Judging Others (Luke 6:37-42)

Judging Others

37 “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

38 Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

39 And he told them a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?

40 No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.

41 Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.

This pericope takes us from judgement, to generosity, to self-examination.  Considering it in parts we’ll look at it a bit at a time.

Verse 37 is pretty unambiguous.  Don’t judge; don’t condemn; forgive and you will be forgiven.  Each of these admonitions puts us on guard against personal sin.  Whether we know it or not, when we judge and when we condemn we are trying to take God’s place.  In so doing we sin ourselves; we commit the sin of pride.  This sin subjects us to judgment.

Curiously enough however, we often resist when we are called upon to behave like God.  That is, when it’s time to be merciful, we find it too difficult to forgive.  But’s it’s when we have the mercy to forgive that we’ve stopped our sins of judgment and condemnation and can be forgiven ourselves.

Verse 38 tells us how our mercy and forgiveness are to be dispensed – generously.  The image we’re given is a measuring cup like for measuring out flour.  If we hand out our mercy and forgiveness in stinginess, with a tiny little measuring cup, then it lacks the generosity of true forgiveness.  If on the other hand we use the largest measure we can find, and even that’s not big enough because we have to pack it down and heap it up, then that’s the kind of generosity of forgiveness that God shares with us.

Finally, verse 39 through 42 tell us that we’re unfit to “council” others on their sins until we “remove” our own sinfulness.  In short, we’re called to self-examination.  It’s kind of the antithesis of judging others.  Self-examination requires humility; the opposite of pride.  When we’re perfected in mercy, generosity, and humility, then we’re capable of fraternal correction in place of judgment and condemnation.

Our prayerful response should be to pray for the grace to know our sins and to pray for the grace to detest our sins.  Naturally, we will also pray for God’s mercy in forgiving our sins and in forgiving the sins of others.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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