Luke 6: 27 – 36
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Being a follower of Jesus means relating to our Abba / Parent / God as a little child and treating Abba’s children the way he would – with wisdom, compassion and mercy. How many of us have seen a small child lost in a tantrum or running head-long into danger? Our Abba sees us in the same way, desiring the best for us, forgiving the worst and helping us pick up the pieces when we blow it. Followers of Jesus are Abba’s hands and feet in this world, messengers of the good news of our hopelessly generous and loving creator parent, channels of his forgiveness and his healing, transforming grace. And so we too are hopelessly loving, always patient and understanding, always mirroring the love Abba has for us to the rest of his children.
Heavenly Father, dearest Abba, give us grace to be like your chosen son Jesus, to be loving, forgiving and affirming of your lost children, that instead of anger or offence, we give back your love to those who have hurt or offended us. Forgive us our unforgiveness and judgement. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Noon Day Prayers Question
Who has hurt you the most in this life? Bring them into the light of God’s presence, forgiving them as you wish to be forgiven your many failings and mistakes. Ask for grace to see them as your Abba sees them. Ask your Heavenly Father to bless them so that what is best for them may be manifested in their lives. In so doing you release yourself from the pinch and poison of bitterness. Whenever you think of this person, ask again for their forgiveness and for your own healing. Ask over and over like peeling the layers of an onion, until your work is done.
Luke 6: 37 – 45
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Judgement is a normal and necessary part of life. This reading begins with do not judge or condemn but then continues by talking about judging others in different contexts such as good trees versus bad trees. It must have been confusing for his relatively uneducated disciples to see respected teachers being sharply critical of their teacher. Jesus was teaching them out of his own experiences of being judged and condemned and what he wanted for his disciples was that they resist the urge to condemn others who hurt or offended. Rather he urged them to be generous in their response, while staying awake to what was good fruit or not. A delicate balance in a charged situation.
Judgement between disciples is another matter and again Jesus wants a self-awareness that is hard to come by. A fiery angry critical response means that something has been triggered in us. In such situations our perception can be quite skewed by our own personal wiring. This is why angry judgement is so divisive, because the fieriness of our reaction indicates we are too involved to see clearly. So rather than self-righteous attacking criticism, Jesus wants the angry person to sort themselves out first – to get the plank out of their own eye. Hard to do, but when you are part of a community committed to loving, forgiving and growing in wisdom when it comes to each of our own reactiveness, then it becomes possible.
Give us grace, in our local bodies of Christ to have the wisdom, compassion and non-judgement to go through the refining fire of human mistakes that exposes to those willing to see, the need to renew the mind that bore such a strong reaction. Give us grace to forgive each other again and again, just as our Abba forgives us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.