Throughout Luke 6 Jesus is describing two different types of people. He describes legalistic people who are eager to follow the letter of the law while completely missing the heart behind the law compared them to people who are living by God’s mercy.
For example, in Luke 6:1-10 we are given two stories that show people getting upset about Jesus doing things on the Sabbath. Jesus’ disciples were gathering some food from the field and Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, and since this was considered work to some they felt Jesus was not properly following the law.
Jesus makes the point, however, that following the law is not really about doing or not doing certain things. The law was given as a way of following God. If you are following the steps given in the law but not following Jesus personally in your life, you are not really following the law. In other words, there are two different measures you can use in life (Luke 6:38).
You can use the measure based on personal merit, or you can use the measure based on God’s mercy. Jesus said in Luke 6:32-38, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. . . . Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. . . . For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
So Luke’s point being made in Luke 6 is that there are two different types of people. There are those who live by God’s grace and there are also those who try to live by their own merit. In Luke 6:37-47, Jesus gives us some questions to ask ourselves so we can know which type of person we are.
What Measure Are You Using Towards People? (Luke 6:37-38)
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.”
If you want to know what measure you are using in your relationship to God, you have to look at what measure you are using against other people. When you read Luke 6:37-38, it almost seems like the opposite of grace. Grace is when we are given a gift we don’t deserve. Jesus’s whole message was that man has utterly failed in obeying the law, especially the heart of the law. Even when our actions are right or motives are usually wrong. Therefore we are unable to earn good things from God. We are unable to earn a relationship with God. We need God’s grace through Jesus Christ. We need to be measured by a different measure.
So when I hear “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,” at first glance it looks like I earn what I get from God by doing good things to people. If I don’t judge, I earn God not judging me. If I don’t condemn, I earn God not condemning me. If I choose to forgive others, I earn God’s forgiveness.
But that is really the opposite message Jesus is teaching us. What Jesus is saying is that when you receive God’s grace you will give grace to others. He’s saying that if you really are no longer depending on your merit but on God’s mercy, you will be merciful to others. Not being judged by God, not being condemned by God, and being forgiven by God are not the rewards I get for being good to other people. Rather, if I have really received God’s grace, which means I will be spared judgment, spared condemnation, and offered forgiveness, then the evidence of this will be shown in how I treat other people, “For the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
In other words, we are saved through faith in Jesus and by his grace. But how do we really know if we have faith in Jesus? You will know if you really have faith in Jesus by the way you live your life. You are not saved by your works but your works prove what you really believe and who you really belong to.
So in Luke 6:37-38, Jesus is saying that if you want to know what measure you are choosing to have God measure you by, then all you need to do is look at the measure you are using towards other people. You can say you believe you are saved by grace, but if you judge other people based upon their merit, you have not really received God’s grace.
The way we treat others reveals the way we want God to treat us. If you treat others based upon what they deserve, you are saying that you want God to treat you based upon what you deserve. If you treat people based on what Christ deserves, then you are saying you want God to treat you based upon what Christ deserves. If you really have grace, it will flow out of you. If no grace is flowing out of you in your relationships with other people, it means there is no grace in you.
What Effect Do You Have on People You Lead? (Luke 6:39-40)
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
How else can we know if we really are putting our faith in Jesus and are no longer relying on our own merit for salvation and blessings? Luke 6:39-40 almost seem like a standalone proverb that teaches us to be careful who we follow.
Certainly this is a good application of this verse. Who you follow will determine who you will become. If you allow yourself to be led by false teachers who are not keeping their eyes on God, they will lead you to the pit they themselves are walking towards.
But in context, this Bible verse has another application. Not only are we to pay attention to the effect our leaders are having on us, we must also pay attention to the effect we are having on those people we are leading. If you want to know whether you are living by grace or by the law, look at the people you are leading and see how they are living.
If a young child is using foul language, has poor manners, and is generally out of control, who do you blame? People usually don’t look at the child with disappointment. Rather, they look to the child’s parents. A young child is simply learning or not learning what the parents are teaching or not teaching. The parents of this child can tell themselves they are good parents, but the behavior of the child will be the true test. Of course children make their own choices, so this example can’t be taken too far. But consistently poor behavior is a parental issue.
Likewise, what we teach others is a reflection of what we believe. If those we lead are legalistic and have no concept of grace, this is a sign we ourselves are not living by God’s grace.
How Do You Judge People? (Luke 6:41-42)
41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Judging others is a narrow road that is easy to fall off on either side. You can say that Christians should never judge, or you can say that Christians should always judge. Both statements are incorrect. Jesus says that Christians should not judge anyone’s motives because we cannot know the heart. He says we should judge ourselves far more often than we judge others. But he also says that once we have judged ourselves, we should help our brothers and sisters see the sin in their own lives. In context, he is says Christians should help other Christians; he is not saying Christians should judge the world.
How you judge others is a test of how you will be judged. If you judge people to condemn them, it means you are not living by grace. But judgment doesn’t have to be to condemn. It can also be done to correct. As Christians we are called to judge others when they are living in unrepentant sin in hopes of correcting them, not to condemn them.
If you judge people to make yourself feel better, you are living by the law. If you judge to make others feel bad about themselves, you are living by the law. If you never judge and you don’t care what your brothers and sisters are doing, then you are missing the heart behind the law. But if you judge those you love with a gentle spirit in the hopes of correcting them and helping them, this is a sign you are living by grace.