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Clear Vision

Published: 8 months ago- 27 August 2023
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SERMON MANUSCRIPT

Big Idea: Jesus helps us see how to truly love others as wise disciples.

When I needed to replace my prescription sunglasses I went to Specsavers at Brookside. Maybe that was because I park in the same section of the car park whenever I go to the shopping centre and that is the first optometrist I see when I walk in. Maybe it is due to that great tagline… Should have gone to Specsavers. Or maybe it’s their ads … people doing silly and embarrassing things because of poor eyesight. Specsavers. These are the guys who will give you clear vision. These are the guys who will prevent you from making silly and embarrassing mistakes. And today Jesus instructs us to live the Specsavers life.

How do we live the Specsavers life?

How do we live as people with clear vision who avoid silliness? It’s an important question.

We laugh at the Specsavers ad of a beach volleyball tournament where a player mistakes a seagull for a volleyball and spikes it into the sand. We laugh at the vet trying to resuscitate his assistant’s fluffy winter hat thinking it to be a cat. We laugh at the disrobed guy who mistakes Gordon Ramsey’s steamed-up kitchen for a sauna. We laugh because we would hate to be in that position ourselves – better go to Specsavers.

But what Jesus is warning us against is no laughing matter. To live the Specsavers life means having clear vision and avoiding silliness as we live in these last days as his followers. In our passage, Jesus identifies two areas.

AS WE RELATE TO OTHERS (V1-6, 12).

Jesus says having clear vision and avoiding silliness when relating to others means having wisdom, humility and discernment.

Wisdom, humility and discernment.

Jesus knows what we are like and what we need

Take a look v1, here’s the Wisdom Read v1

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Been suggested that this is the world’s favourite Bible verse – You can’t judge me! Jesus is not saying you will never have to make a judgment call. He does it in our passage – hypocrites, pigs and dogs. And Chapter 7 is full of judgment calls: broad and narrow way, true and false prophets, good and bad fruit, false disciples, wise and foolish builders. So, wisdom is not the absence of judgment calls. But be very careful. This is a big warning sign – reflective yellow with bold black writing…

Danger! Hazardous conditions ahead.

Proceed with caution.

Read v2

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Be wise when relating to others. Here’s a wise practice. Think of the way you treat others as an invitation for God to treat you in the same way. Treat others in such a way that you would be pleased for God to use the same attitude and the same standard, when he is dealing with you. Could you pray, Lord please use the same method and the same measure on me that I use on others.

Wisdom is the practice of being very careful about what you let out of your mouth and repenting of what might be rattling around in your head. Would you like God to exercise grace and mercy as he deals with you? Adopt that posture toward others. Treat others with grace and mercy.

This has always been God’s desire for his people.

Read v12

So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

It’s been said that we judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intent. We are more lenient with ourselves than we are with others. Jesus warns us to be very careful in making a judgment call. In v5 we read that there are times when we will need to remove a speck from someone’s eye. To bring correction or offer direction. To help people push on following Jesus But don’t move to v5 before you look at v3-4. This is the humility we need.

Read v3

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Here is a silly situation; here’s a Specsavers ad. The plank that Jesus is referring to is the supporting beam of a house. Long enough and thick enough to support the weight of the whole roof. Not something that will go unnoticed. But do notice the contrast. Speck of sawdust vs plank of wood. The same substance but in vastly different proportions. Well says Jesus,

Read v4

4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

You can’t get up close and personal to remove a speck with a long plank of wood stuck out your head! You can’t see well enough to deal with something small while you are visually impaired by something so large. I think we are supposed to see the humour in this. It’s like Jesus invented the Specsavers genre.

You need clear vision when you relate with others so that you avoid silliness.

I always make sure that I have brushed my teeth really, really well before I go to the dentist. But I give them an even better clean when I go to the optometrist. Because I know that they will be very close, in my face. It’s the nature of eye work. The answer that Jesus wants us to come up with from this little riddle, this amusing word picture is quite obvious. Remove your plank first. Here is the basis of humility. Understand your condition. That whopping plank. Deal with your own sinfulness and spiritual shortcomings. Being aware of the depths of your own sin, the broken tendencies of your own heart. There is no better way to do this than to read and meditate on God’s Word the double-edged sword that pierces the very heart of the believer and reveals sin and reminds us of our need for the ongoing work of God in our lives.

Come to God in repentance and seek his work in you by His Holy Spirit so that you might better reflect the character of Christ. Remember that our standing with God is not on our performance but on what Christ has achieved on our behalf. This self-awareness, this reflection, and this understanding develop the humility we need to keep from being the hypocrite of v5.

Read v5.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Don’t be a hypocrite, don’t be a faker. Don’t be like the Pharisees who were quick to correct others but blind to their own condition. Could be that the speck is there to remind you of your plank?

Don’t pretend like you don’t have faith struggles of your own. Deal with them, repent, refresh, recommit. Confess them to one another. It would be worth starting and ending every day with this sort of self-reflection and prayer.

And then you’ll always be in the right state of mind to talk to your brother about his speck, to talk to your sister about that grain of sawdust.

v5b then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

So, in order to live with clear vision and avoid silliness we need wisdom and humility. And we need discernment. That’s what verse 6 is teaching.

Read v6

“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.

My favourite cafe in Cronulla had a sign out the front, “Pretend it’s the 90’s and leave your dog outside.” What is it with our society where we serve doggy- chino’s? Silliness is giving what is precious to dogs! We are in danger of missing the cultural import of these verses.

Not talking about Babe, the cute little pig from the movies. Not talking about your fur-babies who sleep on your bed and are considered part of the family. I have a brother who tells his dog that I’m its uncle!!! These animals Jesus is talking about are dangerous and dirty. Absolutely offensive to the Jews at that time. Gentiles were referred to as dogs. Pigs were a forbidden animal. Neither can appreciate the value of the precious or sacred.

Don’t give to these vile animals dogs or pigs things that are precious and sacred. They will not appreciate your efforts or what you offer. Jesus is warning that there will be times when you need discernment. When some people in the church will not receive correction or direction. When they will not

appreciate your wise and godly counsel. No matter how humble. When it is detrimental to the cause of the gospel to share with non-Christians. There are times when clear vision will reveal to us the silliness of bringing godly counsel to some. Shake the dust from your feet. Leave them to their foolishness and lostness. Sometimes such actions will help them to see their real need of Jesus.

God is gracious.

I had a friend who took 8 years before he was ready to hear anything about the gospel. For eight years we’d catch up for coffee and chat but he was resistant to any talk of the gospel. Until he got cancer. Then he was ready. Then he heard. And about a week before I conducted his funeral he became a follower of Jesus. One of the wardsmen in the hospital talked to him. The second aspect of Jesus’ teaching here about having clear vision and avoiding silliness is …

AS WE RELATE TO GOD (V7-12).

Read v7-8

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

At Bible College I learned an acronym for how to pray ACTS … Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Shopping List. Here is another prayer acronym, from Jesus. ASK … Ask, Seek, Knock… A.S.K. Jesus is giving us permission to be bold in prayer. Just ask.

There have been a number of different people knocking on our door recently. Looking to sell something or raise money for something. Different people, same trait. Boldness. Not shy in asking for money.

I choose not to engage with them for too long. But I should learn from their boldness. Confidently, boldly, persistently come to God with the promise that he will answer your requests.

Take a look with me … v7 ask, v8 ask, v9 ask, v10 ask, v11 ask. Can you pick up what Jesus is putting down? Prayer works. Not just speaking to the ceiling. Your Heavenly Father hears and will answer. Ask, seek, knock and you will receive, you will find, the door will be open. Is that you? Do you ask? Do you pray? In the NT book of James, the author says you do not have because you do not ask. Here Jesus says, ask. As a church do we ask. Jesus is pretty clear isn’t he. Do you want to receive, do you want to find, do you want that door open? Ask.

What is the basis for our hope in this promise? The very nature of our Heavenly Father. Look at Jesus’ statement. He says if the lesser is true how much more is the greater true?

Read v9-11

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

If earthly fathers who are distracted, stressed, tired, busy and at times self-focused, and here described as evil, if they know how to give good gifts to their kids. How much more will our loving, generous Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask? Again, the very one who did not spare his Son but gave him that we might live, that we could be called his children. He will answer.

I notice that Supa-Cheap Auto are advertising Courtesy Dads in their shops in the lead up to Father’s Day. Have you seen those ads? These guys wear Courtesy Dad t-shirts and they can point little shoppers in the direction of gifts that their Dads will actually want.

Well, you don’t need a courtesy dad when you have the Heavenly Father. He gives good gifts to all who ask. What are the good gifts? I have a list of what I think good gifts might be … The NIV heading inserted here between v6 and v7 is unhelpful. In the context of this passage, it is the wisdom to live with clear vision and to avoid silly and embarrassing mistakes. Wisdom to live lovingly with one another as God’s people. James again, If anyone lacks wisdom, they should pray. Here is Jesus promising that God will give us the Wisdom to live lovingly with one another.

Read v12

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

What Jesus is unfolding in this passage is how his followers are to love others for their good and for their flourishing. In OT we learn that part of loving your neighbour as yourself is frank rebuke.

Lev 19:17-18 … rebuke your neighbour frankly.

Don’t leave others in their error, you will not be guiltless if you do. Help with the speck. To truly love others means there will be times when we need to offer correction and direction with prayerful wisdom and humility.

Recently, ex-Olympian Steven Bradbury who won Australia’s first winter Olympic gold by not falling over; received another medal. He was awarded a bravery award for rescuing four teenage girls from the surf at Caloundra back in March.He has been recognised for his brave act.

In the context of chapter 7 Jesus calling us to an action that may not get awards or applause in this life but which expresses great saving love for our brothers and sisters. Here is a definition of love for our neighbour. It means that for their eternal good, there will be times when we need to rebuke frankly, and with prayerful humility. My prescription sunglasses from Specsavers enable me to see life clearly in the sun … S.U.N. Our passage today helps us to see life clearly in the SON.

A few things we should notice. Specks point to planks

Your plank is no excuse not to help with another’s speck.

There’s a core muscle exercise called a plank. Should be planking regularly during the week for a strong core.

We should be planking daily, reminding ourselves of the good news of the gospel daily for a strong, wise humility.

There will be times when we need to speak the truth in love and when we need to practice correction; to remove the speck.

Part of our responsibility as members of a church is to help one another live out faithful discipleship. That’s why we are saved into a community, the church. Jesus nowhere suggests that in the last days, our church will be perfect and without challenges.

It’s just naive to think that MPC will be all peace, love and mung beans without us being wise and careful as we attend to our planks and help others with their specks. We have some stormy waters to navigate at the moment. Rest assured, more will come. But this is how we are ready to face them in a godly way as followers of Jesus. That’s what a healthy Christian community looks like. We need wisdom as we proceed with caution and discernment. We need humility both to help and to be helped.

We need persistence in prayer … ask, ask, ask. According to Jesus, that’s how you live the Specsaver life; having clear vision and are able to avoid silliness.