In our culture, full of sound-bites, 24-hour cable news and social media that allows us to spew opinions about other people, it is a natural inclination to play judge and jury to others. But according to Jesus, there is a truly destructive result in assuming that role. There is both a boomerang effect and personal effect. The good news, according to the gospel of Luke, is that we do not have to live out of our natural inclinations of being judge and jury. We can choose to follow Christ and be transformed by His love to see/act differently.
Jesus will empower you to “do to others as you would have them do to you,” (v.31) and “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (v.36). Look at two ways Jesus’ love moves us to live differently — that is if we choose to follow/respond to the true Jesus, instead of a “lesser than” version.
The Boomerang Effect (vv. 37-38)
Jesus calls those who will follow Him to avoid two things: being judgmental and condemning others. He then teaches His followers to embrace two things as a way of life: being forgiving and generous. The terms “judge”, “condemn”, “forgive” and “give” create the framework for what it looks like to live a life inspired by the love of Christ.
Jesus first states what to avoid: “do not judge,” “do not condemn” (v. 37a). The words judge and condemn are used as synonyms. To be judgmental about someone essentially means to condemn them and to pass judgement on their hearts and motives. It is used in the New Testament to depict someone who criticizes and tears down others in order to feel/look better by comparison. This is not a great formula for healthy relationships or a joyful life. Living inspired by the love of Christ will empower you to resist the natural inclination to play judge and jury.
Jesus then points to what His love will cause you to be instead of judgmental and condemning: forgiving and generous. Jesus says “forgive, and you will be forgiven” (v. 37b). To forgive means to offer someone relief, release or pardon. It pictures releasing someone from prison. Forgiveness frees people shackled by guilt and failure. It also frees you to experience the forgiveness God offers you daily. Jesus says “give, and it will be given to you” (v.38). The word “give” is the 9th most used word in the New Testament. To be generous with your treasure (your money) and time is called for no less than 416 times. Happy, joyful people who are selfish are difficult to find — they do not exist. A follower, truly inspired by the love of Christ, will develop a generous heart that gives for the good of others. In turn, this person will experience the generosity of God in his/her life (v. 38b). The fact that God is generous is referred to 104 times in the New Testament. You can’t out give God.
The Personal Effect (vv. 41-42)
Jesus then tells a story to illustrate the contrast of being judgmental and condemning vs. forgiving and generous. The judgmental heart will look for the minor faults in others’ lives to criticize (“speck of sawdust”) (v. 41a), while ignoring the larger faults of their own (“plank in your own eye”) (v. 41b).
Jesus calls us to first be honest with ourself and with Him, so He can help us face and deal with “the plank” in our own eyes. To constantly critique others while pretending you have no failures yourself is the life of a “hypocrite” (v. 42b). A hypocrite is not someone who has faults (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23). Hypocrisy is having faults but pretending that you don’t. Constantly criticizing others is a diversion from what you need to deal with in your own heart and life. Once you are practicing being honest with yourself and God, then the call is to be transparent in your relationships with others. Take off the mask.
To follow the real Jesus is not abstract. The effects of truly following Him are real and concrete. Jesus teaches that His love, when allowed to direct your life, will transform you over time into a forgiving person; a generous person; an honest person; and a transparent person. Based on those four traits, are you following the actual Jesus or a “lesser than”, more comfortable version of Jesus?
Luke 6:37-38; 41-42
“‘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. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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 the speck from your brother’s eye.’”