Recently I was reading Matthew 7, and I noted eight topic changes in 29 verses. Listed these were,
- instruction regarding improper judgment
- a warning about not giving what is holy to "dogs" or "swine"
- those who ask, receive; those who seek, find; unto those who knock, it is opened
- the golden rule
- the narrow way
- know the good and bad tree by its fruit
- the house built on the rock contrasted with the house built on sand
- Jesus is identified as one who teaches with authority by those listening
These are often considered as separate messages taught as each standing alone rather than taught in sequence as one related speech. (I know that the divisions of chapter and verse were added later, so separating these thoughts was not the intent of the Matthew as the writer, and I am separating these 29 Scriptures from the context of what precedes and follows.) For my purpose here, think about the bearing of context and infer within the reading by thinking of chapter 7 as one related essay. Then...
1. Verses 1-5, which exhort us to remove the log from our own eye before we attempt to remove the speck from our brother's eye or else we enter into the realm of being a hypocrite have a related meaning to not casting what is holy among us before dogs and swine.
2. In context then, metaphorically calling another human a "dog" or a "swine" is not judging brethren as Jesus is clearly teaching against such judgment. Rather, it is something else. I think the metaphor is intended to help us understand the total lack of understanding the lost have for spiritual matters. Little can be discussed with these folks except the need for salvation, as we are all sinners. Attempting to discuss issues of judgment as a violation of brotherhood or as something requiring humility with someone who is lost and hasn't bent the knee to God's judgment is a fruitless exercise which will only result in an attack from lost ones. Verses 1-5 are among many concepts too holy for the lost to comprehend.
3. Yet for all those who belong to Him, the deep things of the spirit which cannot be shared with the lost are available if we ask, seek and knock. All understanding can be opened to us, if such is the hunger of our hearts. We can be confident that the Father will deal faithfully with our requests to know and understand His ways.
4. Even as we can expect God to deal with us faithfully, that is the simple expectation He places on us: Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Be faithful. (No doubt, referencing other standards Jesus has related but which are part of the previous two chapters.)
5. This truth of living is the core of the narrow way which is of the Father, faithfully acting within the confines of love toward others.
6. Since this is an evident condition of heart, we can easily spot those who are "bad" trees and those who are "good" trees by the fruit they produce. The fruit of God always lines up with the golden rule.
7. Just before He finishes this teaching, He assures and warns His listeners of the consequences of living within the teaching--following this teaching stabilizes one's life against life's storms--and the reverse is consequentially the reverse, as well. (This is a summation applying to the whole Sermon on the Mount, not just Matthew 7.)
8. Those hearing the Sermon on the Mount were startled by the authority which His words revealed.
Summing up using inference, Matthew chapter 7 is about life lived according to the ways of the Father: avoiding judging brethren improperly; avoiding needless attempts to teach the lost the holy things of the Father; seeking to understand these deep issues ourselves and receiving the knowledge/understanding needed to do so; such are examples/details of the gospel lived out by following the golden rule; we accept this standard as the narrow way of God; and are able to identify the good and bad fruit of those who claim God by the standard of the golden rule; such a living of the narrow way sustains ones' life through the challenges of life.
Do you think inferring is an acceptable way to digest Scripture? Do you think the inferences I have drawn are reasonable? Do you prefer to just take each topic as an insight on its own?