“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:37-38 NKJV).
Matthew’s parallel adds, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (chapter 7:2). This is perhaps one of the most sobering statements of Jesus. Yet we rarely pause to internalize it.
We often take it to mean that if we do not judge others, others will not judge us, but that misses Jesus’ point entirely. It’s not others who will not judge us; it’s not others who will not condemn us or forgive us; rather, it is God. You mean how God will judge me, condemn me, and even forgive me depends on how I treat others? According to Jesus, the answer is yes.
So, how do you want to be judged by God? If we desire God’s mercy, we must show mercy to others. If we do not want Him to condemn us, then we cannot condemn others. If we want Him to forgive us, then we must forgive. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” And, if we want Him to give, we must generously give to others.
Jesus understood that between God and us stands another. In the manner we want God to act and treat us, we must behave to another as we would to ourselves. In fact, for Him, we demonstrate our love of God and obedience to Him by how we love others. “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
How different would our world look if we took this startling statement of Jesus’ to heart? How would we relate differently to our families? In our workplaces? To strangers? Foreigners? Enemies?
If we treated others in the same way that we want God to treat us, what testimony would we demonstrate to a world filled with anger, bitterness, judgment, condemnation, and unforgiveness?
We often water down the impact of Jesus’ words. We need to let them hit us anew—and afresh. How do I want God to judge me? Then I must judge others in the same manner.
We all hope for God to show us mercy, so let us show mercy to others. When we hear Jesus and truly internalize His words, His challenging message rings just as relevant for us today as it did to His listeners 2,000 years ago. Be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful.
Father, forgive us for judging and condemning others without kindness and mercy. God, we need Your mercy; let us therefore show mercy toward others like ourselves. Amen.