‘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, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’
He also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.
Generosity is a quality we admire – no Scrooges here! This passage challenges us to be generous in mind (judgement), heart (forgiveness), and hands (resources).
Which is most challenging?
To be generous in our judgements of others. Not to condemn or criticise – but instead making the effort to understand others and their different experience of the world. The call to be inclusive, intercultural and intergenerational as followers of the Jesus requires such generosity of mind.
To be generous in our forgiveness. Not holding onto hurt and offence. The call to be ministers of reconciliation starts with valuing restoration of relationship in all areas of our lives.
To be generous with our resources. Not saving for our own rainy day but attending to the immediate needs of others. The call to follow Jesus unencumbered is perhaps most difficult for those of us who have much, like the rich young man.
I once cautioned my daughter against giving away all her saved pocket money to a cause that had moved her, suggesting she could give some, rather than all. She confounded me by saying ‘it’s ok Mummy – I know I will be given more next week’. I was confronted with the reality that I do not live with the same measure of faith in God’s provision as she does in mine.
Generosity, Jesus tells us, is a mirror. It reflects back on us. The measure we use is the measure we will receive. We limit what we expect to be the generosity of others. When someone teaches us something or points out a problem or issue we have, do we receive this as a gift of generosity or as a put down, even an attack?
Thank God we can be saved from the meanness of our own minds, hearts and hands, by the overwhelming measure of generosity of God in Christ. Freely we have received – now freely give.
Lord, help us to be true children of our generous Father. You came not to condemn but to save, help us reflect more of your likeness. Help us so live in your abundance that our first impulse is to share. May we love in good measure, being filled to overflowing by your Spirit. Amen.
Dr Sam Richards, Head of URC Children’s and Youth Work, member of mayBe Community – a fresh expression of Church in Oxford.