4th Sunday after Trinity + Luke 6:36-42 + July 9, 2017

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15

Introit

THE LORD - || is my light and my Salvation; whom | shall | I | fear? | - *
            The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be | a- | fraid?
|| When the wicked | came | a- | gainst | me, *
            My enemies and foes, they stumbled | and | fell. (Psalm 27:1–2)
|| Though an army may en- | camp | a- | gainst | me, *
            My heart shall | not | fear;
|| Though war should | rise | a- | gainst | me, *
            In this I will be con- | fi- | dent.
|| One thing I have desired of the Lord, that | will | I | seek: | - *
            That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of | my | life,
|| For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in | His | pa- | vil- | ion; *
            He shall set me high upon | a | rock. (Psalm 27:3a, 3b–5)
GLORIA PATRI (From Hymnal)
|| The Lord is my light and my Salvation; whom | shall | I | fear? | - *
            The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be | a- | fraid?
|| When the wicked | came | a- | gainst | me, *
            My enemies and foes, they stumbled | and | fell. (Psalm 27:1–2)

Collect for the 4th Sunday after Trinity
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. Amen. 

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

Sermon

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

1)         Today’s gospel lesson is about love. It isn’t about faith. Too many people want to make it about faith when they hear Jesus’ words “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.” The folks that want Jesus to be talking about faith here do so in order to use Jesus’ words as a shield against the slightest suggestion that their beliefs aren’t biblical or their church teaches doctrines contrary to the Scripture. The moment someone says, “That’s not what the Scriptures say,” Luke 6:37 comes out as a protective shield: “You can’t judge my beliefs or my church because Jesus says ‘Judge not.’” The moment a church practice is condemned as being contrary to the gospel, the defense is already on its way: “Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.” But this isn’t what Jesus is talking about here. Not even a little bit. That’s clear from the context. Besides, elsewhere Jesus will command us: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). We are to beware false prophets, those who teach falsely about Christ in the name of Christ. Christ’s apostle Paul writes so that you “note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). In matters of faith, that is, what Christ teaches and what Christ gives to us, we are to be immovable and invincible, not yielding even the slightest bit, so that we do not lose the tiniest bit of the “all things” that Christ tells the apostles to keep in Matthew 28:20. Besides, if God’s Word declares a teacher to be false, then we are only applying the judgment of the Word, not our own judgment. When God’s Word declares that a lifestyle is sinful, or that a church’s teaching or practice is contrary to the gospel, then it is not we who judge and condemn, but the Word. No, this text doesn’t have anything to do with faith.

2)         This text is about love. Love for our neighbor. Love for other flesh and blood human beings with whom we live and work and have our being. Consider Jesus’ words “Judge not, and you shall not be judged” in the context of the rest of the text. After saying that we ought not to judge and condemn, Christ adds, “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.” Jesus isn’t speaking about doctrine and faith. He’s speaking about how we treat one another. We aren’t to judge our neighbor based on our personal opinions of what we think that neighbor ought to be doing. We aren’t to condemn our neighbor when they annoy us and get on our nerves. Instead we are to forgive them for the unintentional slights and forgive them in our hearts even when they intentionally sin against us. This is what Jesus means when He says, “With the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” If you are forgiving of your neighbor’s foibles your neighbor is likely to use that same measure of forgiveness with yours. If you brush aside your neighbor’s blemishes, put the best construction on their behavior, and use the good measure of longsuffering, lovingkindness, and mercy with them, that good measure will be given back to you, “pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

3)         St. Paul says something similar in the final chapter of Galatians. “Brethren,” he writes, “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” (Galatians 6:1-2). If your neighbor is overtaken by sin so that they sin against you (which happens every day because we are all sinners) you are deal with them in a spirit of gentleness, which is one of the fruit of the Spirit. You are not be harsh and vicious with your neighbor when they wrong you, or when you find they have fallen into some sin. Paul adds, “Considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” This goes two ways. First, so that you are not tempted to join in their sin, whatever it may be. Second, and more importantly, that you are not tempted to be rash and demanding with them, imagining yourself better and more righteous than they are. When our neighbor sins against us our first temptation is to become self-righteous. The second is to retaliate and take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This is the natural disposition of the sinful flesh which looks for opportunities to stir up “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions” and the like (Galatians 5:20). Paul says we are to “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We bear the burden of their sin against us in patience. We forgive their sin against us and remember that we have similar sins and weaknesses. Our sins might be different. Our weaknesses might be of a different shade, but they are still sin and weakness. In bearing with each other in such a way we “fulfill the Law of Christ.” The Law of Christ is simply love, for Jesus says in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

4)         This takes us back to the gospel lesson. Jesus wants us to love one another, for when we love our neighbor we aren’t going to judge him for his sins against us. When we love our neighbor we aren’t going to condemn our neighbor. When we love our neighbor we will forgive them, be patient with them, and be gentle with them. Whether the neighbor is a coworker, a family member, a spouse, or the person who pulled out in front of you, nearly causing a wreck, we are to love that fellow sinner and be merciful to them. If we make ourselves better than our neighbor, thinking that we are more righteous than they, then we have become the man in Jesus parable who makes great effort to remove the speck in his brother’s eye all the while he has an entire plank protruding from his own eye. “First remove the plank from your own eye,” Jesus says, “and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye.” That is, acknowledge your own sinfulness and approach your neighbor in that humility, as Paul says, “Considering yourself lest you also be tempted” to hatred and contempt for your neighbor. There’s nothing wrong with confronting your neighbor when he sins against you, but it must be done in gentleness and humility, knowing your own weaknesses and faults. In most cases though it is far better simply to forgive you neighbor from the heart and go about your business.

5)         The humility, patience, and gentleness that is needed in dealing with our neighbor, even loving our neighbor, is not within our own will power or ability. It comes from a humble acknowledgement of what Jesus says at the beginning to the gospel text. “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” If we only consider our neighbor in comparison to ourselves, we will hold our neighbor in contempt, become self-righteous, and show them little to no mercy. But if we consider our neighbor’s sins against us in light of our sins against God our heavenly Father, then we will see our neighbor’s trespasses against us as they truly are: hardly anything at all. We daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:20, “There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” St. Paul writes in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” David, a great saint and ancestor of Christ, says in Psalm 19:12, “Who can understand his errors?” That is, who can know every single one of their sins and understand the exact reason why they did those sins? He also confesses in Psalm 130:3, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” We are no better than our neighbors. We sin against them often as well. But more so than that is the fact that before God we are terrible sinners who deserve wrath, hell, and eternal damnation for our sins of thought, word, and deed, and for the good things that we knew to do but failed to perform.

6)         But God, who is rich in grace, shows mercy to us poor sinners when we repent of our sins and confess them to Him. After saying, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? David goes on, “there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.” After Paul wrote “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” He goes on that all are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith.” That is to say, God justifies sinners when they come to Christ in faith, trusting in His mercy and atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of all their sins. God our heavenly Father demonstrates His gentleness and graciousness with us by sending His only-begotten Son to die upon the cross in order to pay for all our sins of thought, word and deed. Our Father shows us great mercy in preaching this gospel to us and giving us the forgiveness of all our sins in Holy Baptism and His Holy Supper. When we contemplate the depth of our sin according to Ten Commandments, what God forbids and what God requires in each, God shows us our sinful condition and creates humility in our hearts, so that we do not think ourselves righteous apart from Christ in the smallest bit. And when we contemplate God’s mercy to us, that He freely offers His Son Jesus to die our death and bear our condemnation, He creates faith in our hearts that believes the Gospel and rejoices in God’s abundant mercy which covers every sin.

7)         When we consider how much our Lord daily forgives us, we will gladly forgive our neighbor their sins against us. That love for neighbor and forgiveness is a sign to us that we have been forgiven by God Himself. Judge not when your neighbor annoys you. Condemn not when your neighbor sins against you and slights you. Instead, use the good measure of gentleness, longsuffering, and forgiveness with them, for that good measure of mercy is precisely how your heavenly Father deals with you and your sins each day. Though your sins abound, God’s grace superabounds. In mercy He forgives all the sins of everyone who believes the Gospel that in Christ crucified, God is mercy to us poor sinners. Amen.

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
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