Reciprocity and Judgment – Matthew 7:1-6


I want to use a word that may not be in your everyday vocabulary.    This word is “Reciprocity.”  The definition of Reciprocity is “an exchange or relationship between two or more people.”  The important part is “relationship”.

If I stood up, pointed the finger at one of you and said, “You are a hypocrite”, there is no reciprocity.”

If I stand up and say, “I am a hypocrite, and if you examine your hearts by the word of God, you may find that you are hypocrites also.”  That is reciprocal – because you and I are in a relationship.  Together we admit our need for Grace.

Notice that Jesus says in v. 3, “When you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye…”  This illustration is about people who are in a relationship.  We know that the New Testament compares the Christian Church to a family.  In Jesus we are brothers and sisters.  So one application of this illustration is how we can deal with each other’s flaws in the family of believers.  This is a reciprocal relationship.

Notice also that Jesus says in verse 5, “…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

This means that there is room for judgment in the community of believers.  If we see a fault in others, out first response should not be to condemn.  Nor should it be to act like you are better.

This means that there can be an exchange.  If and when I have had my sins addressed by the Lord, I might be in a position to help another person with those.  This is not me inserting myself in their lives. It is rather an offer to help as a fellow sinner and a fellow recipient of Grace.

We have to ask what this verse is here to say to us.  I think it is related to this question of Judgment.  And I believe it is telling us that we have to discern who we are speaking to.

If the other person is a brother or sister, then the teaching about specks and planks apply.  There is a place for loving confrontation.

What if the person is not in a mutual relationship?

v.6 Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Jesus is not speaking here about a house pet.  He is speaking about dogs from the ancient near east.  We could probably translate the word as “Junk yard dog.”

Would you give your Bible, or the American flag, or your family photo album to a Junk Yard Dog?  No, because he would not care of the value you place on the thing.  He would chew it up or bury it or who knows what.

Would you put your wedding ring, or your grandmothers pearl necklace, or your college diploma in a pig pen?  No, because you care too much for those things.  They are valuable and the pig has no sense of their value.

This verse is about with what is sacred and of valuable with the kinds of people who show no regard for what is sacred.

Where we share a relationship with God, we can also share in mutual confrontation and correction, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Where there is no relationship with God, we cannot share in mutual confrontation and correction.


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