In today's passage it mentions that it took Solomon 7 years to build the temple and 13 years to build the palace. I've often wondered if that was a negative comment, or simply a statement of fact.
Rayburn's sermon discusses this and he had some great points I hadn't thought of before. It does seem like there was some excess involved in the building of the palace, but there is no suggestion that the temple was too small or built "cheaply" in any way. In fact, there is gold everywhere in the temple, but not in the palace. The building of the palace is inserted into the middle of the account of the building of the temple which seems to say that the temple is the main thing and the palace is less important. The palace would, by it's very purpose and nature, be a larger complex requiring a variety of buildings and would naturally take longer to build.
Rayburn goes on.....
You spend much more of your time at work, whatever your work may be, than you do at church. Is that wrong? Are you, for that reason, worldly? You spend more of your time at home with your family than you do worshipping God or directly involved in some ministry? Is that wrong? Are you, in that way, demonstrating that you care more about other things than you do for the glory of God?
No; of course not. We would say, and rightly, that to be a faithful worker, to support our families, to build in our homes a happy and holy life for our children is not being worldly. To do such things, in fact, is to glorify God because it amounts to fulfilling his will for our lives and the callings that he has given us as his children. Solomon was not belittling God by serving Israel as her king; he was not showing himself more interested in his work than the worship of God by building a palace complex. He was glorifying God by doing and doing well the work God had given him to do.
This is everywhere the Bible’s perspective: whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all to the glory of God. Solomon was no doubt right to think that he was giving glory to God not only by building for him the most glorious, costly, and beautiful sanctuary in the world but as well by building an impressive complex of government halls, offices, and palaces. Israel was Yahweh’s people and he was Yahweh’s king! The palace should reflect that fact as the temple did. He would not have thought, and we should not think, that if we work at our calling we are subtracting from God’s glory.
He goes on to use the example of marriage. In the NT Paul wishes that all Christians could remain single as he was so to be free to devote themselves entirely to the work of God, but he's knows it's not possible and not the calling of every individual. In other words, when people get married, they cannot be only completely devoted to God - some of that time and energy and commitment now needs to be invested into your spouse. Is this wrong? Far from it! It is precisely what God expects of us, demands of us! It would not be glorifying to God to neglect your spouse in order to work on a church project, and it would not have glorified God for Solomon to devote himself entirely to the temple and ignore his duties as Israel's king. We definitely need to have the church and worship as priorities in our lives, but it is not only in church that we are able to give glory to God. We each serve Him in the areas that He has called us to serve. We are to be people of both the temple and the palace.
Our Matthew passage contains the most widely known verse in the Bible, and one that non-Christians love to pull out and use completely out of context in order to avoid any negative criticism about their lifestyle. "Judge not, lest ye be judged". It's easy to understand why people like their assumptions of what this verse says - nobody can condemn their behaviour without bringing condemnation on themselves.
First, Jesus is not speaking to people whose behaviour is bad and letting them know they don't need to worry about being criticized. He's speaking to His disciples (and us!) and letting them know that they need to be humble in their attitude and speech towards others. We need to live with an awareness of our own sin, and God's grace to us in forgiving that sin, and be likewise generous and merciful when it comes to those around us.
Obviously, we are still to discern between right and wrong. He is not even forbidding us from condemning certain men or behaviour (see v 6 and 15 of this same passage). And we are later instructed to hold our fellow believers accountable with the goal of repentance and reconciliation.
Rayburn sites a quote from John Stott "Do not judge is not a requirement to be blind, but rather a plea to be generous" in our estimation of others and their conduct. Rayburn also adds....
I know of no wiser or more incisive comment or interpretation of Matthew 7:1 than Johann Albrecht Bengel’s four words: sine scientia, amore, necessitate. That is, do not judge another unless you really have all the facts, unless you are motivated by love for him, and unless it is really necessary for you to intervene. Do not judge without knowledge, without love, and without necessity....
The reason we should not judge others in the way Jesus forbids here, without knowledge, without love, and without a need to do so, is because it is not right for Christians to have a censorious spirit when they have been treated with such mercy by God.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 8-9; Matthew 8:1-17