It seems today that everyone has a strong opinion about nearly everything.
— People are willing to fight and be arrested over wearing a mask on an airplane.
— Parents have their children carry protest signs in public demonstrations.
— Everyone seems to have an opinion about COVID or politics or big tech.
If you think American in 2021 has multiple reasons for arguments, consider the era when Jesus lived.
— The peace of Rome came through the brutal treatment of subjected populations. Around the time of Jesus’ birth, Rome crucified 3,000 Jews in a rebellion not far from his hometown.
— Taxes were so severe that they caused widespread hunger among the poor classes.
— Because of infant mortality, hunger, and illness the average lifespan was under 40.
— There were so many slaves in the Roman Empire that it was said that it couldn’t function without them.
Was there reason to complain and condemn the leaders who structured society to their advantage at the expense of average humans? Yes indeed!
Jesus Is Our Example
Jesus challenges his followers to respond to painful events in a way that reflects the new life we have in him.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.
“A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6.37-38)
If anyone had a right to judge or condemn others, it was Jesus. If anyone could speak about being oppressed and wronged, it was Jesus.
Isaiah described Jesus’ response to the greatest wrong in history.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53.7)
Every day presents opportunities to complain, judge, and offer negative opinions. Jesus challenges us to live a life like his.
— We can be silent, when tempted to judge.
— We can keep our mouth shut, when we want to condemn.
— We can absorb the hurt of an offense and offer forgiveness instead.
Whatever we give will be given to us. Let’s make sure we give to others words and actions like those of Jesus.
Who Are You Following?
There is an astounding number of voices that compete for our attention. Jesus has an important caution for us, concerning those voices.
“Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?
“A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher” (Luke 6.39-40).
We become like the people we follow. Dallas Willard, Henry Blackaby, Richard Foster, Glenn Clark, Frank Laubauch, and a few more Christian leaders have been used by God to shape how I think and behave.
All of these authors inspired me to live a what Dallas Willard calls a “Jesus-kind-of-life.”
Who are you following? Do the “voices” in your life make you want to live like Jesus or merely hold a particular opinion.
Let’s make sure that we do not follow leaders into the pit.
Jesus concluded his teaching with a probing insight into human nature.
“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
“Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye?
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye” (Luke 6.41-42).
I often refer to myself as a “speck inspector.” More times than I’d like to admit, I feel qualified to point out problems with another person’s character or motives.
At the same time, I am not aware of my own character defects. No doubt, I need to follow Jesus’ example of being silent and non-critical of others.
Possibly, you can identify with me in this regard, too.
I hope these thoughts spur you to desire to imitate the attitudes and actions of Jesus. Let’s pray for one another, as we seek to follow our Lord at this time in history.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy adds many insights and our dialogue is designed to help listeners better understand and apply the passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.