Trinity IV - St. Luke 6:36-42 - June 28, 2015

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn# 395 O God, Thou Faithful God
Hymn #324 Jesus Sinners Doth Receive
Hymn #262 A Mighty Fortress

Isaiah 58:6-12
Romans 8:18-23
St. Luke 6:36-42


Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Thy governance, that Thy Church may joyfully serve Thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.


1)         Our Lord teaches us today about good works of mercy that we are practice for the sake of our neighbor. He says, Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Christ gives us three general works of mercy in these verses. First He tells us that we are not to judge our neighbor and condemn him. This means that we are not to believe ourselves to be holier or more pious than others when we see them sinning but rather that we are pray for their repentance. We are not to judge our neighbor or condemn then when they sin against us but we are to be ready and willing to forgive them graciously. Most times this means that we let sins go, that we do not hold sins against our neighbor and that we don’t hold a grudge, but quickly forgive and forget their slight against us. There are times, however, where we must confront our neighbor because of their sin. Jesus tells us this in Matthew 18:15 when He says, Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. Some today want this text to mean that we can never confront our neighbor about their sin and that we should merely tolerate it. But there are times when our neighbor sins against us that we need to confront them about it. When those times arise we are not to do it with an air of judgment or condemnation. We are instead to confront our neighbor about his sins against us with gentleness and respect, with humility of heart, lest we fall into a greater sin of thinking ourselves holier and more pious than our neighbor. So we are speak carefully with our neighbor, lovingly to them when they sin against us. We all have beams and planks in our own eyes. Jesus wants us to be aware of that, that we too are great sinners with many grave sins. With that in mind we will confront our neighbors in their sins against us with much more gentleness than we would otherwise.

2)         One more thing about these words, Judge not, and you shall not be judged, Jesus is not saying that we ought never pass judgment on sin and that that we ought to tolerate the sins of those around us. If we have an office in which such judgment is necessary. God has ordained the state to judge lawbreakers. We ought never take that office into our hands through vigilantism, or even through speaking against those whom the state is judging. God has also instituted His Office of the Ministry to judge sinners. He does this in John 20:23, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. To retain sins is surely to judge them as sinful, wrong, and condemned before God. The preacher does this in the confessional as well as from the pulpit every week and in pastoral care when necessary. The pastor is the called under-shepherd who cares for Christ’s flock by preaching them the condemning Law as well as the Gospel. So it within the preachers divinely-instituted office to judge sin as well as forgive sin. Finally, the Lord has instituted the office of parent. Mothers and fathers are a divinely-instituted Office by which the Lord wants children to be raised, disciplined for their good and taught the Christian faith. It is well within a parent’s right to judge and condemn their children’s behavior or thinking if it is wrong, destructive, or unchristian. So we see that there are instances in which the Christian is to judge the actions and condemn the sins of others. But in those instances, the Christian does so in the stead and by the command of Christ, so it is not the person doing it, but Christ, since the person is in a divinely instituted Office.

3)         Neither is the Christian to be so unloving as to let his neighbor plow into sin or live publically in sin if he can help it. If you see your neighbor sinning, it is not judging or condemning to admonish them to repent of their sin. It would be unloving to let your neighbor heap more and more wrath upon himself in his sin while you say nothing. So we can and ought to speak the truth in love to our neighbor who sins, privately against us, and publically where everyone can see the sin. So we can tell our homosexual friends that their lifestyle is a grave sin which separates them from the Lord. Yet we do so with the gentleness of admitting that we too have many sins for which we daily deserve punishment, yet we repent and strive against our sins, trusting Christ’s atonement for our sins. We can tell our children and family members that they ought not to be cohabiting together without marriage and that this displeases God. But we do not in vitriolic rage but with humility, knowing that we have often sinned against our own spouses and against the divine institution of marriage in thought, word, and deed. We are to confront our friends and loved ones in any public sin, that is, any sin that anyone can see with their eyes, not for the sake of judging and condemning them, but out of love for them that they too may repent and believe the Gospel. This also means that we do not broadcast the sins of others to the world or others but that we cover their sins and put the best construction on their reputation as we have opportunity.

4)         This is surely a most difficult thing to do. Our sinful flesh is so easily puffed up with pride. Hubris lives in our bones. Self-justification comes naturally to us so that we see ourselves as better than others. Self-righteousness flares up so quickly in our flesh that we think of our sins as small and tiny compared to the sins of others. This is why St. Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:3 that the Christian is not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. This is also what the Apostle says in Galatians 6:1-3 when He writes, Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. The sinful flesh thinks itself better than our neighbor. It’s worse than that though. The sinful flesh that clings to us thinks of our neighbor as insignificant, as nothing, as someone so far below our help and concern. This must be fought in us daily because we have our sinful nature with us until the day we die. Instead we are mortify and cut off the desire to think of ourselves more highly than we are, and cultivate a true love for neighbor which looks for the welfare of our neighbor and his good in all things.

5)         If we look back to our text Jesus tells us two other good works that we are to do out of love for our neighbor. The next is, Forgive and you will be forgiven. Not only are we not to judge or condemn our neighbor when he sins against us, but we are to be ready and willing to forgive our neighbor, though he sin against us seventy times seven times. The Christian must always fight the sinful desire to hold grudges and hang onto past offenses of their neighbor. Because of the weakness of our flesh we often do this. This is why Christ have us the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We are not praying that He forgives us the way we forgive other people. That would make Christ’s forgiveness of our sins contingent upon the way we forgive others, and make our forgiveness something we earn with the work of forgiving our neighbor. Rather this is a sign Christ gives to us that our sins have been forgiven, when we forgive others. The Christian ought to daily consider his own sins in light of the Ten Commandments, according to what the commandments prohibit and require of us. When we daily see our sins, their number and their magnitude, AND the gracious forgiveness Christ offers us each day through the Gospel, we will be more and more willing each day to gladly forgive those who sin against us.

6)         The third good work Christ commands us is, Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. When we see our neighbor in need we are to give to them what we are able. With this command Jesus gives us the promise that the measure which we use for others, it will be used for us. In fact the measure he promises in return is an illegal measure, one that is not only measured out but pressed down and shaken together to fit more into the jar, and then running over. It is a generous measure that our Lord promises to those who give generously. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 the same thing. He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

7)         These good works Christ commands His Christians to do are all rooted in the heavenly Father’s mercy. Today’s reading began with the words, Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. These good works of ours do not come from our own flesh but from the mercy that our heavenly Father has so graciously shown to us. Be merciful as your Father in also is merciful. How is the Father merciful to us? By giving His Only-Begotten Son to us to bear our sin and be our savior. He is merciful to us by not judging us for our sins but instead judging Christ on the cross for all our sins. He is merciful to us be forgiving us whenever we confess our sins to Him. He is merciful to us by giving us all good things with good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment, both temporal and eternal. But God’s love for us in Jesus Christ is infinitely deeper than our guilt and His sacrifice is larger than our sins. God the Father has shown us incredible mercy and continues to show us incredible mercy in Christ Jesus. That is why we love our neighbor and be merciful to them: because of God’s rich mercy to us which He gives us in Jesus Christ. Amen.

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