Hello and welcome to a new week of STC Foundations podcasts. My name is Dave and I’ll be with you each day this week, bringing a short thought based on our daily scripture. Reading the Bible by ourselves is important, but reading it together as a community is really powerful too. Let’s see what God does in us as individuals and as a Church family as we go through His word this week.
Last week Mick brought five reflections on our personal walk with Jesus from the letter to the Ephesians. This week we’re going back to our journey through the Gospel of Luke which we started just before Christmas, all the way back in 2018. Luke has so far focused on Jesus calling people to follow Him and starting His ministry. He’s started performing signs and miracles but He’s also come up against opposition and even outright rejection. More recently, after a time of prayer on a mountainside, Jesus has called 12 of those following Him to be his closest disciples and has started teaching a crowd of people that have gathered from near and far. They’ve come looking for miracles and wonders, and whilst they get that, they also get more than they bargained for. Jesus starts to spell out what it means to live a Godly live. It is here, just north of the sea of Galilee that we pick up the story. Before we dive in, there are two questions that we’re going to keep coming back to this week. They revolve around the idea that the ideas, the wisdom, the commands that come from Jesus over the next few chapters are unexpected. Jesus is the unexpected King in ways that we’ll start to unpack later. The two questions that we’re going to look at are:
– How does Jesus challenge our expectations?
– What can we be sure of about Jesus?
Jesus is bringing in a new Kingdom, He’s going to do things a new way, but these passages also help us to see the values that exist in the new Kingdom, Jesus doesn’t just leave us with surprises but assurances. At some points this week we’ll address these questions directly, other times I’ll leave it open for us each to ponder.
On with today’s passage. We’re picking up the story in Luke 6:37-49. The whole passage will be at the end of this reflection but for now here is verse 37, followed by 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.”
“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.”
The one line take home from this passage is clear: don’t judge! This is something we’ve most likely heard before but it’s also one of those things that always seems to be relevant. It’s a nasty habit that can easily sneak back into our lives without us noticing. Jesus bringing this message is unexpected for the people listening at the time. The crowd would have been more used to being taught a point by point ‘this is how to be good and we can label those who don’t do this as bad’ kind of message. After all, how do you know who’s in the club unless you can point at those that are definitely out! For this reason, sadly, Jesus’ message of not judging others would be just as surprising a message to many outside the Church today as it was 2000 years ago. Far too many people see Christians as judgemental. This is a hugely personal area for each of us, most judgements are made in the privacy of our own hearts and minds. However it is clearly a hugely public area as well, as somehow as a Church we have become known as precisely the opposite of what Jesus commanded, whether it’s a justified reputation or not.
Judging others is something that is so easy to slip into. Maybe we assume something of someone because of how they dress, how they talk, what their job is, whether they have a job. Maybe we just assume the worst in people out of habit. Social media can draw out and exaggerate these bad habits. In one of the Facebook groups I’m in I recently saw one person judge and publicly condemn another person of being a racist, simply because they didn’t know what date the festival of Diwali was. Social media isn’t evil, it can just shine a light on the places we need God’s breakthrough in our lives. We can be quick to judge and accuse but in this passage Jesus connects how we look at others with how we look at ourselves. When we judge in the way talked about in the passage we condemn, we make the decision to think less of someone. Sometimes we do that do convince ourselves ‘at least I’m better than them’. We compare ourselves to others. We know that this is not what Jesus wants for us. When we make the decision to think less of others we are choosing not to love them as Jesus called us to. Today let’s choose to see clearly, with no plank in our eye, viewing those around us only through the love and forgiveness that God views both them and ourselves
Thank you Lord for this reminder of how to live the Jesus life. Help us not to judge others today. Amen.
READING: Luke 6:37-49
“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.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”