Do you wish we lived in a less judgemental world, a world where enemies aren’t made at the drop of a hat? Every one of us has been a target for judgement during this pandemic. If someone is not criticizing us for being too careful, someone else is criticizing us for not being careful enough! We can’t win. Perhaps we don’t need to.
When a critical spirit seems to be our default is there a better way? There is, and Jesus teaches us that better way. Jesus has two rules for us that are absolutely golden, that help us with our judgemental attitudes. Here is the first one:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Many people know “the Golden Rule,” but they don’t know that it was Jesus who first said it in that positive way. Many know that Jesus first said it that way, but what they don’t know is that Jesus was referring to people who judge us. His teaching on the Golden Rule goes back to:
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.Luke 6:22 (NRSV)
Jesus went on to say what we should do when people judge us and treat us like dirt:
But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.Luke 6:27-31 (NRSV)
As we can see, it is not “do unto your friends as your would have your friends do unto you” which might be easy enough, but “do unto the people who treat you like dirt as you would have them do unto you, that is, not like dirt, but as worthy of love and respect.”
When we love those who treat us like dirt, we reflect the goodness of God:
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35-36 (NRSV)
We know that God is merciful primarily through Jesus. God came to us in Jesus. We judged him and killed him. He loved us anyway. The crucifixion of Jesus on the cross is the prime example of humanity treating God like dirt, and it is also the prime example of God responding to that with love and the offer of forgiveness.
Which brings us to the second Golden rule that helps us deal with judgemental attitudes:
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, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.Luke 6:37-38 (NRSV)
Most Bible teachers see this as making reference to God, that is “do not judge and you will not be judged by God, do not condemn and you will not be condemned by God, forgive and you will be forgiven by God, be generous and God will be generous with you.” While this may be what Jesus had in mind, we want to be careful we do not set limits on the grace of God. That is, we don’t want to think of our judgemental attitudes as being the unforgivable sin. The rest of Scripture will not allow for that. Let’s face it, who of us has not been judgemental during this pandemic?
We could think of it more like a Proverb. Would we like God to treat us with the same critical and judgemental spirit with which we treat one another? Probably not.
If the Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” this second Golden Rule could be stated:
Do unto others as you would have God do unto you.
We would want God to treat us, not with judgement and condemnation, but forgiveness, and generosity. God does precisely that, in Jesus. Jesus told us to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” God is indeed merciful.
Is Jesus only making reference to God here? Here is another way we could read it: “do not judge and you will not be judged by others, do not condemn and you will not be condemned by others, forgive and you will be forgiven by others, be generous and others will be generous with you.” If we are the kind of people who are quick to judge, we should not be surprised if people are quick to judge us. If we are mean with others, we should not be surprised if they are mean with us. If we are gracious, merciful, understanding, forgiving, and generous toward others, people are more likely to be that way toward us. If I am a jerk, I make it easy for you to condemn me for some sin I commit against you. But if you experience me as a gracious, gentle, and loving person, you will naturally find yourself responding to that very same sin with something like, “Clarke must be having a bad day,” or “we all make mistakes.” How we treat others very often comes back to us.
I have heard verse 38 reduced to speaking about tithes and offerings: “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” However, Jesus was not referring to one’s worship through giving to the church here. Rather, Jesus was talking about love for one’s enemies, that far from being stingy in grace and love, we are to be generous, like God! Jesus modelled generosity, not at the temple treasury, but at the cross, when he offered grace to all who would judge him.
Do you wish we lived in a less judgemental world? If you and I trade in our critical spirit for a spirit of love and generosity, that would be a good start. It would be two less judgemental people in the world! Let us do unto others, even those who treat us like dirt, as we would have them do unto us. Let us do unto others, especially those who treat us like dirt, as God has done unto us.