Scripture: "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you.” (Luke 6:37-38, ESV)
Observation: In this narrative of Jesus’ ministry, Luke describes the time when He chose, from a larger group of followers, the twelve who would be His disciples. Once He had chosen the twelve, Jesus began the process of training them and preparing them for the ministry they would undertake, once He would return to His Father In heaven. Today’s passage includes some of the many things He taught them as Jesus explained to them what it means to be one of His disciples.
Application: Sometimes we forget that when we are Jesus’ disciples we are His disciples all the time, in all places, and to all people. Nowhere is that more true than at home, with our family, and particularly with our spouse. Today’s text tell us three things we need to practice with our spouse often, if not daily:
1. Do not Judge. One of the most basic problems with communication in marriage is the inability to listen attentively. Many misunderstandings happen when we jump to conclusions. We make a quick decision as to what we think our spouse meant when they did or said something and often don’t even give them the benefit of the doubt. We interpret, often negatively and incorrectly, words or actions and take them as their carelessness, hatefulness, or lack of love toward us. Unfortunately, often both parties are guilty as they both become judgmental of one another, trading barbs every chance they can. Constant judging leads to develop a judgmental attitude which looks for nothing but reason to point the finger and which leads to the second problem - condemnation of the other person. Jesus, instead, teaches us, His disciples, that we need to actively break that judgmental cycle. He urges us - don’t judge and you will not be judged. In fact, as a disciple, even if you are judged, do not respond by being judgmental yourself.
2. Do not Condemn. When the judgmental attitude is fostered, and fed daily by looking at the negative side of the spouse in everything they do, the next step many take is to attack them emotionally, verbally, and at times even physically. Without giving them a chance to explain themselves, their words, or their actions, they are declared guilty and condemned to pay the sentence passed on them. The best solution to this ongoing problem of condemning each other is to be reminded of God’s grace. Since Jesus died for us, we have no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Since Jesus died for our spouse, they have no condemnation either. A disciple of Jesus has bee given God’s grace and must now extend it to his/her spouse. In marriage, instead of condemnation offer grace.
3. Forgive. We know that in every relationship there will be times when we say or do things that are not nice, or kind, or loving. We may judge our spouse. We may even condemn our spouse for what we view as bad or wrong. And the sad thing is that they may be the ones who at some point in time judge us or condemn us through their words or actions. We have the choice to perpetuate the judgements and condemnations and strengthen a negative cycle that will destroy our positive feelings for one another, or we can begin breaking that cycle by forgiving one another.
Jesus recipe to have a good, healthy relationship begins with these three, simple ingredients: Don’t judge, don’t condemn, and instead forgive.
A Prayer You May Say: Father, thank You for extending to us Your love, Your grace, and Your forgiveness. Help us to be as loving, as gracious, and as forgiving toward our spouse that we may have the type of relationship toward one another that reflects the relationship You wants to have with You.
Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.