Luke 6:37 Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)
Of all the sayings of Jesus, I find this one to be among the hardest to put into practice. Whenever people upset me, whether it be family, friends, or acquaintances, I find it difficult to initially forgive them. I think unkind thoughts and harbor some resentment. I want them to be punished for upsetting me or at least put through something similar. I dwell on the hurt and ponder another saying, definitely not from Christ, ‘don’t get mad, get even.’ Even though I am a pastor with over thirty years’ experience, I’m a human being first and foremost, with all of the accompanying common weaknesses, faults, and sins.
Because I’m so human, it makes me wonder why Jesus said this in the first place. If He knew it was very difficult and almost impossible to practice, why set up His followers to fail? If we are all guilty of judging, condemning, and not forgiving others, does this mean that we have no hope of being saved? Did Jesus expect us to live holy and perfect lives in order to be accepted and embraced by God?
The more I read this passage, the better I understand my need for being honest with myself, as well as the absolute necessity of requiring God’s grace. If I arrogantly think that I am perfect, do no wrong, and have no need of forgiveness, then I am dangerously deluding myself and placing my soul in perdition. However, if I humbly acknowledge that I am as guilty as sin and often fail to practice what Christ preaches, then I am confessing my faults and placing my soul in His hands. Just like most of us, I would rather seek God’s mercy and grace than rely on my own misunderstanding and graceless ways.
Point to ponder
Have I recently judged, condemned, or not forgiven someone else? Have I confessed my failure to Christ? What does He expect me to do now?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You never said that faith would be easy or that we could live according to our own standards as Christians. As Your people, You challenge and confront us constantly because we carry Your Name wherever we go and whatever we do. Help us to become channels of Your mercy and conduits of Your grace. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the church website at www.erinpresbyterian.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Pentecost drawings called ‘Fiesta.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Fiesta.