Kingdom Attitude

Posted: September 18, 2016 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 6:37-42, “Kingdom Attitude”

Ever get a bad attitude?  Sometimes it’s easy to wake up that way.  Until we get one cup of coffee we’re not in any ways prepared to deal with other people.  Someone might ask an innocent question only to get his/her head bitten off.  Guess what we’ve become at that point?  Hypocrites.  We may have woken up as a Christian, but we sure weren’t acting like it at the time.  Nobody likes a hypocrite.  For good reason: we say we’re going to do one thing, and then we end up doing something else.  A lot of that comes down to the attitude of our hearts.  If we have a right attitude, then our actions will likely reflect the things we say we are as believers; if not, then we’re headed down the road of hypocrisy.  Attitude matters.  And what’s the attitude of a believer supposed to be?  Mercy.

Last week, we looked at the ethic of the kingdom: that of mercy.  Jesus had been teaching the Sermon on the Plain (which is very similar to the Sermon on the Mount, found in the gospel of Matthew), and He had already turned common expectations upside down.  The first thing Jesus did was to proclaim those who suffered as being blessed.  Whenever someone was poor, hungry, weeping, or persecuted, they could consider themselves extraordinarily happy – not because of their circumstance, but because on Whom their circumstances were centered.  When these things happened to them for Jesus’ sake, it was a blessed thing.  Why?  Because for the Christian, this world is as bad as it’s ever going to get.  Heaven will be infinitely better as we live in the physical presence of our Lord Jesus!  Of course, the opposite is true as well: for the non-Christian, this world is as good as it’s ever going to get.  For those who reject Jesus, then the pleasures of this present world are the most they will ever receive.  They’ve already experienced their reward.

But that introduction brought up the subject of mercy.  How are Christians to respond when they are hated & persecuted for Jesus’ sake?  With mercy.  With the same love & mercy we have received from God, that is what we are to extend towards others.  That sort of mercy is exactly what is needed in times of injustice & suffering.  After all, it’s easy to love those who love us.  It’s easy to be forgiving with those who have forgiven us.  But that’s the bare minimum – even sinners do that.  What’s far more difficult is to be merciful with those who don’t deserve mercy.  That’s what Jesus expects of us – but of course, that’s what Jesus did with us.  We were hateful and cruel towards God in rebellion, yet God gave us mercy.  He demonstrated His own love towards us in that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us (Rom 5:8).  Our God is merciful, so His children ought to be merciful as well.

That’s the ethic of a Christian: merciful love.  That’s the core principle behind whatever it is that we do.  To this point, Jesus had spoken very practically, and it has been easy to see the ethic of mercy in it all.  But what about our minds?  What about our hearts?  Does God care what goes on with our attitudes?  Absolutely He does!  A person might be able to force themselves to act a certain way on the outside while still muttering curses and judgments on the inside.  That’s what Jesus deals with next.  If the ethic of the kingdom is mercy, then the attitude of the kingdom is mercy as well.  We not only need right theory, we need clean hearts.  And that’s something that only comes through the grace of Christ!

Luke 6:37–42

  • The instruction

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. …

  • This is probably the most quoted command of Jesus among our current generation.  They don’t necessarily remember John 3:16, nor necessarily His exclusive statement about being the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) – but they remember His command to His disciples not to judge.  And they don’t hesitate to throw it in our faces when they think that we’re doing it.  And you know what?  Sometimes they’re right.  Sometimes we’re a bit too quick to jump to the common explanations of this command & find loopholes to fit our own situation, rather than simply take Jesus at His word.  We shouldn’t make it that complicated.  In Luke’s Greek, the statement is only barely as long as it is in English.  He apparently didn’t think Jesus needed much commentary.  Do we still need to explain it?  Yes – but let’s not be too quick to give ourselves an “out.”  Remember that Jesus is speaking to His disciples here, and if He’s telling them not to judge, then He’s telling us not to judge.  Let’s be sure to look for Jesus’ heart & intent before we look for our own escape hatches.
  • That said, what does Jesus mean when He says not to judge? The word is κρίνω (~ critic, criticize).  In a positive sense, the word could refer to simply making a selection or distinction between a variety of things.  Negatively (which seems to be Jesus’ context) this would refer to critical judgmentalism.  If you’ve ever found yourself in the position of having someone look down their nose at you because they found you distasteful for whatever reason, you know what it’s like to be judged in this way.  Keep in mind, context is key.  Again, the idea of judgment itself could be used positively – it isn’t always a bad thing.  In Chapter 12, Jesus questions the crowd as to why they could not “judge what is right,” & settle their own disagreements without getting dragged into court. (12:57)  To the apostles, Jesus told them that one day they would “sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (22:30)  In each of these cases, the same word (κρίνω) was used.  Obviously, Jesus did not believe that all judgment was wrong.  The problem comes when we’re judging wrongly, which was the point Jesus made with the people of Jerusalem when they were upset with Him for healing a man on the Sabbath.  John 7:24, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."  There’s the rub.  Judgment itself isn’t bad – it can even be good and necessary.  Superficial judgment is the problem.  If someone has the wrong standard by which to judge, their judgment is always going to be wrong.  Thus we need to make sure we’re judging by the right standard.
  • That takes more than knowledge – it takes the right heart.  Think about it: even courtroom judges have to recuse themselves from time to time, because they have some sort of personal tie or previous interaction with the case.  Legally, their opinion would be compromised & they would not be able to hear both sides of the evidence without bias.  Something similar can happen with us as Christians.  We might have all the right theological knowledge about an issue, thus having the right intellectual standard by which to judge an act, but our flesh gets in the way & we start judging the person instead, looking down our noses at him/her.  If our hearts aren’t right, then our judgment won’t be either.  This is the difference between judgment & judgmentalism.  This is the difference between judging actions vs. individuals.  Actions need to be evaluated, and it takes godly people with good discernment to identify what is or is not Biblical.  Individuals, however, don’t.  Judge actions; not people.
  • Question: how can we know that Jesus is making a difference between the two?  Remember the very last thing Jesus said in vs. 36: “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”  You cannot be merciful towards an action – you can only show mercy to a person.  Again, there are too many other places in Scripture (several being statements from Jesus Himself) about the need for us to judge.  But those situations refer to judging actions (or even ourselves) with the right standard of God’s truth.  When it comes to judging other people AS people – when it comes to judging someone else’s heart or simply judging them as an individual, that is something Jesus warns us not to do.
  • Why the warning?  Because those who judge shall be judged themselves.  This is a pattern picked up throughout this section.  What we extend to others, we receive in return.  When we judge others, we will find ourselves on the receiving end of judgment.  This isn’t necessarily speaking of the judgment we receive from other people – after all, others might judge us wrongly even if we are the most gracious, least-judgmental people around.  Just because you are without prejudice doesn’t mean that others are.  No, the judgment referred to by Jesus is the judgment that every person will face: that of God.  One day, every single person will stand before God and give account.  The question is: what kind of judgment do you want to receive?  Remember that even born-again believers will stand for judgment, though it is a different judgment than that of non-Christians (2 Cor 5:10).  How we live today as Christians has an effect on our reward as we enter the kingdom, and that will be determined at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:12-15).  Thus, we need to be careful how we judge others, for we face a judgment of our own.

… Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. …

  • What’s the difference between judgment & condemnation?  At first glance, not much.  Perhaps the main difference is that the Greek word used for “condemn” refers more to legal settings.  If someone is condemned, they are pronounced guilty.  Is Jesus forbidding Christians to serve in criminal court settings?  Obviously not.  We need godly people with good discernment serving throughout our judicial system in order to see right judgments handed out – and that includes correct legal condemnation of the guilty.  No, Jesus isn’t talking about condemnation by the courts; He’s referring to condemnation by the crowds.  In Jesus’ context, the underlying idea is mercy, so condemnation would be the withholding of mercy & the pronouncement of guilt.  It’s us looking at others, judging their heart, and declaring they are beyond help.  We make ourselves their accuser, their judge, and their jury all in one, and sentence them to hell.
  • Some of the most obvious examples of this are the abhorrent practices of the so-called “Westboro Baptist Church.”  These are the people who show up at military funerals with hateful signs declaring “God hates f*gs,” “”thank God for dead soldiers,” & more.  It needs to be emphasized that the group (despite its name) has nothing to do with any recognized Baptist organization & it fits the definition of a cult, being comprised basically of one single family & having a twisted view of the Scriptures, holding such an extreme form of Calvinism that not even true Calvinists affirm.  They want people to die and go to hell, and regularly condemn them there.  Here is an instance in which right judgment ought to be applied: what WBC does is absolutely wrong.  It is flat-out unbiblical & has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What they engage in is hatred & condemnation of the worst kind.
  • WBC might be extreme, but unjust condemnation can be found in the hearts of all kinds of otherwise normal, born-again Christian individuals.  We might find ourselves lapsing into a mindset of condemnation when we look at a group & declare them impossible to be saved – or we look at the way a person is dressed or how many tattoos he/she has & automatically believe him/her to be dangerous – or anytime we exercise unjust prejudice without taking time to get to know someone.  Only God knows who someone truly is on the inside – only God knows a person’s heart.  And, only God knows if someone is or is not going to heaven.  We cannot look inside someone’s heart and determine if he/she truly has faith.  A person might attend a heretical church, yet still be saved in spite of the church’s official teaching.  We’ve got to be very careful looking upon a person and declaring his/her eternal fate in condemnation, because at the end of the day, only God knows & God alone has the right to condemn.
    • BTW, God does indeed know the state of our hearts, and we can, too.  We cannot condemn others to hell, but we can know where we ourselves will spend eternity.  Make no mistake, there are only two options: (1) heaven, with all of its glories in the presence of our Creator God, or (2) hell, where there is weeping & gnashing of teeth, eternally separated from God.  We will go to either one of those two places – where you go is determined today, in this life.  The good news is that you can know you will go to heaven – you can have 100% assurance that you will be there, when you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior.  When a person turns away from sin, places his/her faith/trust in Jesus, believing Him to be the Son of God who died upon the cross & rose from the grave, that person is saved.  That person has total assurance of eternity in heaven, free from the eternal condemnation of God.  (You can have it too!)
  • Those were two negative commands, but Jesus takes it around to the positive too…

… Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

  • Forgiveness often gets misunderstood.  For some, they think that forgiveness means that they need to put a fake smile on their face & pretend that something never happened.  Even though they were hurt in a terrible way, they just need to buck it up & forget about it.  That’s not forgiveness.  That’s not even the way God forgives us!  When God forgives us of our sins, it’s not because He pretends that nothing happened.  No, something DID happen, and Jesus had to suffer and die upon the cross because that thing happened.  There was a tremendous price to be paid for our forgiveness, but it was paid, and now it is done.  Now, when we come to faith in Christ, God can release us from our sin & offenses & truly forgive us.  And that’s also the general idea here.  The word used for “forgive” refers to a release.  To let something be gone from a person – we might even think of setting something free.  In the case of an offense against us, we let it go – we release it.  We don’t hold the grudge closely to us, nursing it, feeding it with our fury as we think on it time & time again.  Instead, we let it go free.  It’s not a pretense that we were never offended; it’s a choice not to remain offended.
  • Is it easy?  No.  It certainly didn’t come easy for God – it came at a great price!  But the price was paid.  And because it was paid for us, it was paid for others, too.  Legally, people might be required to pay restitution to us for any wrong they may have done.  Spiritually, that restitution has already been paid.  What right do we have to hold someone’s spiritual debts against us when we’ve already been forgiven of so much spiritual debt of our own?  Jesus told the parable of the unforgiving servant that explains this very point.  A servant who owed his king many millions of dollars begged his master for forgiveness, and the king released him from his debt.  Yet once the servant left, he found a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars, and the first servant threw him into debtors’ prison.  Word got back to the king, who wasn’t at all happy.  Matthew 18:32–35, "(32) Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. (33) Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ (34) And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. (35) “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”"  Jesus ends the parable with a warning, much like He gives here in the Sermon on the Plain: if we want to be forgiven, we need to extend forgiveness.  That’s a sobering thought, and not one to take lightly.
    • Question: Does our salvation hang on whether or not we forgive others?  No – our salvation is 100% dependent on what we do with Jesus, whether or not we believe upon Him as our Lord & Savior.  But one way the fruit of our faith shows itself is through our forgiveness of others.  That’s when the love of God is put into action.  Have we really been transformed by the gospel?  Are we really born-again?  Whether or not we’re willing to forgive others goes a long way to demonstrate that.

38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

  • Here’s the last instruction, though we might wonder what this has to do with the context.  After all, the issue of generous giving seems so much different than judgmentalism or forgiveness.  Well, it all depends on what is being given.  If this has to do with money, then it may be somewhat unrelated.  But if it has to do with mercy, then it’s totally related.  Think about it: Jesus never once says what it is that is being given – we just typically assume that He’s speaking financially.  And this principle is indeed taught elsewhere in the Bible in regards to finances.  If we sow sparingly, we will reap sparingly, while God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:6-7). Yet is that really the idea here?  Remember the primary guideline for interpretation is to look to the immediate context, and the whole thought here is mercy.  Withholding judgment – withholding condemnation – freely forgiving – what would most naturally come next other than being generous with mercy?  It certainly provides a nice balance to Jesus’ teaching: two negative commands + two positive commands.  It also fits in well with the similar teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus talks about the measure being used in regards to judgment (not giving).  Of course, part of our merciful giving might practically show itself as giving generously to someone in dire financial need (per vs. 30), but the most immediate context is that of mercy in general.  How might we extend kindness to someone we might otherwise judge?  That’s what we’re to do, and do it abundantly.
  • Regardless of what it is you give, what is it you receive?  That which you gave out.  Jesus goes into great detail here describing what is given back.  There was a common practice in the day of measuring out grain to ensure that a buyer received the full amount that he purchased, and that’s the picture upon which Jesus draws.  It’s like when a baker is measuring a full cup of packed flour – it’s going to be pressed down & shaken together to ensure no room is left.  To Jesus’ point, that’s where the measure comes in.  Did you use a cup – a quart – a gallon?  We receive what we give.  From a financial viewpoint, we can easily affirm that we won’t ever out-give God, but contextually that doesn’t quite fit.  If we give God a cup’s worth of whatever, He frequently gives us a gallon’s worth in return.  It isn’t unusual at all for God to give us far more than what we gave Him.  Thus again, the idea is something different.  What we give out to others is what is measured back to us – and that’s the measure that God uses with us at our own judgment.  Did we give out a cup’s worth of mercy, or did it flow abundantly from us towards others?
  • The bottom line: how much mercy do you wish to receive?  Give out the same!  So how much do you want to receive?  Before you answer too quickly, think for a moment how much mercy you require.  It may be easy for us to think, “Well, I certainly don’t mind taking my lumps for the mistakes I’ve made.  Certainly someone else can do it, too!”  But in the process, we probably don’t account for all of our responsibilities.  It’s one thing to take our punishment from other people; it’s another thing to take it from God.  Our sin against Him is unfathomable, and thus our need for mercy is infinite.  That makes the mercy we give to others all the more important.  Again, this goes back to the parable of the unforgiving servant.  He owed his king many millions of dollars (in today’s terms) – he owed his king a debt that he had no hope of paying in his own lifetime.  That’s us, in light of the sin we’ve committed against God.  To sin just one time a day accumulates a debt of 25,550 sins by the time a person is 70 years old.  (And who sins only once per day!?)  Each and every sin carries with it a wage of death – not to mention that we were born with a sinful nature, so we’re left in a pretty bad position just from the start.  With all of that in mind, think again on how much mercy you require.  A lot!  The mind cannot comprehend how much mercy we need.  If God doesn’t bathe us in an ocean of it, we have no hope!  That is exactly what He does when we come to faith in Christ.  We are completely cleansed & forgiven in Jesus, all because of Jesus.  That’s the mercy we’ve received.  Thus when it comes to the mercy we extend, the choice should be easy: give it.  Give it freely, abundantly, by the gallon – by the tanker load!  However much mercy someone requires, give it.  Give it from the heart, with an attitude of joyful mercy because you have already received the same.

That’s all the instruction.  Now Jesus is going to illustrate it for them.  Why should the attitude of kingdom citizens be that of mercy?  Because that is what we ourselves require.

  • The illustration

39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?

  • It’s interesting that Luke says that Jesus spoke “a parable” to them, as if there is only one.  We might count three altogether – but perhaps Luke is either thinking of the whole illustration section as “a parable,” or maybe he sees each of these illustrations related.  Although scholars have struggled with some of the contextual relationships here, there does seem to be some indication that one situation builds upon the other, leading to a common conclusion.
  • It all begins with common blindness.  When it comes to events that require mercy, it’s easy to be caught in a situation where no one knows what to do.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be complex; the main problem could be with the people.  If two people run into an argument, and neither of them are following the Lord, then they’re headed for trouble.  Maybe one (or both) of them are saved, but neither one is actively looking to honor Jesus at that particular time.  Each one is seeking his/her own will & his/her own benefit, regardless of what is going on with the other person.  There’s only one possible outcome in that situation: disaster.  Both are blind, and both are going to stumble into the ditch.  Even if one person is actively trying to help the other, but doesn’t know the truth of God’s word of how to help, then that situation isn’t going to turn out very good.  It would be like you inviting me over to your house to do basic electrical repairs.  It’s not going to be good for anyone involved! If you need help, you need someone qualified to help you.  If you have a blindfold over your eyes (or have your eyes dilated by the doctor), then you need someone who can actually see and is willing to help.  You need someone who knows what to do and is willing to be merciful.
    • This is one area in which Bible study and basic discipleship becomes so important for the Christian.  There are times we are willing to help, but we might find ourselves ignorant on how to help.  The more mature we are in the Lord, and the better we ourselves know God’s word, the more we’re actually able to help others when the need arises.  At the very least, we need to be able to point someone in the right direction.  If we don’t know what to do, we need to be able to take them to someone who can.
    • BTW – more often than not, that Someone is Jesus!  Every born-again Christian ought to be able to lead someone else to Christ.  The ultimate blindness is spiritual blindness, and we have no excuse not to be able to help someone else open their eyes to Jesus.

40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

  • If in the first scenario, no one knew what to do or where to go, in this next scenario, people are learning.  Yet with learning comes a limit.  A disciple cannot go beyond what his teacher has taught.  We cannot do what we have not yet learned.  We need to pay careful attention to our teacher, so we can do the things that He does.
  • And again, what has He done for us?  He’s shown us mercy.  If you want to know how to extend mercy to others, look at how Jesus had extended mercy to you.  Has Jesus judged you?  Not wrongly.  Has Jesus condemned you?  He didn’t come to condemn you, but to save you.  Has He forgiven you?  Abundantly so!  Has He given you mercy and other kindnesses?  In too many ways to count!  Have you seen it?  Good – now go and do likewise.  If you are a born-again Christian, you are a disciple of your Master, Jesus.  Go and do the things that He has done for you.  Walk in His footsteps.  That is what it is like to “be like” our teacher.
  • The word used for “perfectly trained” is interesting in that it speaks of something that has been put in order, or repaired – perhaps like a fishing net that has been sewn up.  When something has been put into the proper condition, it’s ready for use.  Like a person who has healed from a surgery, or an athlete that is trained for the contest.  Jesus wants us as His disciples to be ready for use.  You can’t be ready without mercy.  You’re not ready if you’re lacking in love.  We can have all kinds of Scripture memorized – we can be trained in all manner of apologetics & evangelistic strategies – we can even have all the money & resources we need – but if we head out without the mercy of Christ in our hearts towards others, we’re going to fail every time.  Without mercy, we’re not ready.  Do you want to be perfectly trained & ready for use?  Spend time praying through and meditating upon the mercy and grace you’ve received from Jesus.  The more grateful you are for Him, the more merciful you’ll be towards others – and thus, the more suited you’ll be to be used by Jesus for His glory.

41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

  • Jesus uses a bit of humor & exaggeration here, but it’s easy to see the point (pun intended).   Everyone at some point has gotten a bit of dust in our eyes.  It’s irritating, perhaps painful, and we want it out.  Who’s best qualified to help us: a caring ophthalmologist with nothing in his eyes apart from magnifying glasses – or the guy walking out of Lowe’s or Home Depot with an armful of lumber in his face?  If we’re the one with the speck, the choice is clear!  If we’re the guy with the lumber, we’ve got to ask ourselves what the heck we’re trying to do!  How are we supposed to help someone else with their minor eye issue when we’ve got a major vision problem of our own?
  • Jesus has a specific label for the lumber-guy: “hypocrite.”  The word is English is directly taken from the Greek (ὑποκριτής), and is actually related to the earlier word used for judge (κρίνω).  Originally, the word meant “to answer or interpret,” and eventually was used to refer to actors on stage who would interpret their role by putting on a mask, changing their voice, changing their dress, etc., to be someone who they were not.  From there, it’s easy to see how the word came to be used of a deceiver or inauthentic person – someone who pretends to be one thing, but are really something else.  The hypocrite is the two-faced person – the one of whom you never know what to trust.  This is what Jesus calls the plank-eyed person.  Why?  Because he’s got bigger problems of his own.  He pretends to be the doctor when in actuality, he’s the one that’s sick.
  • Interestingly, in the parable Jesus shows the hypocrite as the one seemingly willing to extend mercy, by offering to remove the speck from his brother’s eye.  Obviously he needed far more help than his brother!  The problem arises in his lack of self-awareness.  He himself needed mercy, but didn’t admit it.  What was obvious to everyone else was oblivious to him.  Thus the question becomes: was he really trying to be merciful, or was he hypercritical of someone else?  Pretended mercy isn’t mercy at all.  Lumber-eye was judging himself better than speck-eye, not really showing mercy so much as his own supposed superiority.
  • So what does this have to do with the earlier illustrations in the parable? (1) He was blind, (2) he wasn’t following his master.  This is a person in the worst of the prior two situations, unable to help, believing himself in no need of help, judging other unjustly.  He was headed for disaster.
  • With all of that in mind, don’t miss the last part of vs. 42.  There was still help that could be done.  There was true judgment and mercy that could be shown.  Once the plank was removed, then lumber-guy could help the man with the speck.  The speck was still an issue – it was still an irritation that needed to be addressed.  It’s just that something else needed to be done first before the brother could help him.  Sin is still sin, in whomever it’s found.  We certainly need to humble ourselves before God & have our own sin dealt with first, but once we do, that’s when we lovingly go to others and guide them to the same God who helped us.  That’s not done in harsh critical judgment or condemnation – that’s done in merciful compassion, freely giving them the same gospel by which we were saved.

Conclusion:
Attitudes matter.  What are your attitudes towards others?  Have you found yourself judging individuals, rather than actions?  Have you condemned others in your heart, writing them off as lost & bound for hell?  Be careful!  What we give out to others, we can expect to receive ourselves.  Not in a reciprocal karma sort of way – the Bible teaches nothing of the sort.  The judgment we receive will come at the only judgment that truly matters: when we’re standing before Jesus Christ in eternity.  How much mercy do you want to receive in that day?  How much mercy have you already received?  Give out the same.

Keep in mind that nowhere here does Jesus give instructions as to how to earn our salvation.  He never says that if we refrain from judging others or condemning others that we’ll earn our spot in heaven.  He never says that if we die having the slightest amount of unforgiveness in our hearts that we’ve lost out on heaven.  That’s not the idea at all.  The salvation of God is received by His grace – it comes because we have faith in who Jesus is & what He has done for us at the cross…period.  We cannot make ourselves any “more” saved or “less” saved through our attitudes.  What we can do is (1) demonstrate our salvation, whether or not we have it in the first place, and (2) affect the reward we will receive in heaven, as we appear before the judgment seat of Christ.  That’s what Jesus is getting at here in this passage. 

The bottom line is easy: Jesus has given us mercy, so we need to do the same & we need to do it from the heart.  Don’t just say you aren’t judging a person; don’t do it.  Don’t just say “I forgive you,” (like we so often force kids to do after fighting); actually forgive them from your heart.  Release their debt & let it go.  Whatever the example, let your attitude reflect that of Jesus’ attitude towards you: mercy.

For some here today, you may need to spend a few moments getting your attitude right with God.  Maybe there’s a person in your life whom you’ve judged harshly, or over whom you’ve been holding a grudge.  It’s time to deal with that.  It’s time to be rid of it.  Think again on the mercy you’ve received, and truly give it out.  We’ve had enough days playing the hypocrite.  Let us be those who follow our Teacher in sincerity, being perfectly trained & fit for His use.

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