Luke 6:37-45 (ESV)
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 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.” 39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Jesus switched the topic of his teaching from loving to judging. Most see 6:31, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful,” as a hinge verse that transitions the reader from the love section to the judgment section. Many of those with Jesus may have objected to his charge to love even their enemies. They must have wondered, But where does judging wrong behavior fit into all of this? Jesus reminded his audience that the recipients of God’s great mercy are called to extend that same mercy to others. It only makes sense. But are there times when the follower of Jesus needs to correct wrongdoing in others? Absolutely! Jesus never said we aren’t called to judge, but he is concerned with the way we do it. Jesus wanted to make certain that his disciples knew the way they treated others would end up reflected in the way others treated them. If they wanted justice, they would get it! Those who were merciful would receive mercy. Those who were judgmental and condemning would end up judged and condemned, and those who were forgiving and generous would receive the same from others. This passage is not saying that we are not to make any moral evaluations. But it is warning us that we are never to do so with a harsh, unforgiving attitude that expects failure in others. We are not to look at anyone as if she is “too far gone” for God. That is something only God can determine.
Although he lived in a dark world, Jesus maintained a perfect attitude. He didn’t grow cynical or sarcastic. Jesus was never mean, hypercritical, or overly harsh. He hoped for the best in people, and he even felt compassion towards those who failed to respond rightly. In Mark 10:21, when the rich young man walked away from Jesus’ difficult teaching unrepentant, Jesus still “loved him.” Those who follow him should have the same encouraging, optimistic attitude, knowing that God is able to reach down to the darkest depths of humanity and redeem whomever he pleases. Let’s stand up for what’s right, making proper judgments when necessary, but also making sure we aren’t miserable in the process. Jesus kept the right balance. Ask him for help today! We will never be able to communicate the mercy and forgiveness we have received from God if we aren’t willing to extend mercy and forgiveness to anyone else.