Matthew 7: Kingdom Is As Kingdom Does

There is just too much “doing” in this chapter for this sermon to be nothing more than pie-in-the-sky idealism.

  • The word “do” (or “don’t,” “does,” “doesn’t,” “didn’t”) occurs 15 times in this one chapter.
  • Jesus encourages his audience to “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” (7:7), all very active verbs.
  • Jesus summarizes all that the Law and Prophets were teaching using the very active Golden Rule: “So whatever you want people to do to you, do just that to them” (7:12).
  • The calling card of genuine Christians is “the fruit they bear” or “produce” (7:16-19; “produce” is used 5 times in 3 verses).

Clearly, the Kingdom will come into existence by doing.  Granted, the Kingdom is not of our doing, as if it is the work of our hands.  But we are disregarding the activity in Matthew 7 if we think God will bring His Kingdom while we sit back passively waiting.

"The Wise and Foolish Builders" by Danny Halbohm

Don’t get me wrong.  I am no legalist who glories in my good works.  People who sit in my classes hopefully will tell you that is not the focus on my teaching.  People who know me the best will also tell you I don’t have enough good works to glory in!  We don’t “do” in order to get; we “do” because of what we’ve got.  But the world needs more than a Church that offers cheap grace that neither changes anything within us nor demands anything from us.  This world needs wise builders who hear and do.  The skeptical around us need to investigate the vines of our lives and find abundant fruit.  They need people who have actually found the gate that leads through the “tight squeeze” (7:14) to the narrow path and have turned around to show others the way.

This is the sort of thing Jesus meant when he said “Follow me!” (4:19)

A rhetorical question (if you wish): who in your life needs you to “do” this Sermon?

Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Matthew 7: Kingdom Is As Kingdom Does

  1. Eddy Efaw

    I want that painting by Halbolm! Powerful image.

  2. Trent Williamson

    Given some recent events and the cry for GRACE & MERCY that has resulted…….I’m struck by our somewhat shallow view of grace. On one hand we use grace to justify living like we want to live – yet on the other we expect grace to completely erase the consequences of our sin.

    I need to go back and read Bonhoffer – because I’m quite certain that the grace we demand is many times quite cheap. Costly grace demands action!

    • I wonder if a stark realization of his own frailty is what allowed Bonhoeffer to weigh appropriately the cost of discipleship and move past cheap grace. I haven’t read enough from him to know, So I wonder.

  3. Pingback: introspection, courage, and shame « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

  4. I now see the “do not judge lest you be judged” passage in a whole new light due this paraphrase:

    “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticism their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It is easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s the whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

    I always made this passage, at least the first few lines, only about judgment, which then makes one has to quibble over how you define judgment – judgment isn’t saying something is wrong, it is saying someone is going to hell. But here Peterson avoids all of that and makes it all about hypocrisy, like everything in the chapter before in the Sermon on the Mount, like Jesus’ biggest criticism (!) of the Pharisees. The point isn’t about saying things are wrong or critiquing other’s behavior, rather we are guilty of the same thing or worse. The judgment we use on others will come right back at us. Can we pass the test? And what is our attitude? Are we just trying to look good or are we really trying to help people? This way of wording this passage is especially helpful.

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