in the pure Word is a great factor. Growing up on the strong faith message will keep a good deal of error out.
II. UNLAWFUL CRITICISM. Here is where we get personal, looking at the unlawful side of criticism, or the negative side.
1. Presumptuously criticizing. One unlawful way of criticism is to act presumptuously. This means to be suspicious, or even pass on an unconfirmed rumor. “I saw his/her car parked near that bar the other day.” Some “You know what? I saw Jane last week and she had a black knot on her forehead; I’ll bet he hit her.” Those are suspicious and unconfirmed rumors. You ought to say nothing!
Unlawful criticism is when you give reports about somebody else because you are suspicious. “Hey, did you hear about so-and-so?” That is an unconfirmed rumor. Do not repeat it. Any time you do this, you are really a “lie-carrier.” The Bible says thou shalt not lie. If you repeat it, and it is a lie, then you are a liar. Do not say anything but “Glory be to God, Hallelujah, Praise His Holy Name!” You can’t ever be a liar that way.
2. Hastily criticizing. This is another unlawful criticism — having no clear proof or full investigation, but acting and speaking on hearsay. This is also due to a suspicious nature. Many people, from having lived in the world, are very suspicious; but with this criticism there is no clear proof or even investigation. You won’t even investigate to find out if it is true. You just repeat what you heard. That is unlawful criticism, and negative criticism.
3. Unjustly criticizing. Ignoring anything favorable about people is also unlawful. Criticizing an individual is always telling about the bad parts in a person, but never the good. I will never forget an incident that happened to me, to teach me not to be critical.
It happened a number of years ago when I was pastoring my first church. God made this so clear to me, I have never forgotten it. We were having some difficulties in the congregation. I was new to the ministry, and did not really know what to do, or how to handle it. At a meeting with the deacons I felt they had really put the knife in my back, and turned it and twisted it a few times, and then tried to pull it out. I got very upset about it. Very upset!
I was in my car the next day driving to another town, and God showed me a piece of paper. The name of the head deacon (the one who had really put it to me at the meeting) was at the top of the paper. There was a line down the middle of the page, and God told me that when I could not find more good than bad in that man, then I had a problem. I knew that man had a lot of bad, even if he was a Christian. But the Lord said there was more good in him than bad. I learned right then that I could not unjustly criticize.
When you look at people and you are revealing their problems, remember there is good there, too. What you and I need to be telling is only good, anyway. Ephesians 4:29 says, “LET NO CORRUPT COMMUNICATION PROCEED OUT OF YOUR MOUTH, BUT THAT WHICH IS GOOD TO THE USE OF EDIFYING, THAT IT MAY MINISTER GRACE UNTO THE HEARERS.” Just think, if all of God’s people would never talk unless it was good things, and things that would minister grace!
4. Unmerciful criticism. Some criticism is unmerciful and is poured out of our mouths under the pretense of being “honest.” It is simply a cover-up to “speak your mind.” “Well, I just have to be honest.” Yes, you “honestly” cut them to pieces, chopped them up, and spit them out with your hypocritical smile. “Well, I just want to be honest with you, now, and tell you the truth about him.” “I am just going to be honest; I cannot lie, so I will tell you the truth about her.” No, you just SINNED.
Unlawful criticism is unmerciful and it is under the pretense of honesty. “Well, I just couldn’t lie about it; I think you need to know the truth about this situation.” Sometimes we do, but 99% of the time it is under the cover-up of the word “honesty,” so you can go and chop somebody all to pieces and smile while you are doing it.
5. Unwarranted criticism. Have you ever seen anyone “wake up on the wrong side of the bed”? You have not even said anything to them, and they let sparks fly? That is unlawful! Husbands, this is unlawful: just because you had a rough day at the office, you do not have a right to come home and take it out on your wife and children. Mothers, it is unlawful, just because you are having a tough day, to beat the children.
Any unwarranted actions toward someone who did not deserve it, is unlawful. Men, because you have troubles at home, it is unlawful to go out on the job and jump on somebody else. It is unlawful for you to take your frustration out on someone else. This is why the devil knows that all he has to do is bring most Christians a problem, and the next day they take it out on everyone around. They cannot live continuously in victory, because problems and circumstances control them.
6. Criticism quenches the Spirit. Criticism will quench the Spirit for your personal life and it will quench the Spirit for your fellowship life between you and the Lord. A person who has a critical mouth has poison in his mouth. This is why the Bible says in Proverbs 6:2, “THOU ART SNARED WITH THE WORDS OF THY MOUTH, THOU ART TAKEN WITH THE WORDS OF THY MOUTH.”
Proverbs 18:21, “DEATH AND LIFE ARE IN THE POWER OF THE TONGUE: AND THEY THAT LOVE IT SHALL EAT THE FRUIT THEREOF.” Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Have you ever been around someone who was always talking about how bad off they are? What is the next thing you feel? They are poisoning you. If someone comes around you and starts talking about somebody, the next thing you know you begin to go along, and join in. Ever had that happen? POISON. This is unlawful criticism.
7. Unlawful criticism reveals where you are spiritually. It gives away your level of maturity, or lack of maturity. All you have to do is listen to people and you can find out how mature they are. If they have a critical mouth, always talking about people, gossiping, passing on rumors, you can look at them and pray for them, because spiritually they are way down on the ladder.
Until people can control their tongues, they will never be very mature in Jesus. They can operate in the gifts, and cast out demons, and walk in victory, but if they cannot control their tongues they are still babes in the Lord Jesus. Therefore, it is unlawful to criticize because you tell on yourself.
I want to make sure this is getting through to you. This will show you, and everyone else, just exactly where you are with the Lord Jesus Christ. Embarrassing? It ought to be embarrassing, to be saved two to six years and still going around showing your spiritual immaturity by the poison coming from your lips! It ought to embarrass you to “hang out your dirty laundry.” When you criticize, you are hanging out your dirty laundry. When you hear some brother or sister criticize, you love them and pray for them. Begin to realize that criticism is POISON.
8. Ignorant of the result of criticism. Those who criticize are obviously ignorant of the result of their criticizing. Matthew 7:2 states, “FOR WITH WHAT JUDGMENT YE JUDGE, YE SHALL BE JUDGED: AND WITH WHAT MEASURE YE METE, IT SHALL BE MEASURED TO YOU AGAIN.” It is measured to whom? YOU! One reason many people reap a great deal of criticism is because they have sown themselves a crop. You only reap what you sow, in any area. It is not only finances.
If you are sowing mean dirty looks, you will reap mean dirty looks. If you go around saying nobody loves you, nobody will love you. “I do not understand it; I love Jesus, but nobody responds to me.” Who responds to an iceberg? Start sowing smiles, and laughter, and joy, and peace. Give, and you will receive. If you want some love, give some love. You take the initiative. If you do not give any, you will not get any.
“Oh, I sure wish the Lord would get me free in praising God.” Do you know how to get free in praise and worship to God? Give out some “GLORY!!! HALLELUJAH!!!” You sow it, and then you reap the freedom. “I want God to make me free, and then I will shout and dance and be joyful.” You will never get it that way. Remember, you always reap what you sow, in every area of your life.
If you are not free in the area of worship, it is because of what you are sowing. “Well, I am waiting for God to do something.” You are going to have a long wait. That is like waiting for God to bless you financially, when you are not sowing seed. “I don’t feel like shouting and praising God.” The Bible does not say to worship with the tambourine and dance just because you feel like it; just when you want to; just when you feel that power of God moving inside of you. He just says DO IT. Then you will receive the blessings. It is a Biblical principle.
Do you know when God gave me the joy of the Lord? He gave me the joy of the Lord when I started confessing it…BOLDLY! Keep your mind stayed on Jesus, and you will automatically want to worship Him in every way you can find that pleases Him. Do you want God to bring you to freedom? Start sowing some liberty. Do you want God to give you some dancing feet? Start sowing some dancing feet. Do you want God to give you a shouting voice? Start sowing some shouts. You will reap what you sow.
When I began at this, I started sowing freedom to get freedom. I started sowing shouts to get shouts; I sowed the dance to get the dance; I sowed the laugh to get the laughs. You always reap what you sow.
Do not be ignorant of the results of your actions, especially the results of criticizing. It works in all areas. Whatever you sow is what you reap. If you do not sow anything, you do not get anything. When I first started trying to raise my hands, oh, it was hard. The first time God told me to praise Him, I didn’t. Finally, one night I was walking back and forth in the Baptist church, and the Lord told me to praise Him or He would shut me up. Do you know what I did? “GLORY! HALLELUJAH! PRAISE GOD!!!” I have been free in praising the Lord ever since that night.
III. ACKNOWLEDGE THE REAL PROBLEM. What we are dealing with in this book is not only conquering people’s criticism of you, but also your criticism of others. We have gone over facts of lawful criticism, which is a judging, or analyzing of things; and there is an unlawful, negative critical attitude.
With this in mind, let us look at Matthew, chapter 7, verses 3-5: “AND WHY BEHOLDEST THOU THE MOTE THAT IS IN THY BROTHER’S EYE, BUT CONSIDEREST NOT THE BEAM THAT IS IN THINE OWN EYE: OR HOW WILT THOU SAY TO THY BROTHER, LET ME PULL OUT THE MOTE OUT OF THINE EYE; AND BEHOLD, A BEAM IS IN THINE OWN EYE? THOU HYPOCRITE, FIRST CAST OUT THE BEAM OUT OF THINE OWN EYE; AND THEN SHALT THOU SEE CLEARLY TO CAST OUT THE MOTE OUT OF THY BROTHER’S EYE.”
1. The basis of seeing faults in others. This Scripture points out the real problem of criticism. It makes the problem plain and simple. It explains the real problem of criticizing people, or not knowing how to accept criticism. When you get this straight in your heart, then people can criticize you, and you are dead, it won’t bother you. They will get mad at you because you do not get mad like they do, and they will get angry with you because you do not feel the way they feel. They will be in bondage because their mouths are tearing you up, and you are smiling, saying, “Glory to God.”
They will say you are putting them under condemnation. The Bible says that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and walk according to the Spirit. Anytime you do not walk according to the Spirit, you will be under condemnation if the other person is walking according to the Lord. If you are not responding to the Spirit, and someone else is walking by the Spirit, you are going to feel condemned, and be angry and mad at them. If you walk according to the flesh there is condemnation. It will separate you.
The problem is expressed in Matthew 7:3-5. I want to define the words “mote” and “beam.” Mote and beam are the same material. The splinter and the two-by-four are the same material, right? They are the same wood; one is little, while the other is larger. A splinter, and a log — they both are painful if in your eye. A splinter or a stick is painful. They will annoy, disturb, and cause frustration and confusion.
You need to realize that a mote and a beam are the same material; and they are painful, they annoy, disturb, and bother you. However, you need to be able to get the stick out of your own eye before you can get the splinter out of someone else’s eye. Acknowledging the real problem — self.
The basis of seeing faults in others lies in Matthew 7:3-5. Let’s say, for example, there is a brother or sister who has a problem with his/her temper. They have it, but it says, “WHY BEHOLDEST….” Why do you stare and gaze at the anger in your brother? It does not say it is not there. But He says, what is in you that is able to recognize it? Have you ever heard someone say that they “would like to buy him for what he is worth and sell him for what he thinks he is worth”? What is in you that can recognize that? Guess??? You have a part of the same stick in you. In other words, what is it in you that has you staring at anger, and jealousy, and bitterness, and resentment, and criticism? What kind of garbage are you?
I remember years ago when I worked for an oil field equipment company in Houston, Texas. The boss sent me to get a skyhook one day. I did not know what a skyhook was, so I could not find it. If he sent me to get a crescent wrench, I could have found it. If he had sent me to get a hammer, I could have found it. I could always get whatever he sent me to get, if I knew what it was. So Jesus is saying, the reason you see jealousy in someone else is because you recognize what it is.
When you and I are recognizing each others’ faults, and criticizing our brothers and sisters, we are seeing the splinter in their eye because we have a two-by-four in ours. The two-by-four keeps us looking at the splinter. I believe you are understanding what I am saying. It is important that you understand this. The real problem is wrapped up in this: if I am continually seeing your faults, then there is a problem with me.
Any time you catch yourself staring at another person’s faults, and you develop a feeling toward them, you had better take your accusing finger and point it back toward yourself, and ask God what it is that is wrong with you. Even though the finger wants to still point the other way toward the other person, keep it on self and get straight with Jesus, and get rid of that which is not pleasing to Him.
2. Blindness to the glaring faults of self. The reason we criticize is because we are blind to the glaring faults in ourselves. This is the real problem with criticizing. I love my sons and my daughters, and they have a lot of faults that you may see, but I don’t see them. There are a lot of faults in my life that you may see, and yet my wife does not. Why? Because she loves me. I am sure my wife has more faults than I recognize. You may see them, but I do not because I love her.
What God is saying to you and to me is to listen and understand that He wants us to be loving Him, and each other, so much that our love will begin to cover the multitude of the shortcomings in our brothers and sisters. Our eyes will be kept on Jesus, instead of their imperfections.
We are being perfected; it is His will for us to come to perfection. But unless we recognize these principles and truths we will never walk in the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God. Criticism and its results will keep us from the good things of God.
Blindness to the glaring faults of ourselves is another real problem of criticism. The third verse of Matthew, chapter seven, says, Consider not the mote, splinter, that is in your brother’s eye. He does not say that what you are finding in the other person’s eye is not there; but what he is saying is that if you have a tendency to look at garbage and junk, then you don’t have a splinter, you have a pole.
He is saying, “Yes, the splinter is in their eye; but because you continue looking at that, it shows you that they have a splinter, yet you have a log!” You are in worse shape than they are, because you are continually looking at their splinter. The beam makes you look at the splinter! It is so magnified in your life that you can spot a little splinter in them. It is so dominating in your life, that the least little splinter in them — you notice.
A person who is so spic-and-span about cleaning can walk in your house and see a little dust underneath the bed. Why? It is so controlling them, and they are so clean-conscious that they have a sharp eye for cleanliness. A person who is jealous has a sharp eye for it. A person who is easily hurt, resentful, bitter, envious, has a sharp eye for it. They are quick to spot it in others. They can recognize it, explain it, and pick it up very fast, because it is in their life in great measure.
When you get into the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, you have to be moving in love. Do you understand why? It is because it is right down where we live, and that often hurts. The ugliness of our self-will, pride, and old ways and habits of life, come out from under the woodwork. When this happens, we can get rid of it, repent, and go on with Jesus and refill that place with the Word of God. If you will face the Word of God, it will continually be bringing things out of you that nobody could make you believe were in you — only the Word of God can show you. That is the liberating, purifying work of the Word. It is the Word setting you free, so you can move with God, and be what God wants you to be.
3. Attacking others is a form of spiritual inferiority complex. Another real problem we need to acknowledge is that attacking others is a form of spiritual inferiority complex. An example of this is when one blinds his own eyes by looking elsewhere. If you are loaded down with jealousy, you will be jealous. If you have a problem over bitterness, or resentfulness, or hate or disappointment, you will be blind to it, and you will attack others with the same fault. It puts a smoke screen up on our own faults, but points to others with an accusing, criticizing finger.
I know you understand what I am saying, because we are ALL guilty, until we learn these things. Even after we have learned this, we may still catch ourselves being guilty; but that is when we REPENT. I John 2:1 says, “…AND IF ANY MAN SIN, WE HAVE AN ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS.” Be quick to repent and go on. The devil will try to bring these things back on you, and I am not trying to make a “bad confession,” but the minute he does you can catch him. You will come more and more to the place you can catch it quicker, repent and go on. Let Jesus wipe those faults away, get back on your feet and go on.
Remember, do not blind your own eyes by looking at others. God wants to clean up YOUR life. It is you that He is dealing with at the moment. Let the Word, and the Spirit of God, do their work in YOU; then you will be set free to encourage and be an example to others who have not seen it.
We do not like to take the Word of God and look at self. We like to take the Word of God and apply it to everybody else, except self. “God gave me a revelation of a Scripture last night, and I know that it will be good for John.” Then why didn’t He give it to John? “God gave me a revelation and I just know that it is for Mary.” If the Lord gave it to you, then 99% of the time it will be for you.
Attacking others also makes you feel bigger, stronger and more mature. Looking at all the problems in others, you begin to feel you are not really so bad after all. You will have to learn these things in order to grow and mature in Jesus. If you do not face these things, they will always hinder you from moving under the anointing of the Spirit of God. You can get these principles, and all of this information in your head, but the Holy Spirit has to work in you to get it in your heart.
The only way you can truly be strong in the Lord is through the Word of God. I do not care how intelligent you are, or how strong you think you are; in the eyes of the Lord, until you are born again and become His child, you do not have anything. Only through death (to self) can the resurrection power of Jesus come forth.
IV. JESUS’ POSITIVE METHOD OF VICTORY. Now we are going to look at Jesus’ positive method of victory.
1. Recognize you are in the situation. The first thing you must do is recognize it, if you are in this situation. Matthew 7:5 calls a person criticizing, a “HYPOCRITE.” Is the Bible a liar? Of course not. It says: “THOU HYPOCRITE.” In that area you are a hypocrite, because you have a beam, and they have a splinter, and your beam is feeding on their splinter.