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Forgiving instead of judging

October 18, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Luke 6:35-37

35 Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. 36 Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
37 “Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

We often think Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew, chapters 5-7) was a one-time event. If so, it might feel like “Luke got it wrong.” But the Greek of Matthew 5:2 suggests strongly that Jesus didn’t preach that material just once, and then never mention it again. Scholar William Barclay wrote that the Greek verb translated “taught” describes “repeated and habitual action, and the translation should be: ‘This is what he used to teach them.’” * Luke’s version added the key element of  forgiveness.

  • Both Matthew (Matthew 6:12-15) and Luke (cf. Luke 11:1-4) made Jesus’ emphasis on forgiving a key part of the prayer he taught his followers. Many times, forgiving is a vital aspect of the antidote to judging someone else. For Jesus, forgiveness was a fundamental reality of his Kingdom. Do your background and temperament make it easier or harder for you to believe that God truly forgives you, and for you to extend that forgiveness to others?
  • Barclay also wrote: “‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’…. It is… quite clear that…. if we say, ‘I will never forgive so-and-so for what he or she has done to me’… and then take this petition on our lips, we are quite deliberately asking God not to forgive us…. To be forgiven we must forgive, and that is a condition of forgiveness which only the power of Christ can enable us to fulfill.” ** How can you let Jesus fill all of your relationships, even the hard ones, with forgiveness?
Prayer

Loving Lord, I must regularly count on your willingness to forgive me. Mold my heart so that everyone I meet can learn to count on that willingness in me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar is the Community Assistance Coordination Director in Resurrection's Congregational Care Ministry. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.

More than anything, I want to be a person of grace. I don’t want to judge anyone. My picture of what kind of believer I want to be begins with wanting to offer God’s grace to everyone. Some situations offer up an obvious need for me to ask God to fill me with the grace I need to forgive, and to not judge the actions of others. But others– smaller, more mundane offenses–can bring me up short on grace and long on judgement. 

Author Joe Posnanski tells a story about sitting at a baseball game with Buck O’Neill, who played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and was one of the first black coaches in the Major Leagues and later a scout. In his wonderful book, The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America, Joe talks about a day when he and Buck were at a baseball game and witnessed an adult jump in front of a child to catch a fly ball. Joe was incensed that the adult would do a thing like that. Buck, whose message was often one of grace, said, “Oh, we don’t know what’s going on with other people. That man could have a sick child at home and wants to give him a present.” This story has always resonated with me because I, too, can be very critical of others’ actions in situations exactly like this, and jump to judgment even if I don’t really know anything. 

It’s times like that when I, too, forget Jesus’ call to grace and forgiveness. Someone cutting me off in traffic or stealing a parking place. The neighbor who races his motorcycle up and down the street late at night. The person who doesn’t hurt me but hurts someone I care about. Politicians. People in power who I believe are abusing it. People I believe are not loving their neighbor the way I think they should. I hear myself saying very judgmental things, and then, hopefully, something stops me. I hear the words of the prayer I say every day: “forgive my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.”  Uh-oh. Little trespasses and “small” lapses in grace count, too. Jesus said my perceived moral high ground doesn’t give me the right to judge someone else. Jesus said to love my neighbors, my enemies, those who persecute me or someone I love, and everyone else. No exceptions. God’s love is always best demonstrated by the way his followers act towards others, and in the thoughts behind those acts. 

Luke 6:35-36 says the way to show God’s love to the world is, “Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High acts, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.” 

Lord, I want to be a person of grace. I want to show and share your love with everyone. Please help me hear your voice when I am drawn to judgment. Help me realize that I don’t know everything about anything, except that I have been miraculously forgiven. Let that be the place my thoughts and words spring from. Amen.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew—Volume 1 Chapters 1–10 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 87.
** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew—Volume 1 Chapters 1–10 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, pp. 222-223.