37 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged;

do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, 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.’

The problem with judgment is that it exists in a world of good, better, best and assumes that it knows the difference.

At the heart of judgment lies the illusion that all human beings share equal freedom to shape their destiny and decide the course of their lives. But we are not all equally equipped with adequate tools for navigating life’s complexities.

When I judge I separate myself from the circumstances or the person I judge.

I have no idea what forces have come into play to make you the person you have become. I cannot begin to imagine the twisted, painful realities behind your actions. I do not understand your biological make-up, your social background, family background, or history.

God alone sees the full circumstances of any human life. And God, in the person of Jesus, says,

Do not judgedo not condemn.

The opposite of judgment is forgiveness. Forgiveness understands that life is deeply mysterious and complex. I never have enough information to make any kind of accurate assessment about your life. So, instead of judging, I choose to start with the freedom of forgiveness that approaches you with openness, respect, and attentiveness to the realities of your life. I am willing to see you as you are and acknowledge that you remain a human being seeking to find your way in life.

Forgiveness means heart-opening to the reality of what is. It does not mean I accept every circumstance. But I do accept that these are the realities of life and I accept you as a person within those realities.

This is the place of abundance that Simon and his fishing partners discovered in Luke 5:6. When I live from abundance, I extend to you the freedom and respect that have a chance of enabling us to live more fully as the people we were created to be. I become more free and, the more freedom I give, the more freedom there is in the world.

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