Forgiveness: More About Gift Giving than Right and Wrong
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Luke 6:34–38 ESV
There are a lot of Bible verses that we hear or talk about that seem self-explanatory. Take “Judge no and you will not be judged.” That typically means that you shouldn’t put somebody down for something they did, or think they are evil, otherwise people will put you down and think you are evil. That is right and true as much as it’s true that gravity pulls you down. But just like gravity has a lot more to it than dropping a weight, “judge not” has a lot more to it in the context of Jesus’ teaching.
This is a whole section of Jesus teaching about living in the will and the guidance of God. Many of His examples are things that we need to give up and not value about ourselves or our material life. The immediate context is in loaning people stuff and not expecting to get it back, especially without interest. You’d think “judge not” would be in the context of a bunch of right and wrong rules. You’d think “judge not” would be something Jesus would teach along with what rules to follow on the Sabbath.
Not judging has more to do with generosity and releasing our claim on what we think we possess. If you owe me an apology for sinning against me, and I don’t ask for payment back on that, I’ve forgiven you. That’s what forgiveness is. Not judging is saying that you don’t have to pay me back for your sin, and I don’t even demand that you pay back anybody.
Take that one step further. The apostle Paul said that a trustworthy saying that we should all accept was
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15
So if we all owe debts, and mine is worse, but mine was forgiven, I can forgive yours too.
Judge not, and you will not be judged. It’s true. Give away forgiveness and forget to write it down in a ledger. Your own forgiveness amount has also been lost forever.
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