How many times have you been let off the hook so you wouldn’t have to face negative consequences? For followers of Jesus, this is our life. So who are we to withhold mercy from others or highlight their flaws?
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 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.”
39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41 “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? 42 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.
Jesus often reminds us that we should be using the same standards for ourselves as we do for other people. Many of us thrive from being treated with grace, mercy and kindness. I remember one time in primary school getting paint on my uniform and being terrified of what my mum’s reaction would be, convinced that she was going to punish me and refusing to be told otherwise by my teacher. When I got home however, my mum was perfectly unbothered. I was relieved to be off the hook. Despite knowing how good it feels to be treated this way, I know I can forget this feeling when dealing with other people. I can lose my patience and forget how my actions affect others, allowing my feelings to take over instead.
As Jesus says these things in Luke 6, he has not yet been crucified for the sins of the world, but is preparing people to act in response to God’s radical mercy for those who follow him. What sense does it make to condemn others when we ourselves have been freed of all condemnation? Even as Jesus speaks, he reminds us to be aware of our own shortcomings before judging others or even trying to help them. Whenever I read Jesus’ tale about the speck of sawdust and the plank, my mind always pictures the impracticalities of the scene – like bashing somebody in the face with your plank as you get closer to retrieve their speck of sawdust. And I guess that could be a real consequence. Hurting someone we mean to help, all due to a lack of self-awareness.
Reading God’s word however can give us a clear understanding of his expectations for us, and in prayerfulness we can ask God to reveal our shortcomings and grow us. Through these habits, God prepares our hearts to spread the mercy and kindness of Jesus into the lives of others, rather than judgement and condemnation; forgiving as he forgives us.
Head: What are the reasons Jesus gives for acting with forgiveness instead of judgement?
Heart: Is there something in this passage that gives me assurance?
Hands: Is there anyone in your life who you can be more graceful towards? How does this passage help you to approach this?
Prayer: Father God, You are so merciful. Thank you for the grace you’ve shown me by sending Jesus to this world. I’m sorry for the times that in accepting the mercy you give, I have neglected to pass it on and treated others with judgement. I pray that your word will grow my heart and inspire me to live as an example of your grace. In the name of the father, son and holy spirit, Amen.
A song to listen to: Mercy Mercy