October 10, 2021 – Matthew 7

Lesson Date: October 10, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 7:1-6, 13-27

AIM: To lead students to discover guidelines for proper judgment, and to encourage them to apply those guidelines to the people, choices, and situations they encounter in the coming week.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 7 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Bring an apple and a rock to class.  Write the word “Judgment” on the marker board or chalkboard.  Enlist two class members to role-play the following conversation (also found on page 24 of the Sunday School Member Quarterly).

Sam and Bill are discussing the spiritual needs of Gary, one of their class members.

Sam: “I am very concerned for Gary’s spiritual condition.  I had heard rumors that he believed in social drinking, but the other day I saw him in a restaurant, and sure enough, he was actually drinking an alcoholic beverage.”

Bill: “I don’t think we have the right to condemn Gary’s behavior; after all, the Bible says, ‘judge not, that ye be not judged.’”

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Hold up the apple and the rock in front of the class so everyone can get a good look at them.  After a moment, ask: “Which one of these objects is an apple?”  Ask: “How do you know which is the apple?” (by its color, size, shape, and smell).  Ask: “Based on what you know about apples, you looked at the two objects and made the judgment that one is an apple and the other one is not – is that correct?” (yes).

Tell the students the word judge means to separate or distinguish.  In the legal world it refers to evaluating evidence to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual, and then assigning appropriate punishment if the person is pronounced guilty.  In a more general sense, judgment is distinguishing between two or more alternatives.  Hold up the apple and the rock again and tell them they judged correctly in identifying which one is the apple.

Remind the students that we have spent the last two weeks studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Today’s lesson is from the final chapter of that famous sermon.  The title of this lesson is Proper Judgment.  As we study Matthew 7, we will discover guidelines for proper judgment.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Gospel of Matthew.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the cure for worry).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Matt. 6:33).
  2. Do We Have the Right to Judge Others?
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 7:1.
    • Tell the class this is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible.
    • Ask the two previously enlisted students to do the role-play described above.
    • Ask: “Is that what Jesus meant when He said, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’?”
    • Tell the class the answer to that question can be found in the next verse.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 7:2.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus did not forbid us from judging others (using our judgment and experience to evaluate their behavior).
      • What He said was that we must be willing to face the same standard of judgment we apply to others.
      • In other words, if you don’t want your behavior evaluated, keep quiet about the behavior of other people.
    • Summarize: Jesus did not forbid judgment, and later in this chapter He will even tell us how to judge others.
  3. Hypocritical Judgment.
    • Read Matthew 7:3-5.
    • Explain that the word mote refers to a tiny speck.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say about judgment in these verses?” (we must not focus on tiny faults in others while ignoring major faults in ourselves).
    • Ask: “Which is easier – noticing the faults of others or honestly admitting our own?” (notice the faults of others).
    • Tell the students it is hypocritical to judge a tiny speck of a fault in someone else’s moral character while ignoring a huge beam of a fault in our own.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell us to do about this?” (first get the beam out of our own eye so we can see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye).
    • Stress the fact that getting “the mote out of thy brother’s eye” is corrective and restorative: we are to help our brothers and sisters correct faults so they can live for Jesus.
    • Summarize: We must not be hypocritical in our judgment. The purpose of proper judgment is to correct, not to condemn.
  4. Discerning Judgment.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 7:6.
    • Ask: “What should we not give to dogs?” (holy things).
    • Ask: “If you give your dog a Bible, what will he do with it?” (either ignore it or destroy it; either way it is pointless).
    • Ask: “What should we not cast before swine?” (pearls).
    • Ask: “If you go out to feed the hogs, but instead of giving them food you throw out handfuls of pearls, what will happen?” (they will trample them under their feet; they may even turn and attack you).
    • Tell the class verses 7-12 deal with prayer and the Golden Rule.
    • Read Matthew 7:13-14.
    • Tell the students that on an old TV game show contestants had to choose one door or curtain over another. If they chose correctly they received a wonderful prize, but if they chose the wrong door they lost everything.
    • Ask: “What choice did Jesus put before us in verses 13-14?” (the choice of two gates).
    • Explain that one of the gates is wide and spacious, and many people are going through it.
    • Ask: “Where does that gate lead?” (to destruction: hell).
    • Tell the class the other gate is very narrow, with few people passing through it.
    • Ask: “Where does that gate lead?” (to eternal life: heaven).
    • Stress the fact that the narrow gate is Jesus Christ. There are not many ways to heaven; there is only one.
    • Summarize: We must exercise wise discerning judgment when dealing with eternally valuable things and choosing the course of our lives.
  5. Fruit Judgment.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 7:15-20.
    • Ask: “Why is it sometimes difficult to identify false prophets?” (because they disguise themselves).
    • False teachers may look like sheep, but inside they are ravenous wolves.
    • Ask: “According to verses 16 and 20, how can we identify false prophets?” (by their fruits).
    • Hold up the apple again.
    • Ask: “Do you think this apple grew on a poison ivy vine?” (no; it grew on an apple tree).
    • Explain the following:
      • You can’t get apples from any plant other than an apple tree.
      • Even if you don’t know what an apple tree’s leaves or bark look like, you can make the judgment that the tree is an apple tree if apples are growing on it.
    • Ask: “According to verse 17, what kind of fruit grows on good trees?” (good fruit).
    • Ask: “According to verse 17, what kind of fruit grows on corrupt trees?” (evil fruit).
    • Tell the students in verse 18 Jesus clearly said we will not find evil fruit on a good tree, or good fruit on a corrupt (rotten, worthless) tree.
    • Ask: “According to verse 19, what will happen to the tree that does not bring forth good fruit?” (it will be cut down and cast into the fire, symbolic of hell).
    • Jesus said the proper way to judge others is by inspecting their fruit.
    • Summarize: We should inspect the fruit of others to discern properly what is in their hearts.
  6. Self Judgment.
    • Read Matthew 7:21-23.
    • Ask: “Will everyone who says, ‘Jesus is Lord’ enter into heaven?” (no).
    • Ask: “According to verse 22, why do many people think they should go to heaven?” (the good works they have done for the Lord).
    • Ask: “What will happen to those who have done good works but have never come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord?” (they will be sent from God’s presence to spend eternity in hell).
    • Tell the students many people claim that their good works qualify them for heaven, but true salvation comes only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5).
    • Summarize: We must examine and judge ourselves to determine if we are truly saved.
  7. Wise Judgment.
    • Tell the class that Jesus taught many important things in this chapter.
    • Ask: “Do you think we should do anything about the things Jesus said?”
    • Tell them the next verses describe wise and foolish responses to Jesus’ teaching.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 7:24-27.
    • Ask: “To whom did Jesus compare those who hear His words and obey them?” (a wise man who built his house upon solid rock).
    • Ask: “What will happen to the wise man’s house when the storms come?” (it will withstand the storms and survive intact).
    • Ask: “To whom did Jesus compare those who hear His words but don’t obey them?” (a foolish man who built his house upon the sand).
    • Ask: “What will happen to the foolish man’s house when the storms come?” (it will fall and be utterly destroyed).
    • Explain the following:
      • The foundation is the most important part of any structure.
      • If the foundation fails the structure will fail, so builders know that they must start with a good foundation.
      • Tell the class when Jesus finished His sermon “the people were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (verses 28-29).
    • Summarize: We must use wise judgment to build our lives upon the proper foundation: Jesus Christ.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students that contrary to what some people think, Jesus did not forbid us from “judging” others (evaluating their spiritual condition based upon their moral behavior).  Instead of forbidding us from judging, He gave us guidelines and instructions for how to judge properly.  Ask: “What are those guidelines?”

Review the guidelines Jesus gave us:

  • First, Jesus warned against hypocritical judgment (condemning others while doing the same things ourselves). We must not be hypocritical in our judgment, because the purpose of proper judgment is to correct, not just to condemn.
  • Secondly, Jesus told us to exercise discernment in the use of valuable spiritual things and in determining the proper course for our lives. We must exercise proper discerning judgment when dealing with valuable things and when choosing the path for our lives.
  • Third, He plainly told us to inspect the fruit of others. True Christians can be identified by the good fruit they bear, just as we can recognize false teachers by their evil fruit.  Fruit inspection is proper judgment.  We should inspect the fruit of others to properly discern what is in their hearts.
  • Fourth, Jesus told us to judge and examine ourselves. Lip service will not get us into heaven, but a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ will.  We must examine and judge ourselves to determine if we are truly saved.
  • Finally, Jesus told us to exercise wise judgment in the ways we respond to the things He taught. We must use wise judgment to build our lives upon Jesus Christ, the only proper foundation.

If time permits, lead the students to discuss practical ways we can apply these guidelines to the people, choices, and situations they will encounter in the coming week.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask them to examine themselves.  Ask any who do not have a genuine saving relationship with Jesus Christ to confess their sin and place their faith in Jesus Christ right now.  Ask everyone to make a personal commitment to God to wisely apply Jesus’ teachings about judgment this week.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Matthew 7:21.  Urge them to seek God’s help to exercise proper judgment this week.

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