Do you measure up?

Do you measure up?

I recently learned that in ancient marketplaces  a merchant would measure out grain by pouring it into one pan of a hanging scale until it swings level with the weighted side.  Shopkeepers who were friendly would give a little extra, letting the pans tilt past the balance point.  So with that in mind read Luke 6:38 which is about judging.  ” 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.

There is a rabbinic parable that gives a good picture of this:

A man worked on a farm for three years.  On the eve of the Day of Atonement, he went to his employer and asked for his wages to take home to his wife and children.

The farm owner said to him, ” I have no money to give you.”

The farm hand protested, “Well, give me some of the crops I’ve helped grow.”

The farmer replied, “I have none!”

The worker cried, “Well then, give me some of the sheep that I’ve helped to raise!”

The farmer shrugged and said that he had nothing he could give him.  So the farm hand gathered up his belongings and went home with a sorrowful heart.  After the holidays the employer came to the farmhand’s house with all of his wages, along with three carts full of extra gifts.  They had dinner together, and as they ate, the farm owner asked, “When I told you I had no money, what did you suspect?”

“I thought you had seen a bargain and used all your cash to buy it, ” the worker replied.

“And what did you think when I said that I had no crops?”

“I thought perhaps they were all leased to others.”

“And what did you think when I said I had no animals?”

“I thought that you may have dedicated them to the Temple.”

The farmer answered him, “It was just this way.  My son wouldn’t study the Scriptures, and the day you came to me, I had rashly dedicated all my possessions to God.  But, just a couple of days ago, I was absolved of my vow so that now I can pay you.   And as for you, just as you have judged me favorably, may the Lord judge you favorably!”

Like the parable above how often do we give people the benefit of the doubt?   How often do we measure the scales, weigh them in their favor instead of thinking the worst?   With the measure you use it will be measured to you.

I am not talking about condoning sin or that we shouldn’t confront sin .   The word ” judge” in Greek and Hebrew means to  discern, decide a court case, pass judgment, or condemn, depending on  it’s context.  Jesus was talking about judging in the sense of condemnation rather than discernment.  We are not to ignore wrongdoing. (1 Corinthians 5:12-13; Matthew 18:15-17, Leviticus 19:17) We can discern outward wrongdoing, but we aren’t qualified to slam down the gavel and declare God’s condemnation on a person as a whole.  We do that by saying, “He or she will never change.”  “There is no hope for them.”…………..and on and on.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 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. (Luke 6:36-38)

Why do we tend to think the worst about others,  making unkind assumptions about other people’s offenses?  Are any of us in such a place that we know the motives of another’s heart?  I recently read that there are groups in Jerusalem that meet regularly to train themselves to measure favorably.  They discuss perceived hurts and brainstormed together to find excuses for behavior that seems unkind.  So here we are, each of us with our thumbs on the scale and often we are completely wrong in how we size others up.  I know what it means to be the victim as well as I know I too have at times been the perpetrator of measuring unfavorably.  How do you measure up?