Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 6:37
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” – Luke 6:37
This is an important idea that many find difficult to apply, not because it is hard to understand but because it is not something we think we need to deal with. In order to see what Jesus is saying here, we need to see what He is actually speaking against. Matthew puts this same teaching in a clearer way. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2. Notice the wording here, ‘in the way you judge’. He is not saying we are not to judge, for John records the following words of Christ. “Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:21-24. In essence, Jesus was saying follow the law, but understand that mercy and love subordinates some other parts.
So, how does what John said relate to our focus verse? If we judge only by what we see, we often are missing the truth behind what is taking place, and this can lead to a false understanding. For instance, back in the 1960’s and 70’s, a famous Christian rock singer named Larry Norman would often go into the streets and spend time conversing to those who were deemed the dregs of society, namely prostitutes and drug dealers. Many would see him and determine he was seeking their services, when in actuality He was witnessing to those that many would have nothing to do with. They were, in essence, condemning him for doing the work of God by introducing Jesus to people no one else would take the time to even acknowledge. They were making a rash judgement believing he was sinning when in reality he was introducing them to Christ and the truth of the gospel.
Now, there is another idea expressed here that is just as important to understand. We see this farther down in Luke 6. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42. This deals with hypocritical judgement. How can we judge someone for excessive drinking when we ourselves get drunk? And how can we condemn someone who tells dirty jokes when we tell them ourselves? If we judge someone for sins that we ourselves do, how will they take us seriously? How can we help them to give up any wrong doing when we continue in the same actions?
We, as Christians, need to apply wisdom when we look upon the actions of another. In the first instance above, we do not know the hearts and motives of another. We need to be careful that we do not judge what appears to be problematic or downright wrong when actually they are doing the right thing as God called them but not necessarily in a way we would do it. As in the Larry Norman example, he reached out to those no one else would reach out to, giving them the opportunity to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. And in the second instance, we need to address any sin in our own life before we judge another for the same sin. If we do not stop the sin ourselves, how can we clearly help another to stop? And if they know we continue doing the same thing, why would they stop when we address it with them? Be wise in all judgements, and God will be pleased.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.