The Sure and Firm Foundation of Our Faith
(Luke chapter 6, verses 37-49)
For this week's Bible study, we will be going over the third part of the gospel of Luke chapter six. When we concluded last week's study, we were in the middle of the revered Sermon on the Mount. Jesus had just finished teaching that we are to, “Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father is merciful”. At this point in Matthew's gospel, it reads, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.”(Matt. 5: 7) Merciful people – that is, compassionate, kindhearted people who are filled with empathy – will be shown the same degree of favorable judgment and benefit of the doubt that they showed toward others when they stand before God, and they will receive it through Christ himself, in person. Now that's what I call something to look forward to! On that note, let's begin the 3rd and final part of Luke chapter six.
“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 a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his 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 own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (Luke 6, verses 37-42)
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” Wow, that's an entire sermon right there! Although these words are inspirational, there's far more to it than guidance and inspiration. When we consider just what Jesus meant, we find ourselves at the realization that there will be no haters, bigots or racists in heaven. Forget about it! If anyone judges, despises or mistrusts others because of race, creed or nationality, as well as sexual orientation, gender, economic status and political considerations with that as well, but that's just me), they will be judged with the same degree of intolerance that they showed others.
OK, what else? Class warfare and economic inequality will not exist in heaven, either. Meaning, the same degree of intolerance anyone shows to homeless individuals, displaced families or the incarcerated, Jesus will direct back toward these same hate-filled people. Those who refused to hire an ex-convict trying to restart their lives after finishing their sentences and paying their debt to society will similarly be refused entry into heaven after their lives on earth are over and done with. “What goes around comes around.” That, in my humble opinion, is exactly what Jesus meant by not judging and condemning.
“Give, and it will be given to you.... For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I believe it is fairly likely that this is the origin of the contemporary truism, “What goes around comes around”. Have you ever noticed that mean and grouchy people seldom have any friends? Neither does a jerk or an arrogant person. There's a reason for that. If you want to be treated well, treat others at least as well, if not better, than you would treat yourself. “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” At first glance, this statement seems to be self-explanatory. But I think what Jesus was also saying here is that we had each better choose our teachers well. He was partially talking about himself, of course. Correct and sound teaching produces a well grounded and very capable graduate. But filling someone's head full of incorrect or corrupted teaching sends the graduate down a road that will end in failure. So this is something to be avoided at all costs. So at the end of the day, we must either teach well or remain silent.
“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 own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” If you must insist on being judgmental, Jesus told them all that day, then you can start with yourselves. And, starting with ourselves is what we must do every day for the rest of our lives in order to better follow Christ. But, not as an obligation but rather as a choice and as a way to maintain our personal integrity before the Lord. Jesus was telling them, but not in so many words, ‘If you seriously want to be my follower, and particularly if you want to be my apostle, always judge yourself first before judging the world around you, and the people within that world.’ And now let's go over the second half of this week's lesson, beginning at verse 43.
“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. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart our mouths speak. Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord', and not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on a rock. When a flood came, the torrent shook that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words but does not put them into practice is like the man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6, verses 43-49)
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.... The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Have you ever noticed that 'gamers' have no backup? I'm not writing about video game players here, I'm writing about opportunistic individuals who busy themselves with 'gaming' other people to their detriment for an easy profit. The con artist, the shady salesperson, the crooked Wall St. trader and many computer hackers are four examples I can think of. How do we test whether someone's fruit is good or bad? Compare what they tell you to what their lives are actually like. If everything checks out, that's indicative of good fruit. But if someone tells you all about all the good things they do, while in actuality their lives are a train wreck, that smell you just got a whiff of is their rotten fruit.
“Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord', and not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent shook that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” ‘If you put what I've been teaching you today into practice’, Jesus was telling the crowd, ‘you will have chosen well’. As before, Jesus was indirectly talking about himself. Jesus then tells everyone in equally stark terms what the fate of those who do not follow his teachings will be. “But the one who hears my words but does not put them into practice is like the man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Those who refuse to obey Jesus Christ, who refuse to believe in the Bible or who scoff at God, will be consumed by their own insistence on having everything their way all the time. But it is the wise judges, along with those who decline to judge anyone at all, whose foundation is the act of living at peace with everyone – as far as that is possible – and with God through Christ, They will be able to ride out the storms of life due in part to their meekness and humility, but mostly due to their internal strength, which has been given to them by placing their faith in Christ. Those who refuse to do these things will ultimately be destroyed. Let's ponder these things this coming week and find our own ways to put all these things into practice as best we can, and next week we'll begin chapter 7.