Lesson 12: Matthew 7

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Jesus Christ continued His Sermon on the Mount by teaching His disciples to judge righteously. He also taught about receiving personal revelation and doing Heavenly Father’s will.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 7:1–5

As part of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ teaches His disciples about judging righteously

Before class begins, write the following question on the board: Should we or should we not judge others? As class begins, invite students to respond to the question.

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount, by Carl Heinrich Bloch. Courtesy of the National History Museum at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark. Do not copy.

Display the picture The Sermon on the Mount (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 39; see also LDS.org). Explain that as Jesus continued His Sermon on the Mount, He taught His disciples about judging.

Invite a student to read Matthew 7:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior taught about judging. Point out that verse 1 is often misunderstood to mean that we should never judge. Ask a student to read Matthew 7:1, footnote a.

  • What did the Savior teach about judging?

  • What do you think it means to judge righteously?

Invite a student to read Matthew 7:2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what will happen to us based on the way we judge others. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What will happen if we judge others righteously? (After students respond, help them identify the following principle: If we judge others righteously, God will extend the same mercy and fairness to us.)

handout iconIf possible, distribute copies of the following statement from True to the Faith to each student. Invite a student to read it aloud. Ask half of the class to follow along, looking for the types of judgment we should and should not make. Ask the other half of the class to look for how we can judge righteously.

“Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life. …

“Judgment is an important use of your agency and requires great care, especially when you make judgments about other people. All your judgments must be guided by righteous standards. Remember that only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals (see Revelation 20:12; 3 Nephi 27:14; D&C 137:9). …

“… As much as you can, judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, refrain from making judgments until you have an adequate knowledge of the facts. Always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide your decisions” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 90–91).

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  • What types of judgments should we make?

  • How can we judge righteously?

Display a small sliver of wood and a long, thick piece of wood. Explain that as the Savior taught His disciples about judging, He referred to a small sliver of wood as a mote and a large piece of wood as a beam. Invite a student to read Matthew 7:3 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Savior taught about judging others.

  • What might the mote and beam represent in the Savior’s analogy?

  • How would you restate the Savior’s teaching in verse 3?

Invite two students to come to the front of the class. Instruct one student to hold the beam over his or her eyes. Ask the second student:

  • Would you like your classmate with the beam to remove a speck of wood from your eye? Why not?

Ask the student with the beam:

  • What would you need to do to see clearly enough to remove the speck of wood from your classmate’s eye?

Invite the student with the beam to read the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“This business of beams and motes seems to be closely related to our inability to see ourselves clearly. I’m not sure why we are able to diagnose and recommend remedies for other people’s ills so well, while we often have difficulty seeing our own” (“Lord, Is It I?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 56).

Invite the two students to be seated. Ask a student to read Matthew 7:4–5 aloud, and invite the class to look for whose faults the Savior said we should worry about.

  • Should our concern and correction be focused on others’ faults or on our own? Why?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses that can help us avoid judging others unrighteously? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we focus on removing our own sins and weaknesses, then we will be less likely to judge others unrighteously.)

  • How can this principle help us when we see a flaw in someone else?

You could give students a small piece of wood to keep to remind them of this principle. Invite students to ponder the sins or weaknesses they could remove from their own lives. Encourage them to ask the Lord for help to remove their own flaws instead of judging others unrighteously.

Matthew 7:6–14

The Savior teaches about seeking personal revelation

Summarize Matthew 7:6 by explaining that the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse helps us understand that Jesus Christ called His disciples to go into the world to preach. They were to teach repentance but keep the mysteries of the kingdom to themselves. In other words, they were not to discuss sacred subjects with people who were not ready to receive them. (See Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:9–11 [in the Bible appendix].)

Explain that according to the Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:7 (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:12 [in the Bible appendix]) begins with the phrase “Say unto them, Ask of God.” Invite a student to read verse 7, aloud beginning with this phrase. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior told His disciples to teach.

  • What were the disciples told to say to people who wanted to receive knowledge from God?

  • What principle can we learn from verse 7 about how we can come to understand sacred knowledge from God? (After students respond, help them identify the following principle: As we ask, seek, and knock in our search for truth, Heavenly Father will answer and bless us with personal revelation.)

  • What do the words ask, seek, and knock indicate we must do to receive personal revelation?

Invite a few students to share a time when their asking, seeking, and knocking invited personal revelation.

Summarize Matthew 7:9–11 by explaining that the Savior taught that just as a loving father would not give a stone or a snake when his son asks for bread or fish, Heavenly Father will not deny the gift of personal revelation to His children who ask for it.

Encourage students to exercise faith by asking, seeking, and knocking to invite personal revelation and understanding of the gospel. Testify that as they do this in faith and patience, Heavenly Father will answer.

Invite a student to read Matthew 7:12–14 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for additional truths the Savior told His disciples to teach. Invite students to report what they find.

Matthew 7:15–27

The Savior promises salvation to those who do the Father’s will

Ask students to list on the board some ideas that are commonly accepted by the world but that are contrary to Heavenly Father’s plan.

  • Why is it important to be able to discern if an individual or a group is promoting an idea that is contrary to Heavenly Father’s plan?

Invite a student to read Matthew 7:15 aloud. Then ask:

  • What did the Lord warn the disciples of? How did He say these false prophets might be disguised?

Elder M. Russell Ballard

Explain that Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum on the Twelve Apostles warned of false prophets in our day that include “both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church” as well as “those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce” (“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 63).

Invite a student to read Matthew 7:16–20 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for one way we can discern whether someone is a false prophet or false teacher.

  • What is one way we can discern whether someone is a false prophet or false teacher? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: We can discern false prophets by their fruits.)

Show students two types of fruit. Ask students which kinds of plants produce each fruit. Explain that similar to identifying plants by their fruits, we can identify false prophets and false teachers by their teachings, actions, and ideas.

  • Based on this truth, how can we recognize individuals and groups we should beware of?

  • How does the list of ideas on the board relate to this truth?

Summarize Matthew 7:21–23 by explaining that not everyone who declares belief in Jesus Christ will enter His kingdom, but those who do the will of Heavenly Father and come to know Him will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Display a rock and a tray of sand. Ask students whether they would prefer to build their home on rock or on sand. Invite them to explain why.

Ask a student to read Matthew 7:24–27 aloud.

  • According to verse 24, what actions did the Savior say would make someone like a wise man who built on rock?

  • According to verse 26, what actions did the Savior say would make someone like a foolish man who built on sand?

  • What do you think the rain, floods, and wind represent in these analogies (see verse 27; see also Helaman 5:12)?

  • What principles about acting on the Lord’s teachings can we learn from these analogies? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principles: If we hear and act on the Lord’s teachings, then He will strengthen us to endure our trials. If we hear the Lord’s teachings but do not follow them, then we will not have the support we need when trials come.)

Invite students to consider what the Lord taught in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5–7). Invite them to be like the wise man by deciding to act on the principles the Savior taught. You may want to give students time to write how they will apply one or more of the principles from this lesson or the previous three lessons.

Commentary and Background Information

Matthew 7:1–2. Making righteous judgments

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the principles that help us make righteous judgments rather than final judgments:

“There are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles. …

“… Why did the Savior command that we not judge final judgments? I believe this commandment was given because we presume to make final judgments whenever we proclaim that any particular person is going to hell (or to heaven) for a particular act or as of a particular time. …

“We all make judgments in choosing our friends, in choosing how we will spend our time and our money, and, of course, in choosing an eternal companion. Some of these intermediate judgments are surely among those the Savior referenced when He taught that ‘the weightier matters of the law’ include judgment (Matt. 23:23). …

“In the intermediate judgments we must make, we should take care to judge righteously. We should seek the guidance of the Spirit in our decisions. We should limit our judgments to our own stewardships. Whenever possible we should refrain from judging people until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. So far as possible, we should judge circumstances rather than people. In all our judgments we should apply righteous standards. And, in all of this we must remember the command to forgive” (“‘Judge Not’ and Judging,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 7, 9, 13).

Matthew 7:15–20. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:

“When we think of false prophets and false teachers, we tend to think of those who espouse an obviously false doctrine or presume to have authority to teach the true gospel of Christ according to their own interpretation. We often assume that such individuals are associated with small radical groups on the fringes of society. However, I reiterate: there are false prophets and false teachers who have or at least claim to have membership in the Church. There are those who, without authority, claim Church endorsement to their products and practices. Beware of such. …

“… Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce” (“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 62–63).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

video iconMatthew 7:1–2. Video presentation—“Looking through Windows”

To help students understand the importance of focusing on our own weaknesses before criticizing the weaknesses of others, you may want to show the video “Looking through Windows” (2:19). This video is available on LDS.org. Invite students to watch for how the story in the video relates to the following principle: If we focus on removing our own sins and weaknesses, then we will be less likely to judge others unrighteously. After they watch the video, ask them to report what they found.

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