Measure by Compassion
As I read the Sermon on the Mount I find myself challenged deeply by the things Jesus says.
In Matthew 7:1-2, He says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
This does not mean that I am to avoid identifying evil as evil or that I should ever sidestep taking appropriate actions to confront evil. Martin Luther King, Jr. correctly comments, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
We must be quick and conscientious to judge evil, but we must be careful about how we judge people. Specifically, I must take to heart that the measure I use in judging others will be the measure that is used in judging me:
If I hope people will be understanding toward me when I have had a bad day, I should keep in mind that the person who is irritating me may be having a bad day.
If I would like others to be sympathetic toward me when I fall on my face and make a fool of myself, I should try to be sympathetic toward others when they fall on their face.
If I want others to give me a second chance when I have messed up, I should be willing to give others a second chance.
If I want people to hear me out before jumping to conclusions about me, I should be willing to listen carefully and thoroughly to what others have to say.
If I hope people will speak respectfully to me and about me, I should be intentional about speaking respectfully to and about others.
If I long for God to handle me with grace and forgiveness, do I dare withhold grace and forgiveness from others?
The “measure” we use makes a difference on the people around us. Dorothy Law Nolte observed the truth of this in the lives of children. She wrote,
“If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight…. If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy…. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience…. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love…. If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness. If children live with fairness, they learn justice….”
The “measure” we use also makes a difference in us. In his book Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning quotes from Anthony DeMello’s book The Way to Love:
“What is indiscriminate compassion? ‘Take a look at a rose. Is it possible for the rose to say, “I’ll offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people”? Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could do that only by ceasing to be a lamp. And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature—even to the one who seeks to cut it down. This is the first quality of compassion—its indiscriminate character.’”
If I hope to be as genuine (as consistent) as a rose or as a lamp or as a shade tree, then I must seek to be genuine (consistent) in my own life. If I hope for compassion to live within me, then it must be something that flows naturally (indiscriminately) from me. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”