In this article, we're going to be reading from Luke 6:37-38 and the well-known verse stating: "Judge not, and you will not be judged" or its King James' equivalent, "Judge not, lest ye be judged. This is among the most misunderstood and misapplied passages in all of the gospels.

What Jesus is talking about in this passage is about less than perfect relationships and how Christians are to respond and react and speak and behave in response to those who do not love us or who do not love us well. Jesus is not asking us to suspend the normal rules of justice or our critical faculties and never ever make judgments about right and wrong or about the behavior of others. Jesus is not telling us that Christians can have no recourse to the court of law. He Himself acknowledged the authority of courts of law and Paul appealed to courts of law in his case in the book of Acts. Jesus' words to not mean that we have to cease being discerning about those who are harming us or that we can never ever make an assessment of a person's character. After all, Jesus Himself is the one that gives us the word, "By your fruits you shall know them." Jesus Himself gives us these things and He expects us to put them into place.

So what is He saying to us in these verses when He says, "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. For with the measure used, it will be given back to you"? He is saying five things and I want to run through them quickly with you and spend most of our time on applying these, because this is hard to do in practical situations when you've been wounded.

I. Be Slow to Condemn

The first thing Jesus is telling us here is that we are to be slow to condemn. He is saying be very careful about rushing to judgment and condemnation. And how practical is that? When you have been wounded by another person, when you have not been loved well by another person, and you are called upon in your heart to make an assessment of them, what is the first thing you want to do? You want to come with thunderbolts and lightening and you want to send down condemnation on that person, and Jesus is saying, "In the circumstance of you not being loved well, in the circumstance of you being mistreated, be slow to condemn." He is asking you to operate in the opposite direction of your instincts of self protection and meting out vengeance. And Jesus says, "Here's the instinct that I want to be operative - be slow to condemn."

II. Be Quick to Forgive

Second, be quick, He says, to forgive. Look at His words - "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." What's your tendency? It's to condemn. It's to say, "You were wrong! You caused all this!" What does Jesus say? "Be quick to forgive. Be slow to condemn, but be quick to forgive." And it's the opposite of how we operate, isn't it? We went to be quick to forgive those who have spoken softly to us. After all, the Proverbs tell us that "a soft answer turns away wrath." But when somebody's betrayed us, wounded us, or let us down, we are quick to condemn. Jesus says, "No, you be quick to forgive instead. Let that be your default setting."

III. Be Ready to Give

Third, notice what else He says - "Be ready to give." Verse 38 - "Give, and it will be given back to you." Don't be a getter. Don't be looking for what you're going to get from various situations. In fact, you might get nothing out of a situation, but in fact, you need to be ready to give into a situation that you do not expect to get anything back out of. In fact, Jesus is asking you to be on the lookout for circumstances where your good behavior is not going to be rewarded or is unlikely to be rewarded. And He says, "Yes, right there - you be ready to give into that situation and you wait to be given to, not from that situation or that person, but from your heavenly Father."

IV. Be Assured of God's Reward

The fourth thing Jesus says is "Be assured of God's reward." Notice what He says, "Good measure will be put in your lap." If you are slow to condemn, quick to forgive, ready to give rather than to get, then once you have given up any idea of getting out of that relationship, receiving out of that relationship God is going to put good measure into your lap. In fact, it's going to be so much that it will have to be pressed down and shaken together because it's going to be running over. So be assured of God's reward. Be slow to condemn, be quick to forgive, be ready to give, be assured of God's reward.

V. For With the Measure You Use, It Will Be Measured Back to You

And then, this fascinating word at the end of verse 38 - "For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." He is saying this - it is God's normal principle of providence over His children, that as they measure out in these circumstances, so He will measure back to them.

In other words, His default setting in providence is to deal with us, because He is a kindly heavenly Father, in the way that we have learned by grace to deal with others. It's an amazing statement about the default setting of God's providence to us. And all five of these things Jesus says to us in the course of this very short passage.

VI. Application

But how do we apply this concretely in relationships in which we have been wounded? Well, let me say several things.

First, if we are going to follow Jesus' dictum not to judge and not to condemn, we are going to have to learn not to judge others for small faults, while allowing ourselves great ones.

Second, we also are going to need to remember that there are degrees in sin. There are specks and there are logs, but here's the trick - the speck in others' eye will always look like a log to you, which the log in your own eye, will always look like a speck to you. And if we are hard on others for something small while allowing ourselves leniency for something large, then it is certain that we have violated the principle of this passage.

Third, we ought to be more exercised about our own sins than we are about the sins of our brethren.

Fourth, we need to be wary of the tendency to justify ourselves or have any lack of a sense of personal need for repentance and reformation. Jesus expects you to make sure that you do not ignore your own personal need for repentance and reformation when you're dealing with the sins of others.

And fifth, as we attempt to apply Jesus' dictates here, we must remember our own sins and seek to correct in the same way that we would want to be corrected for our sins.

And Jesus is saying this is the attitude that we are to have - be slow to condemn, be quick to forgive, be ready to give, be assured that as you do, God will reward you and this is how He will normally work with you in His providence.