Archive for May 19th, 2008

Measure for Measure

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Today’s scripture: Luke 6:37 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (David Squire):

This verse brings to mind Julie Benson’s favorite verse, John 7:24: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” which seems to contradict today’s reading, or at least modify it. So as long as we’re making a “righteous judgment”, we’re OK? I know I can certainly work up some righteous indignation at times, but righteous judgment?

There are several times in scripture where God alone is called the righteous judge (Psalm 7:11, Psalm 9:8, Jeremiah 11:20, II Timothy 4:8). I think there are two ways that God’s judgment is righteous, where we fail miserably:

  1. God knows the details — all the “extenuating circumstances.” Even when humans do their best to know the facts in order to make a judgment — in a court of law, with full-time professionals whose duty is to seek out the truth — we far too often get it wrong. So what chance do I have of making snap judgments that are truly righteous?
  2. God is love. God’s righteous judgment would be rendered for all the right reasons. Mine? It might make me feel superior, or allow me to vent, but it surely won’t bring about any good.

There are lots of times each day when I sit in judgment of the people I encounter — at least in my head, if not out loud.

  • I complain about the poor service at the restaurant, but I don’t see — or care — that the waiter is working two jobs because she’s a single mom who’s doing the best she knows how.
  • I sneer at the “bum” on the sidewalk and tell him to “get a job!” but I’ve never had to fight the demons of addiction like he has. (I have my own demons, of course, but they’re just not so public as his are.)
  • I’m really impatient with the “extra grace required” person at church, but I’ve honestly never taken the time to get to know her. I just assume there’s nothing I can gain by hearing her story.
  • And there are plenty more, “lesser” infractions: I dismiss him because he’s too queeny, she’s too butch, they’re too loud (or quiet), he’s too fat, she’s anorexic, I can’t believe she’s a smoker!, and did you get a load of that outfit he was wearing?

And I haven’t made any effort to know the circumstances of those I’m judging, nor am I showing any of God’s love. Instead of passing righteous judgment, it’s self-righteous judgment. Big difference.

Verse 38 continues the thought with a promise, “for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” For my own good, I’d better be really careful of what I dish out to others.

Thought and prayer for the day: God, I would hate to be judged as harshly as I can judge others. Help me to understand the circumstances others labor under — and help me to be a dispenser of your love, not my own petty, selfish judgment.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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