Posts Tagged ‘judge not’

What you give to others,  is what you will get from God

 We are looking again at our relationships with each other and how to be a healthy community. Today we look at the topic of judging. Our text is Luke 6:37-38 – “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

“Don’t judge me!”

 . . . is a phrase you hear all the time these days. It means, “don’t tell me what I am doing is wrong;” “don’t put your values on me.” In our culture it is live and let live. Everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes. As long as you aren’t hurting others, its OK. And this has come into the church as well as we privatize our lives so that we think that what we do is not anyone else’s business.

Needless to say this isn’t what Jesus meant when he said “Do not judge.” We know this because:

  • Jesus pointed out sin in people’s lives all the time and he called them to change. For instance in Luke 16:14-15 – “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.’” Jesus was never afraid to point out sin
  • Also, Jesus taught that in the church we are to hold each other accountable for our behavior – Matthew 18:15-17. This is what we call church discipline. This involves pointing out sin in other’s lives and calling them to repent. Paul even calls this process “judging” in             I Corinthians 5:12-13.

So clearly pointing out sin and calling people to repent is not what Jesus is forbidding.

What then does Jesus mean??

There are three clues from our text:

Clue #1: “Judge not” is linked to the phrase – “and you will not be judged.” This last phrase is a reference to the final judgment. So “judge not” is connected to the final judgment, which links it with things like: the end of mercy; a final verdict; and punishment for sins.

Clue #2: “Judge not” equals “condemn not.” They are in synonymous parallelism with each other. This means that they say the same thing in slightly different ways. To condemn means to pronounce a person guilty and enact punishment on the person.

Clue #3: “Judge not” means the opposite of “forgive” and “give” (mercy). They are in antithetical parallelism with each other. So to judge is to withhold mercy or forgiveness.

So when we see someone struggling with sin, Jesus forbids that we: condemn, seek to punish them, write them off (give a final verdict on them so that we don’t need to worry about them anymore), withhold mercy, or withhold forgiveness even if they repent. Rather, in mercy we seek to help them out of their sin and then forgive and restore.

  • We are to act redemptively, not punitively
  • We are to help them up, not put them down
  • We are to always leave open the possibility that they might change, not close the door of mercy on them

Examples of these different approaches 

These help us see the contrasts between these responses to sin in people’s lives:

The tax collectors and prostitutes: The scribes and the Pharisees pointed out their sin but only to condemn them; only to write them off as beyond mercy. Jesus pointed out their sin but showed concern and love for them. He went to them and sought to help them out of their sin.

The adulterous woman – John 8: Her accusers pointed out her sin and only sought to punish her; to stone her to death. But Jesus had mercy on her. He called her to stop sinning. He took a redemptive approach.

The Gentiles – Romans 2: Many Jews had judged the Gentiles as hopelessly evil and wrote them off. They simply avoided them. Paul loved and worked with the Gentiles. He reminds these Jews that it is “the riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience” that leads people to repentance (2:4), not hard hearted condemnation.

What about in our day? How do you respond to those who struggle with drug abuse, giving in to homosexual desires, or those who have a  history of being a sex offender? Do you seek to condemn, punish, write them off, put down, ridicule? Or in mercy do you seek to act in redemptive ways to help them with their problem?

Why this kind of judging is forbidden

1) Because this is not the final day. 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes.” Now is the day of grace – 2 Corinthians 6:2 – not judgment. As James says God is “able to save” sinners – 4:12.

Even notorious sinners can repent. Paul said, “I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost sinner Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life” – I Timothy 1:16. God is busy extending mercy to sinners, and so should we. Final judgment must await the appointed time when Jesus returns. Even with church discipline, this is not a final verdict. We hope and pray for their repentance.

2) Because we are not qualified to make such judgments. It is God who judges. James says, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” – 4:12. And only God is able to judge. Paul says, “God will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart” I Corinthians 4:5.

3) Because we are ourselves only forgiven sinners. How can we, who escaped God’s condemnation only by God’s mercy, turn around and withhold mercy from someone else and condemn them? We have no ground to stand on.

Scripture talks about this a lot: Romans 2:1 – “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” John 8:7 – “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Matthew 18:32-33 – in the parable of the unforgiving servant the master says, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”

Finally, a warning and a promise

Jesus said in Luke 6:38 –  “the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” In the parallel in Matthew 7:2 he said, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” This teaches us that how we treat others now is how God will treat us on the final day. This principle can work against us or for us.

The warning: If we judge and condemn when we see sin in someone’s life; if we are harsh with others, if we reject others as rejected by God, if we exclude others from the realm of whom we love – God will do the same to us. The same measure will be applied to us.

But the promise is this – if we act in merciful ways toward the one struggling with sin, God will be merciful to us and in great abundance. Jesus says – “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap” – Luke 6:38

It can go either way. Its up to you! So let’s choose to be merciful, so that we will receive mercy from our heavenly Father.

William Higgins

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