Trinity Fourth Sunday Morning Prayer (27 June 2021) Luke 6:37, 38
When Jesus started His ministry, He preached about repentance and the kingdom of heaven. We read that the people who were in darkness saw a great light because of Jesus. Jesus had many disciples. Before choosing twelve among them, He went up to the hill and prayed to His Father the whole night. The next morning, he selected the twelve and named them ‘Apostles’. Jesus started preparing the Apostles to go forth and preach about the kingdom of heaven. Often, He used parables for their easy understanding. He healed many and resurrected people from the dead. His Sermon on the Mount and the beatitudes encouraged the people to seek the kingdom of heaven.
Today’s meditation is based on our Gospel portion, the Gospel according to St. Luke 6:36-42. In verses 37 and 38 of this passage we read, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again”. I would like to meditate on judging and forgiving others and offering and charity based on these two verses.
1. JUDGING AND FORGIVING
Luke 6:37 says, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven”. Let us find out more about Jesus’s expectation on forgiveness based on two parables.
In Luke 18, Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and publican. We are familiar with this parable. Two people came to the temple to pray. One was a pharisee and the other was a publican. The pharisee stood and thanked God for his own perfection and righteousness. He compared himself with others and told God about his fasting and tithes. But the publican who came to pray during the same time cried “God be merciful to me a sinner”. Jesus concluded in Luke 18:14 saying, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.”
In Matthew 18, Jesus told the parable of the king and the servant. This is another familiar passage to us. The servant borrowed ten thousand talents from the king. When the king commanded to sell him, his wife, his children and all that he had, he pleaded with the king. The king was moved with compassion and forgave him his debt. This servant found one of his fellowservants who owed him 100 pence. He did not have compassion on him and cast his fellowservant in the prison. When the king came to know about this, he “was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” Jesus concluded in Matthew 18:35 saying, “likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses”.
Jesus said the pharisees gave importance to external appearances but their hearts were full of ravening and wickedness. They wanted prime positions wherever they went. They gave importance to rituals, but did not have love and compassion. It was common practice for the pharisees to fast twice a week and give tithes. They did it to fulfil Moses’ laws and commandments. The pharisee judged others as extortioners, unjust and adulterers based on his righteousness. The publican humbled himself before God. He did not have courage to lift his eyes up to heaven. He cried for God’s mercy. He accepted that he was a sinner. He did not compare himself with anyone.
Today, we use various modes of communication. Our telephones and mobile phones are more frequently used for communication. Our communication will be effective only if we listen to the other person is speaking. Similarly, prayer is a two-way communication between us and God. Our prayer will be effective only if it is a two-way communication. The pharisee had a one-way communication but the publican’s communication was two-way. The pharisee came to show his righteousness before God. The publican came seeking forgiveness. The publican was justified, that is, he received forgiveness.
The servant wanted his debt to be forgiven but he was not ready to forgive his fellowservant’s debt. He did not show the same compassion that was shown to him. Because he did not have compassion and did not forgive, he lost the forgiveness that he received. Matthew 7:12 says “whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Based on our reading today, we see that if we judge others, we will be judged. If we condemn, we shall be condemned. If we forgive, we will be forgiven.
2. OFFERING AND CHARITY
Jesus expects charity from every one of us. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again”. We are very familiar with Matthew 7:7. It says, ask and it shall be given unto you. But in today’s reading, Jesus said, give and it shall be given unto you. Let us find out more about Jesus’s expectation on charity based on two passages.
Jesus saw how the people cast money into the treasury. A widow threw in two mites while other rich people cast in much. But Jesus said she gave more because “all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living”.
In 1 Kings chapter 17 we read about a great famine during king Ahab’s reign. God asked prophet Elijah hide by the brook Cherith. When the brook dried up, God asked him to go to Zarephath. God commanded a widow to take care of Elijah. When Prophet Elijah found the widow, he asked for water. When she went to fetch water, he asked for bread. The widow replied she only had an handful of meal in a barrel and a little oil in a cruse. She was gathering sticks, so she could prepare it for her and her son, that they may eat it and die. But Elijah told her to make a little cake first for him and bring it to him, and then make for her and her son. He promised “The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” She did as Elijah asked and the promise was fulfilled in her life.
The widow whom Jesus saw gave all that she had for her living. She had needs, but she gave to God. The Zarephath widow obeyed God’s word and gave all that she had first to the prophet. She had to feed her son and also eat, but she fed the prophet first. God met her needs until it rained. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister”. Based on our reading today, we see that when we give, we will receive, our needs will be met. We will receive with the same measure that we measure to others.
We know that Jesus consolidated the ten commandments to two commandments based on Love. Jesus spoke these verses in Luke 6 based on the second commandment which is love your neighbour as yourself.
The pharisee kept his righteousness and perfection as the benchmark to judge others. His prayer was not accepted. The servant was forgiven because of the king’s compassion towards him. He was made free from his debts. But he did not exhibit the same compassion that he received. He did not forgive his fellowservant’s debt. He was condemned because he condemned his fellowservant. He lost the forgiveness that he received. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, Jesus said, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Jesus Christ paid all our debts on the cross. Our sins are forgiven when we are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God. We have received the forgiveness freely and God is expecting to forgive others the same way. What is our benchmark? Are we judging others? Or are we tolerant of their shortcomings and faults? Do we forgive as we expect to be forgiven? If we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven.
Secondly, we can read God’s expectation on Charity in Matthew 6. Verse 3 says, “when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth”. How is our offering? Are we giving from our abundance? Or are we giving all that we have? Is our love and charity pleasing in the sight of God? Or is it hypocritic? In Mark 9:41 Jesus said, “whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Whatever we do to others, our reward will come from our Lord.
Let us self-examine ourselves about how we are judging and forgiving others. There are many people who are in need of our love and compassion. We are called to share the love of God and prepare them to inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity”. Let us look at our offering and charity. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver”.
Let us pray!
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your words today. Thank you for your gift of forgiveness. You offered yourself so our sins could be forgiven and we could be set free. Thank you for your sacrifice. Give us a forgiving and tolerant heart so we can forgive others as we would like to be forgiven. Help us to be true and faithful when we bring our offerings to your presence. Grant us a generous heart so we see the needs in others and satisfy them. Help us to give cheerfully. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!