In my post last week, I talked about America’ obsession with being the best. At this time of the year, the college basketball intra-conference season is in full swing, Rivalry Week is on ESPN, and I anxiously anticipate announcement of the field of 64 on selection Sunday in a few short weeks. Not much makes me smile more than the CBS NCAA basketball jingle at 11:00 am before the tipoff of the first game of round one on Thursday!
While fun, the fundamentals of competition require a winner and a loser. In other words, the best team or the game winner cannot be determined without some measure of comparability; something must always be judged against something else. Someone always has to be second best in order for someone else to be first. This philosophy flies in the face of Luke 6.
In preparation for today’s post, I read Luke 6 last Sunday. Luke 6:37-38 has been on my heart all week.
Luke 6:37-38, 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 with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
As we moved from Genesis to Exodus this week, we began to read through the life of Moses. What we know about him so far was that he was given up by his Levite mother at 3 months, then was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was a Hebrew child in the home of an Egyptian. Hebrews were slaves to the Egyptians. Given his situation, how do you think Moses felt? Do you think he was looked down upon and judged by others because of his heritage? In Exodus 2, we read about Moses killing an Egyptian. When Pharaoh learned of the situation, he threatened to kill Moses, thus Moses fled to Midian. While not necessarily undeserved, this was another example of judgment in Moses’ life.
Perhaps these experiences give us a little insight on Moses’ reactions to God speaking to him through the burning bush today in Exodus 3. When God told Moses he was going to deliver God’s people out of Egypt. Moses questioned, and displayed a lack of confidence, Exodus 3:11, But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Can you identify with Moses’ self-doubt? Have you been criticized or judged for something to the point where you no longer have the confidence to proceed?
As we get to Luke 6:38, Luke switches from words of instruction (do not…) to words of opportunity.
…forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.
Instead of what not to do, he suggests what should be done. Instead of judging or condemning, Luke puts a positive spin on the instructions… Control your own circumstances, seize the opportunity to make a difference. Don’t sit back and wait to be criticized, go on the offensive in a good way.
My favorite part of the passage, however, is the 2nd half of verse 38, Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back.
This part of the passage speaks to magnitude. Forgiveness and generosity will be “pouring into your lap”. If we all tried to get ahead by forgiving, giving or blessing others, what would our world look like? Imagine people trying to out-love each other. Instead of the greatest basketball players of all time, what if our measure of comparability evaluated how much forgiveness we have bestowed on others and/or how much generosity has been poured in our laps? Would you make it on the top 100 list?