The Sympathetic Spirit

Matthew

The Sympathetic Spirit

July 4th, 1965 @ 7:30 PM

Matthew 7:1-6

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
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THE SYMPATHETIC SPIRIT

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 7:1-6

7-4-65      7:30 p.m.

 

On the radio, on WRR, you are invited to take your Bible, to open it with us at the First Gospel.  And beginning with the first verse of chapter 7, we read together through verse 6, Matthew 7:1-6.  In our preaching through the life of Christ, we have been following the words of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount, and the title of the message tonight is The Sympathetic Spirit.  Now we read out loud together, Matthew 7:1-6, all of us together:

 

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:  and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend thee.

[Matthew 7:1-6]

 

Now you have in this first admonition, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" [Matthew 7:1].  The Lord has a tremendously vital and significant meaning there, and we at first might not see it.  Does the Lord mean that I am not to equate a man’s life, his possibilities, his capabilities?  Am I not to judge him in so many relationships that we form in life?  No, He would have no thought of a reference like that.

For example, suppose a young woman were considering marrying a young man.  There are a thousand judgments that ought to enter into the decision, for the giving of her life to that young fellow.  Suppose you were seeking an employee in a very responsible place, as in a bank.  Would it not be wise to enter into all of the business judgments of which you are capable, when you hire the young fellow for those responsibilities?  Suppose you were a commanding officer at a post.  Suppose you were a colonel on a field of battle.  With all of the fine, strategical military judgments of which you were capable, you ought to choose these men.

All of life is filled with those appraisals and those judgments, and the same thing in the church; in choosing officers and in choosing people for responsibility, there would be inevitably that choice by judgment.  Now, the Lord spake of that when, in the twentieth verse of this same chapter, He said "every tree that bringeth forth good fruit," why, that is a good tree.  "If the tree bringeth forth not good fruit, it is a corrupt tree.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" [Matthew 7:17-20].

A man’s life and his character and all of the things that make him what he is, is to be found in the fruit of his life, the repercussion of his days, how it is that things follow after when he speaks and when he acts and when he does.  "By their fruits ye shall know them."  One of the smart little things said by Howard Butt – I remember, in this pulpit long time ago he spoke here, and first time I ever heard him, he referred to himself as a grocery boy.  Well, I didn’t know anything about him, and I just supposed he was one of the little fellows selling groceries in a grocery store somewhere.  Well, I learned different about that as time went on.  Well, Howard Butt said one time he was speaking about a fellow, and somebody said to him, "Now, Howard, you must not judge people," and he said, "I’m not a judge.  I’m just a fruit inspector."  Now, I thought that was smart, and says it exactly.  "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."  There is a judgment, there is an appraisal, that enters into our life that is inescapable.

Well, what is this that our Lord speaks to us when He says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again"? [Matthew 7:1].  Well, the thing that lies in the meaning of our Lord is to be found in the exact meaning of the word that He used.  The word that He uses is krinó, krinó.  Now let me read it out of another passage here in the New Testament.  In John 3:18, it says, "He that believeth on Him is not krinó" – there’s that word – "He that believeth not is krinó already, for God sent not His Son into the world to krinó the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" [John 3:17], and here it is translated "condemned."  "For God sent not His Son into the world to krinó," the same word, "to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved."  May I choose just one other instance out of so many here?  In the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Lord says, "If any man hear My voice, and believe not, I judge Him not" – and there’s the same word translated here "judge" – "I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world" [John 12:47].

In one place it is translated "condemn," and another place, same word, translated "judge."  Now with that background I think you can get an inkling of what our Lord meant when He used the word krinó.   What He is talking about is a censorious, critical, holier-than-thou condemnation.  "Don’t you do that," says our Lord.  "Don’t you lift yourself up; don’t you gather your skirts about you and in supercilious superiority look down upon others and condemn others!  For," says our Lord, "that same condemnation you shall mete in your own life if you do it."

Now, what does our Lord mean by that: "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged"? [Matthew 7:1].  Is He talking about: "It will be two for two, and one for one, according to the manner and the measure thereof"?  "It will be tit for tat, it will eye for eye, and tooth for a tooth"?  "If I criticize him, he is going to criticize me, and if I am that way toward that one, he will be that way toward me, and I’ll reap exactly what I sow"? 

Well, that’s sort of the meaning, but it’s not quite, it’s not quite.  I believe His exact meaning is this: it is not that when I’m censorious and supercilious and superior, and I go around criticizing others and condemning others, it is not that they will therefore follow after me and criticize me and condemn me.  It’s not that, but what our Lord is saying is that, however I am, I’m going to meet myself wherever I go, in the cultural and social life of the people, in the aggregate man.  However I am toward them, that’s the way that I am going to be toward myself.  I’m going to meet myself in the people I know and the people I meet, and in my attitude toward them I’m going to find a reflection of that same attitude toward me.

Could I illustrate that?  Long time ago, I heard a story that’s been oft repeated.  There was a family moving from Johnstown to Jamestown, and halfway from Johnstown to Jamestown, they saw a man and they pulled up the wagon and said, "We are moving from Johnstown to Jamestown.  What kind of people are there over there in Jamestown?"  And the fellow that they met said, "Well, what kind of people did you know over there in Johnstown?"

"Oh!" said the man, "They are the worst people in the world.  They are trifling, and no-good, and sorry, and no-account, and that’s why we’re leaving, and we’re moving to Jamestown just to get out of that crowd over there at Johnstown!"  And the old philosopher said, "Now, now," he said, "that’s the same kind of people you’re going to meet in Jamestown; the same kind.  The most trifling, and no-account, and good-for-nothing people in the world are those over there that are living in Jamestown; just the same kind of folks!"

Well, the story said there was another fellow moving his family from Johnstown to Jamestown, and he met that same guy midway, and he pulled up his wagon: "Whoa!"  Now you kids don’t know what "whoa" means.  "Whoa!" means when you stop a horse: "Whoa, whoa!"  And so they asked the old fellow, they said, "You know, we’re moving from Johnstown to Jamestown.  What kind of people are they over there in Jamestown, our new neighbors?"

"Oh!" said the old fellow, "What kind of folks were they back there in Johnstown?"

"Oh," said that man who was moving, "I never saw such fine people in my life.  I never knew such fine neighbors in my life.  They are the finest people in the world over there in Johnstown, and it just hurt our souls to leave them."

"Well," said the old philosopher, "Don’t you worry.  The same kind of marvelous people you’re going to meet over there in Jamestown.  They’re going to be the finest folks, and they’re going to be the nicest neighbors, and you’re going to love them to death, just as you did the folks over there in Johnstown."

That’s what Jesus is talking about.  When you go around and you are censorious, and condemnatory, and fault-finding, and supercilious, and superior, and you condemn everybody around you, and only you are right – like that mother said when she watched her boy in the parade: "Look at my boy!  He’s the only one in step!" bless her heart – when you’re that way and everything is wrong and you only are right, you’re going to meet that same thing in your life wherever you go.  You can’t escape it. 

"Judge not," that censorious condemnation, "Judge not," that supercilious and superior spirit, "Judge not, for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again" [Matthew 7:1-2].

I don’t care what people may think about him otherwise; if a man in his heart is generous, and full of love and charity, and he has a crust of bread for the poor and a cup of cold water for the thirsty, if he’s a good man and a godly man, even his enemies are forced to praise him [Proverbs 16:7].  It’s just life, it just is.

Now our Lord illustrates that with two things that He says.  First, He says, "Why beholdest thou the mote, the karphos" – you know, if I were to do my best to translate that word karphos, I would do it like this.  If you ever saw a buzz saw, and they were pushing a plank through a buzz saw, why, you know how the sawdust and the little particles just fly – everything, and that noise – you know, that buzz saw.  All right, you pick out one of those littlest, weensiest, tiniest particles of that noise of the buzz saw, and that’s a karphos.  All right, not we got the karphos in mind.

"And why beholdest thou the karphos," that little, teensy-weensy speck of dust, "why beholdest thou that little mote, that little karphos, in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the dokon" – that’s a joist, a joist, a big log – "in your own eye?" [Matthew 7:3].  You see, our Lord is, He is really illustrating this thing.  "Why beholdest thou that little piece of dust, that little fleck of sawdust, that mote in thy brother’s eye, but you’re not even thinking about that big beam, that joist, that whole log that’s sticking out of your own eye?"  Now He says, "You pull out that beam, you pull out that joist, you pull out that log that is in your own eye, and then you can see clearly how to get out that little fleck of dust in thy brother’s eye" [Matthew 7:5].  Well, well, now, what does the Lord mean about that? 

Does the Lord mean that we have this kind of an attitude?  "Why, you old sot, you!  I just drink one, I just drink one glass of whiskey a day, and you drink a hundred, and you are just a hundred times worse than I am!"  Is that what He is talking about?  Is He talking about, "You know what, you steal a hundred dollars out of the cash register a day, and I only steal five dollars out of the cash register a day; therefore you’re twenty times worse than I"?  Now, I got my arithmetic right there, didn’t I?  "Twenty times worse than I"; oh, no, he is not talking about such a thing as that at all.  As between a guy drinking a little bit and drinking a whole lot, or stealing a little bit or stealing a whole lot, or lying a little bit or lying a whole lot, He is not thinking about that.

What He is talking about is that censorious spirit, that hypocritical better and holier-than-thou spirit, and He is illustrating the fact, he is illustrating the fact by the mote and by the beam!  And here is what He is talking about: here is a man who is a sinner – maybe a self-confessed sinner – well, he sinned, and he has done wrong!  And here is a brother in the church and in the household of God, and he belongs to the saints of the Lord, and in his holiness, and in his sacred, pharisaical religiosity and piousity, why, he looks upon that condemned sinner over there with all kinds of words of condemnation.

And the Lord says – now you listen to it – the Lord says that the sin of that man over there, however carnal or vile it may be, is like a mote!  It’s like a dust compared to the log, and the joist, and the beam that is the sin of that man who considers himself so much better! 

Ah, my!  Some of the experiences that I’ve had as a pastor!  There was a man in my little church – oh! he was a fine, charitable, generous-hearted man, but he had a weakness, he had a weakness.  Once in a while he would drink, once in a while he would drink.  Why that man wanted to do that, I don’t know, I don’t know, but once in a while he would drink.

And I had another man in that little church, and he was the deacon, and he looked upon himself as the righteous judge for all of the community, and he set himself up as the boss and the leader of the church.  So upon a day, he came to me – and I was just a kid – he came to me, and he said, "Young fellow, this coming church conference on Saturday afternoon at two o’clock, if you don’t get that man come down here and make a confession before the church and ask the church to forgive him, I’m going to see to it that he is withdrawn from our fellowship.  Now, you do one or the other.  You get him down here, or I’m going to throw him out of the church."

Well, I was young and inexperienced, and I didn’t know what to do.  All that I knew was I had a thousand times rather be with that man who took his drink once in a while than to be with that caustic, and censorious, and critical, and holier-than-thou deacon, who plowed up every church he ever belonged to; who destroyed the heart and spirit of every pastor they ever had over the congregation; and who simply made a man of God wish he had never been born!  Isn’t that strange how God’s people can be mean, and how they can be like the devil, and how they can be filled with every unholy holier, censorious spirit that you can imagine?  Isn’t that strange how they can be?  Lord, I don’t mind falling into the hands of the drunkards, but dear God, deliver me from the hands of the Pharisees.

Well, anyway, I was inexperienced.  So I went down to the house, and I sat down by that brother, and I told him, I said, "This coming Saturday afternoon at two o’clock we’re having our monthly church conference, and you are to come down and to make confession to the church and ask the church forgiveness, or you’re going to be turned out of the church."  So when Saturday afternoon came, at two o’clock in the afternoon, there was that little faithful band, and there sat that deacon.

And I stood up to moderate, and I made the best speech that I could.  And I introduced this brother, and he got up, and in the best way that he could, he stammered out a confession.  And he said, "I’ve got a weakness, and I don’t know why I do it, but I have a weakness.  And once in a while, I drink, and I’m asking the church to forgive me."  And I said, "All of you here in the church who will forgive him, hold up your hands," and that skunk of a deacon held up his hand: "I forgive him!"  But if I were God, and if I were the judge of the souls of men, it’s that deacon I would have had stand up and ask the church to forgive him!

Oh! To me, his spirit!  And he nearly ruined mine. It is that kind of a man, it’s that kind of a Pharisee, it’s that kind of a hypocrite – maybe he never drank any, and we ought not to drink; and maybe he never cussed any, and we ought not to cuss; and maybe he never lied any, and we ought not to lie; and maybe he never sinned any – we ought not to sin; but, my Lord, he made the church miserable, and he made the pastor miserable, and he made God’s people miserable, and he brought dissention and criticism in the household of faith.

That’s exactly what Jesus is talking about.  He is not talking about a man stealing a little bit and stealing a whole lot; a mote and a beam.  He is not talking about a man lying a little bit and lying a whole lot.  He is not talking about that.  What He is talking about is these sins of the flesh compared to the violent and terrible sins of the spirit!  Now, it is remarkable how the Lord rang a change on that.

That’s the story of the prodigal son, exactly the story of the prodigal son.  The prodigal son wasted his substance in riotous living.  He even devoted his money with harlots, and with prostitutes, and drinking!  He was as vile as any young fellow could be [Luke 15:13-14].  But his elder brother said to his father, "Never at any time did I transgress thy commandment.  I have lived in rectitude, and I have lived in purity, and I have lived in holiness all of the days of my life.  And yet you never killed for me any fatted calf, and you never made merry for me when I came home from work, and you were never nice to me, and there’s no ring on my finger, and there’s no new clothes on my body, and there’s no feast you have created for me [Luke 15:29-30].  You see the spirit, full of jealousy, full of envy, full of criticism, full of condemnation, full of superiority?  And when the story is told, somehow you cannot help but believe that God loved that prodigal boy who came to himself, and back to his father’s house, and said, "Lord, master, father, I’m not worthy.  I’m not worthy.  I’ve wasted my substance, and I’ve sinned, and I’ve done wrong.  But lord, but master, I want to come home [Luke 15:18-21].  Make me just, let me raise the window in the house of the Lord, or let me sweep out the floor.  Let me be a janitor.  Let me be a servant.  I’m not worthy to be a son."  Somehow your heart goes out to that repentant and prodigal boy, and somehow you can’t help but look with pitiful disdain on that elder brother.  That’s what He is talking about.  That’s what He is talking about:  the mote and the beam, the carnal sin and the censorious spirit.  Lord, deliver us from it.

Then He illustrated it in another way.  "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" [Matthew 7:6].  Well, what does He mean there?  Now, the hog, of course, is an unclean animal in Palestine.  Tom McCall just came back from Palestine.  You don’t find any pork chops at a bar mitzvah, I bet you, I bet you.  He is an unclean animal, a pig.  And even today in the Jordan there are wild pigs, and those wild boars are vicious with their great, turned-up tusks.  And, of course, He is likening pearls to, like we’d call maize, and here are these wild pigs, these unclean animals, and they think they’re going to be fed, and you scatter pearls, little pearls, little seed pearls.  What is a pearl to a pig?  He wants maize, or corn!  His stomach needs to be fed, and what is a pearl to a pig?  And when he tries to eat the things, why, it’s nothing, and he’s angry, and he viciously turns around, and attacks, and tramples, and rends those from whom he’s receiving pearls, when he thought he was receiving maize.  Now our Lord says, "Before those who have judgments that are not in keeping with the Spirit of God, do not lay your heart open before them.  Do not do it.  Do not ever do it."

He illustrated that in His own life.  In Jerusalem, when He was brought before Pontius Pilate and accused by the elders of the people, when Pontius Pilate heard that He was from Galilee and that Herod Antipas was in Jerusalem, he hurried the Lord Jesus off, and said, "Let Herod Antipas decide this case."  And when Herod Antipas saw Him, the Bible says that "He was glad: for he had heard about those marvelous things that Jesus had done, and the miracles He had wrought by His hands" [Luke 23:6-8].  So when the Lord was brought before Herod Antipas, Herod asked Him, and talked to Him, and enticed Him, and bribed Him, and pled with Him, and begged Him.  He wanted to see some marvelous miracle done by the hands of the Lord Jesus.  And the Book says that the Lord never spake a word, not a word, not one, not a syllable.  He never opened His mouth in the presence of Herod Antipas [Luke 23:9], and Herod Antipas, in disgust and disdain, hied him off and back to Pontius Pilate [Luke 23:10-11]; pearls before swine, pearls before pigs [Matthew 7:6].

And the same way about our hearts and the burdens of your heart; don’t ever tell them to people who are not worthy and heavenly sympathetic.  Don’t you ever do it.  Don’t you ever do it.  I’ve seen people again and again and again bare the burden of their hearts and bare maybe the secret of their lives to somebody else, and that somebody else take it and use it as a luscious and delightful tidbit of gossip, and just go around, go around: "Did you know?  Did you know?  Did you know?  Did you know?  Did you know?"  Oh, don’t ever do it!

May I take out of the Bible?  Look at this, the Shunammite woman: when her boy died, she took him up to the prophet’s chamber and laid him on Elisha’s bed, and then ran to the prophet [2 Kings 4:20-24].  And the prophet, being afar off on Mount Carmel, he looked down the road, and he saw that Shunammite woman, and he said to Gehazi his servant – – and if there ever was an unworthy man, it was Gehazi, he died a leper under the judgment of God – – Gehazi.  He saw, Elisha saw, that Shunammite woman:

 

 And he said to Gehazi his servant, That is that Shunammite.  You run to meet her, and ask her, Is it well with thee?  Is it well with thy husband?  Is it well with the child? 

And Gehazi ran to meet her, and he asked the words of his master, Is it well with thee?  Is it well with the husband?  Is it well with the child? 

And she said, It is well

 [2 Kings 4:25-26]

 

And passed him by.

When you meet somebody on the street and they say, "How are you today?" always answer, "Man, I’m fine!"  When you meet somebody on the street, and they say, "How are you today?" say, "I’m superb!"  And that’s my best adjective; tell them that.  Tell them that.  They don’t care anything about how you are or how you feel.  Or you could say this: "Well, you just stand here for two hours, and I’ll tell you about how I feel."  Yeah!

She passed him by.  She never said a word to him except "Yes, it’s well.  Yes, I’m fine."  And she ran to the prophet Elisha, and clasped him about the feet, and Gehazi came to kick her away!  And Elisha said, "No, not so.  Her heart is troubled.  Her soul is burdened.  The Lord has not revealed to me what it is" [2 Kings 4:27].  And she told him about her boy that was dead, and she had laid him in the prophet’s chamber.  And you look:

 

And Elisha turned to Gehazi, and said, Take my staff, and lay it on the face of the dead boy,

And Gehazi took the staff and went away; but that woman held the feet of Elisha.  And she says, As my soul liveth, and as my Lord liveth, I will not leave thee.  And he followed her.

And Gehazi went upstairs to the prophet’s chamber, and laid the staff on the face of the dead boy, and he was still dead, still dead.  And he came back and met Elisha, and said, The boy is still dead.

And Elisha came, and went upstairs and closed the door, and got down on his knees, and talked to God.

Then he laid his body over the cold, still, lifefess body of the lad, and he put his mouth over the mouth of the boy, and his heart over the heart of the boy, and his warm body over the cold body of the boy; and God answered prayer, and the life of the prophet and the breath of the prophet entered into the still, cold form of the boy, and he raised up.

And Elisha gave the boy back to his mother.

[2 Kings 4: 29-37]

 

Don’t you ever tell Gehazi how you are; don’t do it.  Don’t you ever tell Gehazi the burdens of your soul.  Don’t you do it.  If you have a friend that sticketh closer than a brother [Proverbs 18:24], you can tell him.  He will divide your burden.  He’ll double your joy; a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  And that leads me to Jesus; you can tell Him all about it, and He will understand:

 

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;

I cannot bear my burdens alone;

In my distress He kindly will help me;

He ever loves and cares for His own.

 

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

I cannot bear my burdens alone;

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

 

I wonder if we can sing that song?  Let’s sing it:

 

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;

I cannot bear my burdens alone;

In my distress He kindly will help me;

He ever loves and cares for His own.

 

I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus!

I cannot bear my burdens alone;

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

["I Must Tell Jesus," Elisha A. Hoffman]

 

And I don’t believe any tear ever fell from our eyes, and I don’t believe any agonizing prayer ever ascended to glory from our souls, but that He bowed down His ear to hear, and the Lord looked down from heaven to see the sympathetic and understanding spirit.

Now we must sing our song, and while we sing it, somebody you, give himself to Jesus; a couple you, coming into the fellowship of the church; a family you, devoting your life with us in this ministry; however the Spirit of the Lord shall open the way, shall say the word, shall press the appeal, make it tonight.  In this balcony round, on this lower floor, into the aisle, down to the front: "Pastor, here I am.  Here I come."  As God shall lead the way, make it tonight, make it now, come, while we stand and while we sing.

 

THE SYMPATHETIC SPIRIT

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 7:1-6

7-4-65

 

I.          Judge not (Matthew 7:1-2)

A.  There are opinions, judgments, estimates that we must make (Matthew 7:16, 20)

B.  What is this judging which is prohibited?

      1.  Krino – condemn (John 3:17-18, 12:47)

      2.  We are not to criticize with a censorious, bitter spirit

      3.  We will see our attitude reflected back toward us

a. Johnstown and Jamestown

 

II.         A vivid application (Matthew 7:3-6)

A.  The mote, the karphos – teensy speck of dust

B.  The beam, the dokon – the whole log

C. "Holier than thou" attitude

      1.  Deacon vs. church member who drank

D.  Sins of the flesh compared to sins of the spirit

      1.  Prodigal son and his brother (Luke 15:11-32)

      2.  Pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6, Luke 23:6-11)

E.  Don’t share burdens of your heart with those who are not worthy

      1.  Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:25-36)

      2.  Hymn, "I Must Tell Jesus"