Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is one of the most misunderstood in the Bible.
"Judge not, and y0u shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven."
Many people today use these words to defend their bad conduct, especially when sex is involved. When someone has another woman besides his wife, or a young woman is sleeping with her boyfriend, they say, "This is my decision, you can not judge me."
Of course, when someone steals from others in their homes, abusing the old, or when someone kills a young person in the streets, no one says, "It is not for us to judge these people." That would be absurd. It is not the sense of our text to forbid distinguishing good from evil.
The point of our text is to think about our reasons for criticizing others. We should not have this attitude, I have the right to judge others because I am holier or more righteous. We should not say that another person does not deserve the love of God, or should be condemned.
The Eighth Commandment says, "Do not tell lies to the detriment of your neighbor." The catechism says, "What does this mean? We must fear and love God so that we do not lie against our neighbor, betray him, slander him, defame him, but apologize for him, speak well of him and interpret everything in the best sense. "
Therefore, our priority when we hear something bad about our neighbor in is not to rely on rumors, but to protect his reputation. Nonoe of us want others to talk badly about us, so we do not speak badly about others without evidence. The fulfillment of God's will is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
When we have evidence that our neighbor has fallen into sin, the Bible says we must first talk to him privately, not to condemn him, but to persuade him to return to the right path. On the other side, when sin is public, when it is not a secret, we can publicly say that it is not right, for example, when there are young people dying in the streets.
In extreme cases, when a church member is living openly in sin and does not want to repent and change his or her life, the church must take action and exclude him from the fellowship of the saints. Not to bring about his condemnation, but to warn that a change is necessary.
We must do everything in love of our neighbor. As the first verse of our text says, "Be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." And then, "For with the same measure that you shall measure, it shall be measured unto you again."
The same Law applies to all; Also the same Gospel. For us, the gospel is that we are saved not by our own works, but by the blood of Christ. In baptism we are washed from our sins, not only by water, also the blood shed on the cross.
In Christ, God first loved us, so our response is to show God's love to others. We should not seek revenge, but reconciliation with our neighbors.
"Why do you look at the straw that is in the eye of your brother, and the beam that is in your own eye do not you consider?" Let us search within our own hearts and repent of our own sins. Then we seek reconciliation with others to live in harmony. In this, because of Christ, we will have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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