Saturday, July 15, 2017

The "evil treasure" of criticism

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 12:22-37

TO CHEW ON: " 'Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.' " Matthew 12:34

Though Jesus did at times withdraw from confrontation with the Pharisees (as we saw yesterday), it was never because He was intimidated by them. In our reading today He calls them a "brood of vipers."

His harsh name for them was in response to their reaction to His miracle of freeing a demon-possessed blind and mute man to see and speak. They said He did this miracle by Satan's power.

He showed the lack of logic in that (Matthew 12:25-30), called what they said blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, named it the unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:31-32), and then exposed the root of their problem: hearts full of "evil treasure" (Matthew 12:33-37).

We would call what's in our hearts our thoughts. The Pharisees' words here showed that their thoughts were critical and judgmental. Do you ever struggle with critical, judgmental thoughts? I do.

Joyce Meyer in her book Battlefield of the Mind says:

"Judgment and criticism are fruit of a deeper problem—pride. When the 'I' in us is bigger than it should be, it will always cause problems...The Bible repeatedly warns us about being high-minded" - p. 125.

She goes on to cite Bible verses for judgmental, critical people to consider:

  • Romans 14:4 tells us some things about which we judge others others are simply none of our business.
  • Matthew 7:1-2 reminds us that the principle of sowing and reaping apply to judgment. If we judge others habitually and harshly, that same judgmental attitude will be unleashed on our lives.
  • Matthew 7:3-5 tells us to judge ourselves before we judge others.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:7 says we should make a practice of believing the best about other people rather than assuming their actions spring from bad motives.
  • Galatians 6:1-3 makes it clear that sometimes judgment is appropriate and necessary. It shows us how to deal with sin and misconduct in someone's life in a constructive way: with gentleness, with watchfulness so as not to fall into the same temptation, and with humility and knowledge of our own vulnerability.

Jesus' little proverb — "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" — let's take it seriously. Let's listen to ourselves. What is spilling out of the abundance of our own hearts? If it's criticism and judgment, let's ask God to change our prideful hearts.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, these are sobering thoughts. Help me to hear my words today and gain insight into the state of my heart. Then help me to change by applying and obeying Your Bible words. Amen.

 Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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