These verses have always intrigued me, and, without going into detail, I've had to refer to them quite a bit lately. They have to do with human relationships and interaction...issues we all have to deal with every day. First, here's an excerpt from the intro to The Gospels In The Now which is pertinent to this:
The Bible is a miracle – not a book, but a collection of 66 books written by 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years in different languages to different people groups in different generations for different purposes. Therefore, the Scriptures must be rightly divided instead of wrongly connected. In other words, each book must be judged in its own context and on its own terms, whether it confirms any other book or not. In this way, biblical contradictions are not only acknowledged and accepted...they are expected. I celebrate the tension caused by the conflicting viewpoints of the writers who had different paradigms of God; their contradictions make the Bible literally pulsate with life! And amazingly, in spite of the given contention, the confirmation of Jesus, the Christ, is still the glue that holds the whole collection together!
Here Jesus tells His disciples to approach their relationships with the wisdom (mindset) of a snake (the symbol of satan), while maintaining the peaceful temperament of the dove (the symbol of the Holy Spirit)...
I say all of this to you because you need to know that I’m really sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves. And to be able to survive this hazardous work, you’re going to have to develop the flexibility to be wary and wise as serpents when necessary, and to still be innocent and guileless as doves. I realize that no two animals are less similar in temperament than a snake and a dove, so I’m really asking you to do the impossible.
(Matthew 10:16 - Matthew In The Now)
No doubt, these two passages are talking about two different things, but at first glance it appears that Jesus is telling us not to judge anyone/anything, while Paul is saying to judge everyone/everything!
But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
(1 Corinthians 2:15 - NKJV)
But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him].
(1 Corinthians 2:15 - Amplified Bible)
But Jesus says...
“Don’t set yourself up as a judge who takes the liberty of casually condemning others, or even as a critic who thinks that he or she has the right to criticize them, because when you do that, you set a universal law into motion that will inevitably bring negative things back into your own life. In other words, don’t judge so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For in direct proportion to your judgment, criticism and condemnation of others, you will be personally judged and criticized and condemned. It’s just the way the law works. And in accordance with the measure you use to deal out to others…whatever you may deal out…it will be dealt out again to you. You define the terms of your own life in this sense. (Matthew 7:1, 2 - Matthew In The Now)
THINK LIKE A CHILD/DON'T THINK LIKE A CHILD
And what about this?
Then the disciples came up and asked Jesus, “Who, in your estimation, is really the greatest in the Kingdom of/from the heavens?” But instead of directly answering their question, He first called a little child over to Himself, and placed him in the center of the room, and once they had focused on the child, He said to them, “Boys, I really and truly want you to get this…unless you change the way you think about things…until your mind is cleansed from your cynicism and competitiveness with one another…until you have a paradigm shift that moves you from the silliness of being ‘childish’, so that you can enter the freedom of becoming ‘child-like’…and until you grasp the difference between these two concepts…you’re never going to be subjects in My Kingdom at all! Whoever will remove the mental clutter of adulthood, so that he or she can re-connect with what is the best part of childhood…the simple, basic ideas of trust…humility…love…forgiveness…imagination…that person will rank very high in the Kingdom of/from the heavens.
(Matthew 18:1-4 - Matthew In The Now)
But Paul says...
Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. (1 Corinthians 14:20 - TNIV)
Again, I realize these Scriptures are referring to different situations, which is my point about "rightly dividing" as opposed to "wrongly connecting" passages. But the spirit of the letter is pervasive throughout all holy writ, and when it comes to human relationships, we find certain challenges in locating applicable Scriptures by which to live. We all want to walk in love, but we don't want to be taken advantage of. We want to believe for the best in people, without being naive to the darker side of human nature. We attempt to "know no man after the flesh", but it generally takes some real effort to look beyond the obvious humanity of someone and really see the divinity in him or her, especially when that person has used us or lied to us.
I guess I'm just thinking out loud about these things...here's one more verse I find very interesting...
But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men]; And He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man [needed no evidence from anyone about men], for He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men's hearts.]
(John 2:24, 25 - Amplified Bible)
Relationships...it's a journey...