Matthew 7:4
This is kindred to judging, and so these are here closely associated. The Duty of reproving should be discharged with discretion.

I. THE REPROVING OF A BROTHER SHOULD BE CONSIDERATE.

1. Reproof is a precious and holy thing.

(1) So it is described (ver. 6). The snuffers in the sanctuary were of pure gold (see also Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 3:18; Proverbs 25:12).

(2) It is sanctioned by the holiest examples. Moses; the prophets; Christ.

(3) It serves holy uses.

(a) Saves souls from death (see James 5:19, 20).

(b) Frees our souls from the guilt of complicity (see Leviticus 19:17, margin).

(c) Leaves the sinner without excuse. So the fidelity of Noah condemned the antediluvians (Hebrews 11:7).

2. The office of reprover should not be lightly undertaken.

(1) We are naturally too prone to attempt to set others right. Envy and malice give us piercing vision to discern motes in their eves.

(2) Blindness to our own faults proves us disqualified to cure those of others. Reproof is too often an attempt to depreciate the reproved that the reprover may be better thought of.

(3) It is hypocrisy to pretend zeal for the amendment of others while we have none for our own. Since the prerogative to reprove is with the saint, hypocrites reprove to simulate the saint.

(4) To correct error in another requires moral principle as well as intellectual discernment. Sin destroys spiritual vision. In overlooking this parents err in correcting their children. The truly righteous are the most merciful.

(5) Our badness must not excuse us from reproving. Rendering us unfit to reprove, it does not release us from the obligation to become fit. "A man's offence can never become his defence."

II. THE INCORRIGIBLY WICKED ARE BEYOND REPROOF.

1. They are described as dogs and swine.

(1) Some, like the dog, are pronouncedly unclean. The dog does not part the hoof. He makes no profession of a clean walk. Neither does he chew the cud. lie does not ruminate upon spiritual things.

(2) Some profess to be better than they are., The hog parts the hoof. Here is the profession of a clean walk. But then he does not chew the cud. He is filthy in the thoughts and intents of the heart. Note:

(3) The hog is no less abominable than the dog. False-faced sinners are the more offensive.

2. Their dispositions are brutish.

(1) They would trample upon pearls. The ungodly see no more beauty in holiness than the hog sees in a gem.

(2) They would turn again and rend you. The more refined are your tastes and dispositions the more intensely will the wicked hate you, and the more viciously will they treat you.

3. Let tide incorrigible alone.

(1) "Give not that which is holy." The allusion is to the holy things of the sanctuary. These were things which had touched the altar and were of the nature of sacrifice.

(2) Such things were never intended for dogs. They were eaten by the priests and Levites. The gospel is the "children's bread." There is no gospel for the impenitent.

(3) Our respect for Christ should lead us to preach repentance first rather than faith to the wicked. Resentment against reproof is the sign of an unclean nature.

(4) We are not needlessly to hazard our lives in reproving the wicked. The hog will mistake the pearl of reproof for the stone of reproach (see Jeremiah 6:10; Luke 11:45). He will "turn again" in resentment. So Herod turned upon the Baptist.

(5) Our time may be better employed in preaching to those who will hear (see Acts 13:41).

LESSONS.

1. There are degrees in sin - the mote as compared with the beam.

2. There are those who have the beam in the eye, but do not consider it. They justify their enormities by pleading that "others do worse."

3. He is no enemy to sin who does not hate it in himself.

4. Let reproof begin at home.

5. Let the severity of our reproving be restrained by consideration of our own frailty. - J.A.M.







The mote that is in thy brother's eye.
I. That sin may exist in man to an enormous extent, and YET HE BE UNCONSCIOUS OF IT — "the beam." Several things tend to produce this unconsciousness.

1. Habit.

2. Association.

3. Satanic agency.

II. That however unconscious of our own sins, WE MAY BE ALIVE TO THE SINS OF OTHERS.

1. Sin does not destroy the faculty for discerning moral distinctions.

2. The importance of Christians being circumspect in their conduct.

III. That SELF-IMPROVEMENT IS A NECESSITY QUALIFICATION for the improvement of others.

(Dr. David Thomas.)

At Wragby, in Yorkshire, in the vestry of the church is a very curious old painted window, representing in coloured glass the subject of my text; a man with a huge piece of wood before his eyes is trying diligently to extract a mere speck from the eye of another man. And this picture is most appropriately placed in the vestry, as it reminds the priest, whose ministry it is to declare to the people their faults and sins, that he should closely examine himself, lest, after he has preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away.

(Baring Gould, M. A.)

I have got a piece of plate, probably two hundred years old, for the table at meal time. On the silver is embossed a representation of the mote and the beam; a man with a spiked log sticking into his eye is trying hard to pick a tiny grain out of the eye of another. Perhaps you may think it most inappropriate to have such a group and subject on a piece of plate before one's eyes commonly. But I do not think so. It is when families meet, or guests assemble round the board, that the characters of neighbours are most freely talked over.

(Baring Gould, M. A.)

It is only when we have wrestled with and overcome our own besetting sins, that we have the insight and tact to direct others how to overcome theirs. Massillon, the great French preacher, was once asked where he obtained his profound knowledge of the world and of the human passions, and his skill in solving religious difficulties. "From my own heart," he replied. In his endeavours after personal holiness he had met and vanquished, one by one, those bosom sins which trouble men. Their false excuses, their specious pretences, their conflicts with temptation, their weak submission to vices which they have vowed to forsake, their remorse, their fears — he knew them all from experience, and he described them as one who knew. Hence the convicting pungency of his preaching, by which the careless courtiers of Versailles were impressed, and to which Louis XIV. himself bore witness. At the close of a sermon the king said to him, "I have heard several great orators, and been very much pleased with them; but every time I have heard you I have been very much displeased with myself." The ability to minister to others is acquired through faithful self-treatment.

Before thou reprehend another, take heed that thou art not culpable in what thou goest about to reprehend. He that cleanses a blot with blurred fingers will make a greater blot. E yen the candle-snuffers of the sanctuary were of pure gold.

(Quarles.)Nowadays men take upon themselves to reprove others for committing such things as themselves do practise without amendment. Therefore these are like some tailors, who are busy in decking and tricking up others, but go both bare and beggarly themselves.

(Henry Smith.)If my carriage be unblamable, my counsel and reproof will be the more acceptable. Wholesome meat often is distasteful, coming out of nasty hands. A bad liver cannot be a good counsellor or bold reprover; such a man must speak softly for fear of awaking his own guilty conscience. If the bell be cracked, the sound must needs be jarring.

(Swinnock.)The vicious reproving vice, is the raven chiding blackness.

(Eliza Cook.)

Easy and ordinary is it for men to be others' physicians, rather than their own. They can weed others' gardens, whiles their own is overrun with nettles. But charity begins at home; and he that loves not his own soul, I will hardly trust him with mine. The usurer blames his son's pride, sees not his own extortion; and whiles the hypocrite is helping the dissolute out of the mire, he sticks in deeper himself. No marvel if, when we fix both our eyes on others' wants, we lack a third to see our own. If two blind men rush one upon another in the way, either complains of other's blindness, neither of his own. Thus, like mannerly guests, when a good morsel is carved us, we lay it liberally on another's trencher, and fast ourselves. How much better were it for us to feed on our own portion!

(Adams.)

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