In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, much of the focus for discussion is often on the first part of the Sermon containing the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.
In fact, the last admonition of Jesus in Chapter 6: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (vs. 6:33, HCSB), somehow seems to conclude the Sermon.
But Jesus provided many instructions for His disciples in Matthew 7 as well! The Golden Rule that we all learned as children is vs. 12.
The behaviors Jesus identified in these additional instructions in Matthew 7 were taught in the context of eternal life.
In other words, these are instructions we should live by in our present life in preparation for eternal life.
When Jesus said to treat others the way you want to be treated (the Golden Rule), He meant the criteria you apply when making judgments about other people could be the criteria God applies in determining your place in eternity.
So here’s some additional instructions from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7 that will help us live a life focused on God’s Kingdom and eternity:
- Pardon and forgiveness (Matthew 7:1-5). While these verses seem to be saying do not be judgmental or critical toward others, the real message is to be abounding in pardon and forgiveness toward others as God is toward you. If God is exceedingly merciful toward you, then you should certainly be the same toward others.
- Discretion (Matthew 7:6). While admission to God’s Kingdom is available to all human beings, it cannot be and should not be forced either directly or indirectly on anyone. While this admonition is certainly not meant as a condemnation of any class, race, educational level, or socio-economic class of any human beings, Jesus’s disciples should direct their efforts at proclaiming the Kingdom of God to those people—individually or collectively—with whom their efforts can be productive and not argumentative.
- Mutual loving relationship with God (Matthew 7:7-11). The basis for establishing a personal and intimate relationship with God is based on the interaction of giving and receiving. Jesus is saying that the Heavenly Father wants to give you all aspects of abundant and eternal life if you are willing to receive it. We know this is not hyperbole because Jesus says that even people who do not know God love their children and love to give them gifts. In Luke’s version of these verses the “good gifts” are the gift of the Holy Spirit—the Heavenly Father gives His Own Spirit to dwell in the His children.
- Respect for humanity (Matthew 7:12). Known as the Golden Rule, this verse sets the universal standard for getting along with others. You have to start with a basic respect for human beings.
- Convictions/principles (Matthew 7:13-14). Know what you believe and stand up for your beliefs because it is always easier to follow the way of evil (through the wide gate) than it is to follow God’s way (through the narrow gate).
- Discernment (Matthew 7:15-20). Following the instructions of Jesus will sharpen your senses so that you can better recognize what proceeds from good and what proceeds from evil. A good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit (or no fruit). It is the same way with people, so determine what kind of fruit a person is bearing and you will know what kind of person he or she is.
- Obedience (Matthew 7:21-27). By obeying the instructions of Jesus you will fulfill God’s will for your life. When the challenges of life confront you, you won’t fall apart because your faith is built on the absolutes of God’s will and God’s truth and reality.