March 2 – Do not Judge
Jesus told His disciples, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
During Jesus’ lifetime, the Pharisees and the scribes placed strict rules based on the ten Commandments and harsh judgments against those whom they felt were not as pious as them. We too judge and condemn those who we feel are not as “good” as we are or see them for their sin while not seeing our own sin. When we are hurt, it is difficult to forgive and be merciful on the one who sinned against us. Jesus is telling His disciples how we should act towards others, both followers and non-followers, so that we may be more like our Father in heaven.
We all have been judged and condemned to death after the fall of man, and we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us deserves the mercy and forgiveness that is given to us by God, and it is an amazing gift of grace that we are able to join our sin with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and be forgiven and have all judgment against us covered by His Blood. When we are given such amazing gifts, we are also called to share those gifts with those whose sin is also covered by Jesus’ sacrifice and share those gifts with those who have not yet come to believe in God and His forgiveness. There are so many parables given to us by Jesus which talk about how we are called to share the gifts that we are given with others. If we hide the gifts or squander them, or punish someone else for something that we have been forgiven for, we too lose the gift of grace.
A sample of Jesus’ mercy on the sinner can be easily seen in with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and was sentenced to be stoned (John 8:2-11). Jesus told the people ready to stone the woman, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Everyone left! Jesus could have thrown the first stone since He was without sin, but instead He said to her, “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” In this simple story, Jesus showed us although the woman was judged, found to be guilty and condemned to death, we must show mercy and forgiveness because we are all guilty of some sin which would also condemn us to the same death. By offering mercy and forgiveness, Jesus did not say that what she did was right by not condemning her. Instead, He told her to go and not sin again. We are likewise called not to tolerate a sinful behavior while at the same time loving the person who is committing it. Our showing mercy includes our inspiring our fellow sinners to make a change by confronting sinful behavior head-on, correcting it through wise counsel and being of assistance where appropriate in their process of seeking the forgiveness of God and man.
Finally, we are to give and it will be given to us. Many people will give their time only when they have extra time or give money from what they have left after all the bills and extras. That would be like eating a chocolate bar until we are full and then “sharing” the little bit that is remaining with our brother or sister. Instead, Jesus tells us if we give first instead of first having our portion, we will receive even more. Imagine that we are making chocolate chip cookies. We don’t want to just put in a little flour, sugar & what’s remaining from an open bag of chocolate chips. We have to put the full measure of good ingredients if we expect to receive from what is produced the full measure of its goodness! We, likewise, will receive an abundance in return for the time that is given in service to God when we give generously to others from our first fruits. If we do not give in full measure, then the lesser measure is all we will receive in return.
Lent in Action:
Show mercy to someone who needs it.