Luke 6: 37 – 42 Judging others

Luke 6: 37 – 42 Judging others

‘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.’

He also told them this parable: ‘Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

‘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.

*       *       *

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.”

What does it mean to judge someone? The context of these verses is how we can best do God’s will in the world. Every time we judge someone, we ‘dehumanise’ them in our heart. Here’s a rather trivial example that most people will recognise.

You’re driving gently along a road, within the speed limit, when somebody shoots out of a side street. You have to brake really hard, and you narrowly avoid a collision. How do you think of that driver? Do you call them names?

They roar away, and 200 yards down the road they pull into your workplace. You follow them in, see them rushing to the entrance. You park, and go in. Lo and behold, the person who nearly caused the accident turns out to be your first appointment of the day. Do you feel positive about them? How do you think the meeting will go?

For most of us, that meeting will not go very well, because we will be thinking of the visitor as “That moron who nearly bent my car”. We have judged them on the basis of an instant’s careless driving. We have devalued their individuality. We have given them a label that makes them just a little less human. We have reduced our capacity to love them.

If we knew that the ‘moron’ is a single parent, who has struggled to find someone to take care of a sick child, and who was trying desperately to be on time for the meeting with us, we might have felt differently – but we didn’t know.

We cannot safely judge anybody, because we never know the whole story. Only God knows that.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.”

The judgement that we are called to avoid is judging people in this life; the judgment we escape is in the kingdom of heaven. Similarly with condemnation; if we do not condemn in this world, we will not be condemned in the kingdom of heaven. Likewise, if we forgive, we will be forgiven in the kingdom of heaven.

Why is this?

It’s to do with love.

Judgment and condemnation preclude love. They can also be intensely damaging to others.

The kingdom of heaven is all about love. Firstly, it’s God’s love for us, and then, in response to that, it’s our love for the rest of humanity. And that really does mean the whole of the rest of humanity.

These verses call on us not to judge people. They don’t say that we shouldn’t be clear about right or wrong, but the second half of today’s passage reminds us that we have to be careful to avoid judging people by our own beliefs.

It’s a very well-known story.

‘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.

It’s a ‘larger than life’ scene of two people, one with a plank in his eye, the other with a speck of sawdust in theirs. The one with the plank in his eye is offering to help the other person to remove the speck of dust. Obviously, he’s unlikely to be able to help.

The plank and the speck of dust represent sin. Both characters have sins. Surprise, surprise! We’re none of us perfect!

It’s a great idea to help each other overcome sin, but we can’t do it on the basis of judgment – and before we can do anything at all, we need to be in a loving relationship with the other person.

Because St Luke has juxtaposed the teaching on judgment with this parable, I think that one of the implications of this parable is that the man with a plank represents someone who judges others. Judging others, as we saw, takes away from their humanity.

The kingdom of heaven is all about love. We cannot truly love others when we judge them.

The kingdom of heaven is all about love.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for your love for us. Thank you for the love that Jesus showed, living and dying as one of humanity. Please help me to judge less and love more.

In Jesus name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

One thought on “Luke 6: 37 – 42 Judging others

  1. Good post especially on the highway example _ I live in Houston and the highway “test” arrives in my life often
    I found your site based on the topic above, and am working on a series of studies on the term “judge” in the New Testament
    Thanks for your thoughts, and if you have a moment to visit, I would appreciate your input.
    Thanks

    Like

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