The Native American Guy A. Zona used a proverb as the memorable title of one of his books, "The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears." Tears do seem to well up in us a deep rainbow of emotions! Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), the Scottish Baptist and Holiness Movement evangelist wrote in "My Utmost for His Highest." "With focused attention and great care, you have to 'work out' what God 'works in' you. Not work to accomplish or earn 'your salvation,' but work it out. You will exhibit the evidence of a life based with unwavering, unshakable faith on the Lord's complete and perfect redemption." That kind of discipleship is the art of "working out what God has worked in." Saint Paul in Philippians 2.13 states it another way, "for it is God who works in you to will and to act to fulfill his good purpose." But what does it mean to be a disciple? How does Jesus intend us to follow Him?✞
Jesus says in Luke 6.36, "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.". The word "merciful" means here "compassionate" or "pitying." Jesus shows that he was merciful in one very moving experience at the tomb of Lazarus. "Jesus wept" as the shortest verse in the Bible is memorable, but also in the way, it shows Jesus' deep emotional feelings. John Vance Cheney (1848–1922) was an American poet who wrote,
"Through gloom and shadow look we
On beyond the years!
The soul would have no rainbow.
Had the eyes no tears."
It reveals Jesus' soul rainbow eyes. At that moment, more than any other, Jesus shows his love for his friend, Lazarus.✞
Jesus, as a carpenter, knew all about removing the sliver from another's eye or hand. As a carpenter, Jesus certainly knew how painful a splinter in the eye was. He had experienced the pain and how it made the eyes water so that he could hardly see. In such a predicament, how on earth could you expect to pick a speck of the same material out of someone else's eye. As recorded in Luke 6.41-42, the carpenter or artisan knew all about removing the teacher's sliver if we would only let him! We read, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you fail to see the plank in your eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Be sure that you have a living faith in a living Lord before you try to tell someone else about it! Jesus said in Luke 6.40, "The student is not above the teacher, but every fully trained person is like their teacher." Be sure that you are not filled with pride and are not doing it for your benefit! Strive to be a disciple like your teacher.✞
Judge Jesus taught his disciples not to pronounce guilt upon others lest they condemn themselves. He teaches us not to point the finger. In Luke 6.37, Judge Jesus developed the thought, "Do not judge, and nobody will judge you. Do not condemn, and nobody will condemn you. Forgive, and people will forgive you." Jesus' words teach us it is not ours to judge whether in the law court or privately. But how easy it is to want to be the judge of others even without knowing it. Maybe, we make up our minds that someone is guilty. The noted Jewish-American trial lawyer Louis Nizer (1902-1994) pointed out, "When a man points the finger at someone else, he should remember that three of his fingers are pointing at himself." When we accuse another, we are in the process of condemning ourselves! Skye Jethani (1976-present), who is an author, speaker, consultant, and ordained pastor, in writing about this passage in "Christianity Today," explained, "the key is recognizing that New Testament writers can use the word "judge" in two different ways. Sometimes 'judge' is used to mean 'judge between things,' to differentiate or discern. In this case, we judge between right and wrong, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous." The act of discernment is not what Jesus is forbidding, but the action of condemning them.✞
With this legal imagery, Judge Jesus saw someone receiving a sentence, and therefore warned his disciples in Luke 6.37b, "Do not condemn, and none will condemn you." His words were much harsher than before. "Do not come down hard upon someone," he was saying! "Don't blame, censure or pronounce guilt upon someone, or God will pronounce guilt upon you!" There is a lovely oriental custom that when someone pays a debt in full, it is signed and then nailed to the doorpost of the one clearing the debt. In this way, anyone passing by can see it. May our forgiveness of others be as complete and as visible as this!✞
Jesus taught his disciples to forgive others to leave a more substantial group of followers. He said in Luke 6.37b, "Forgive, and others will forgive you." To forgive is literally, "Let loose, release, set free" those who have hurt or wronged you. Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931-present), the former South African Anglican cleric and theologian known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, said, "Forgiveness says you get another chance to make a new beginning." But how hard it is to give forgiveness! One particular verse concerning forgiveness in Proverbs 25.22 always baffled me. It read, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." I was puzzled over its meaning for a long time until I read an explanation by an Indian Bishop, Bishop Pillai (1900-1970), in his little book "Light Through an Eastern Window." There, he explained that the Bible reference taught the reader to heap burning coals of fire upon the heads of those who wronged you, and that means to do good to them. How vengeful and unchristian, I first thought! Then I read that it was the custom in an Oriental village and is still practiced in some parts of India today to carry smoldering embers in a piece of pottery on the head from one house to another in the early morning to start everybody's fires. Having a warm pottery piece on one's head was an enjoyable, warming experience for the one who carried it. The inference was that we should first give blessings to those who have wronged us that they might be ashamed and repent and that this was real forgiveness!✞
Jesus gives the Holy Spirit gift to his disciples to leave a more substantial group of followers who would preach the Gospel and serve others. Dr. Algernon Odell Steele, a Professor of Religion in Chicago, wrote in "Spiritual Treasures from the Past" of an old proverb, "Self-preservation is the first law of nature." This principle has been broadened in recent days to encompass another truth, "The first law of nature is self-preservation, the first law of the Spirit is self-sacrifice." Jesus, our teacher, said, "Give to others, and God will give to you." It is the complete opposite of the prevailing philosophy in our western culture, which says, "Get more, and you will be better off. Give, and you will have less!" Perhaps this is the reason for the poverty of spirit in so much of our society. Jesus gave back to the generous-hearted, a full measure, an overflowing helping, all that you can hold in your hands. "Never criticize or condemn, or it will all come back on you. Go easy on others; then, they will do the same for you. It means literally "release, and you shall be released." For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in a full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever amount you use to give, whether large or small, will be used to measure what you receive back." Yes, the larger the spoon that you measure out for others, the larger the one that God will measure out to you!✞
Where do you stand? Do you measure up to the standards set for Jesus' disciples in Luke 6.39, "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they both not fall into a pit?" Beware of the pitfalls that Jesus pinpointed here. One blind man cannot lead another one. If he did, both would tumble into a ditch!✞