Context refers to the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. However, if you enter a conversation which has already started, you might come away with a different perspective than those who were present at the very beginning. Unless you take time to confirm your inclinations, you may be missing crucial details. When information is passed off to second and third hand parties, context tends to get lost. Subsequently, sloppy communication opens the door for alterations, exaggeration and gossip.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” Matthew 7:1.
As a former Bible teacher, the verse above is one of the most misinterpreted passages in the Bible. The media loves to quote this when their worldview is questioned. The perception is that no one should be able to judge another person. Yet, if you read ahead, you’ll find the point Jesus is trying to make. Jesus is referring to hypocrites who judge others while doing the same exact thing. As individuals remove the plank, the sin from their lives, they earn the right to correct others. However, until this area is under control, no one is credible.
“God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you,” 1 Corinthians 5:13.
The Bible refers to two standards for life, those inside the church and those outside. God expects more from those who decide to follow Jesus. Whenever I hear or see debates on television over Matthew 7:1, no one brings up the words of the apostle Paul. As I introduced the principle above to my classes, the concept of expelling sinners brought outrage from some students. The situation within the church of Corinth is at the final stage of the Matthew principle based upon Matthew 18:15-17. Before you reach this point, the Bible encourages individuals to confront people face to face and with a few close friends if necessary. If no progress is made and sin is full blown, this is where the church steps in as a last warning so to speak. Like an alcoholic in denial, sometimes you have to walk away until prodigals see the error of their way.
If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector, Matthew 18:17.
Like a concerned parent, I can’t force my readers to believe what I do. Rather, I try to point out the convictions on my heart. In the end, you will live according to a certain set of standards. These will likely be altered, chanced or modified along the way. Nonetheless, may you carefully develop what you believe so that when attacked by outsiders, you will be able to defend what you know to be true.
by Jay Mankus