June 15, 2008 - The 4th Sunday after Trinity

Today's Reading: Luke 6:36-42

Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 15:1-29; John 15:12-27

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. These could very well be words of Jesus that are most well known by those inside and outside the church. It seems that whenever a discussion of sin comes up, especially when it's one person pointing out another person's sin, the cry goes out: “Judge not!” Is Jesus telling us to ignore sin and never to speak against evil? If you only read these words you might think so. But understood in their context they are a call to love and forgive others as we have been loved and forgiven by Christ.

First of all, God DOES judge sins. He condemns and damns them. He judges and condemns sin on the cross, upon His Son. If you ever think that God doesn't judge sins, then just take a look at what happened to Jesus and remember: That's what YOU had coming. But Jesus stepped into your place and took that judgment for you. That's the Gospel: that you are no longer judged by God for your sins. Jesus is. That's what your Baptism means: The penalty for your sins was paid by your Savior.

But there is a proper and right time for judging. In the realm of the Law and our daily callings, we may have to judge others. Parents judge their children when they are doing wrong. Pastors judge God's people when they fall into sins, so that they might repent. Bosses judge employees. The government judges criminals. In our daily callings, we are often called to judge others, to distinguish between right and wrong and to execute punishment or dish out consequences.

But before the Lord, in the matter of our everlasting salvation and being worthy of God's love, there is NO judgment. You can't say that you are more deserving of God's love than some other person. You aren't. You can't say that someone deserves to be punished more than you. They don't. You can't say that you are more holy or righteous than some other person. You aren't. Rather, learn to believe and confess that, apart from Christ, we are all equally damned. Believe and confess that in Christ, all of our sins are forgiven and God's judgment against our sins is no more. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Grant, O Lord, we implore You, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Your governance, that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 4)