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BE AWARE OF YOUR MEASURE

Luke 6:37-6:42
Key Verse: 6:38c

Thank God for Jesus’ commands, “Love your enemies” and “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” May we live in this world as God’s children with these words in our hearts. In today’s passage Jesus continually teaches important Christians ethics.

First, the measure you use (37-38). Look at verse 37. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” We know that Luke selected certain teachings among many in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We understand the significance of the command, “Love your enemies.” Undoubtedly this is the highest of human ethics. But why is the command, “Do not judge” important? First of all, God is the Judge. Abraham knew this and he pleaded with the LORD when the LORD was going to destroy Sodom, saying, “…to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Ge 18:25). And for the community of Israelites God told Moses to appoint judges to judge the people fairly (Dt 16:18). In our society also there are judges and they are needed to keep order in the society. Nonetheless, no one wants to stand before the judge and be judged. Eventually we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Judgment solely belongs to God. Human beings are not to judge one another, but only to love one another and be merciful to others. So Jesus said, “Be merciful just as your father is merciful.” No one is to judge others, because all fall short of the glory of God. Again, judgment wholly belongs to God.

Luke wrote here, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged”, while Matthew wrote, “Do not judge, or you will be judged” (Mt 7:1). The nuance of Luke’ writing is that if you do not want to be judged, don’t judge. This is like an advice, while Matthew’s is a warning. Yet, we should think over the command, “Do not judge.” It does not mean that we should not make any judgment. For example, when Jesus healed an invalid man on the Sabbath, the Jews judged that Jesus was not keeping the law of Moses and tried to kill him. Then Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearance, and make a right judgment” (Jn 7:24). We need a right judgment so that we can know how to live in the world, especially in this time of confusion and falsity. We really need discernment to see people and events.

And “do not judge” does not mean, “Don’t say anything that hurts others’ feeling.” Rather Paul said in Ephesians 4:15, “…speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” For example, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well, who had gone through five husbands and had a boyfriend at that time. At first, Jesus helped her open her heart by saying, “Will you give me a drink?” and talking about the gift of God. But after showing his grace to her, Jesus helped her with the truth, saying, “Go, call your husband and come back.” (Jn 4:7,10,16). Jesus touched the sore part in her life. To truly help her, Jesus spoke the truth in love so that she might be restored in life to God.

When Jesus said, “Do not judge,” we believe that he meant not to have judgmental attitude. Judgmental spirit comes from self-righteous and condescending heart and haughty eyes. God deals with such heart and eyes strictly. Psalm 101:5 says, “Whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.” Those who judge others will be judged by God and men. When we read the gospel story, we see that the Pharisees were so judgmental. When Jesus and his disciples were eating at Levi’s house, the Pharisees complained to the disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” (Lk 5:30). They judged according to their own criteria. They judged all those who did not fit their way of living, judging even John the Baptist and Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners”’” (Lk 7:33-34). Later they became the object of Jesus’ woes (Mt 23; Lk 11:37-52).

Again, when Jesus said, “Do not judge”, Jesus was dealing with judgmental spirit. Judging and criticizing destroys both parties. Then how can we not judge other? One characteristic of Pharisees was their unrepentance. Likewise, those who judge others have no personal life and no repentance before God and so remain unrepentant. Our repentant life can be a prevention from judging others. The promise is, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.”

Jesus continued, “Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.” Judgmental spirit is related to condemning spirit. Condemning others is a terrible sin. The devil, or Satan, is an accuser, who accuses and condemns God’s people before God day and night (Zec 3:1; Rev 12:10). Yet God is not willing to condemn. John 3:17 says, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus promises that those who do not condemn will not be condemned.

After two negative commands, Jesus gives a positive command, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” God forgives. He is a forgiving God. The forgiving heart is the opposite of the judging and condemning heart. The forgiving heart is a merciful heart. As for God, forgiving was very costly. The cost was sacrificing his one and only Son. In the grace of God’s forgiveness we can forgive. Forgiven sinners can be forgiving sinners. A forgiving spirit is evidence that the person has been forgiven. When we know that we are forgiven sinners, we can forgive. As for us, forgiving involves denying and humbling ourselves and bearing pains. When Jesus said, “Forgive and you will be forgiven,” it does not mean that God’s grace of forgiveness is conditional. It means that Jesus wants us to live in the grace of forgiveness continually by forgiving others. We are to forgive and we need to be forgiven. Christian community is the community of forgiving and being forgiven. Mutual forgiveness is beautiful in a family and a church. Also, through Christians’ influence, mutual forgiveness is to be practiced in society, instead of suing and being sued. Jesus said in Luke 17:2b-4, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Then the apostles (the disciples) said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” This shows that when our human nature fails to forgive, we should come to God and pray, asking for a merciful heart and forgiving spirit.

In Luke’s gospel Jesus goes further, after saying, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Then he says, “Give and it will be given to you.” What a positive command! In truth, God’s forgiving heart was his giving heart. When he gave his one and only Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, he gave everything for us. So Paul said in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Again, the forgiving and giving heart is God’s heart. God wants his people to learn his heart. Paul said in Acts 20:35, “…the Lord himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Here Jesus promised, “Give and it will be given to you.”

Then Jesus continued, “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” Your 'lap' is really your ‘bosom’ (kolpon) and refers to a fold in the outer garment made as it hung over the girdle in the ancient time. It was used as a kind of pocket. The metaphor is from measuring out grain in such a way as to ensure that the full volume is given. Jesus concludes this section with a reminder that there is reciprocity in the affairs of life: “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” We get back what we put into life.

This can be a universal principle in life. As we studied: “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you.” There are many other descriptions for this. Psalm 18:26 says, “To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.” Proverbs 11:24 says, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty", and 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Lk 20:25; Mt 22:21; Mk 12:17). When we give to God, he gives back immeasurably. God said in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” And 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” This is God’s way of working in his created world. When Jesus said, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” Jesus set a universal truth applicable to all people. May God help us to use the measure, which is not to judge and condemn, but to forgive and give.

Second, the blind leading the blind (39-40). Look at verse 39. “He also told them this parable: ‘Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?’” This is a rhetorical question and self-evident truth. A blind man leading a blind man, ending in both falling into a pit is a sad story. To Jesus’ eyes, this is indeed happening, although beyond the physical realm. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the law severely, saying, “Woe to you, blind guides…You blind fools…You blind men…You blind guides” (Mt 23:16-24). In their blindness, they could not make a right judgment. In their wrong judgment, they were judgmental and condemning, and misled others. Those who do not know Jesus are all spiritually blind, for Jesus is the light of the world (Jn 1:4; 8:12). The spiritually blind cannot see the kingdom of God beyond this world. The blind leading the blind is a sad spiritual reality of the world. We should know that the moment we lose Jesus in our hearts, we lose our spiritual eyesight. So there is a hymn song, “Be Thou My Vision.” We need Jesus to have spiritual sight, make right judgments, and lead others to the right paths of life.

Look at verse 40. “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” According to Luke’s description, verses 39 and 40 together constitute a single parable. Why did Jesus suddenly talk about a student after talking about a blind man? Surely, Jesus had his disciples, especially the Twelve, his students, in mind. Jesus was raising them as new spiritual leaders like new wineskins. Jesus wanted them to be fully trained so that they might grow up to have the full image of Jesus and be like him. Jesus wanted them to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world so that through them the people of the world might be able to discern right from wrong and make a right judgment and walk in the paths of life in this world. May God help us to be good students of Jesus, who are willing to be trained fully in his love and compassion, his obedience and humility, and his courage and braveness.

Third, the speck and the plank (41-42). Look at verses 41-42. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove speck from your brother’s eye.” Here Jesus does not say, “Don’t remove the speck of sawdust from your brother’s eye.” Rather, Jesus points out the failing to see the plank in one’s own eye. And if one with such an eye tries to take the speck out of his brother’s eye, it will certainly damage his brother’s eye, causing him even the loss of whatever eyesight he had. In this interesting story, Jesus stresses the danger of failing to see and the importance of seeing clearly. How dangerous it is to become judgmental with blurry eyes and thoughts! But with clear eyesight and thoughts we can make a right judgment and truly help others. Jesus is exhorting us to rigid self-examination before we engage in judgment. Most people are very lenient (or tolerant) toward their sins and mistakes, but very strict toward others’. But God wants us to be vice versa.

Thank God for our Lord Jesus’ wonderful teaching: “Do not judge…do not condemn…forgive…give…with the measure you use it will be measure to you.” As his disciples, may we be fully trained to grow up to be like him, whose measure is full of truth and mercy.

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