Pardon, and You Will be Pardoned

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned;  pardon, and you will be pardoned.

Luke 6:37 is probably one of the most well known verses in the Bible. At least the first three words are. Many people use it to judge and condemn others that they accuse of being judgmental.

The problem, to put it bluntly, is a common desire for us to poke our nose into other people’s business.
As the Reformist John Calvin puts it, “This vice is attended by some strange enjoyment: for there is hardly any person who is not tickled with the desire of inquiring into other people’s faults.” (Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries, Kindle Edition, loc. 294499)

Our Messiah warns against this. It is tempting to watch the news and see what is happening in the latest scandal. But we shouldn’t be gleeful when we find someone caught in their sin.

The Compact Bible Commentary puts this a lot simpler. 

“The point of this verse is that the Christian should not have a spirit of carping criticism and fault-finding.” (Compact Bible Commentary, 2004, Thomas Nelson, pg. 671)

It’s true that there may be times when we have to call out a brother or sister for their sin. Scripture has a way to do this that shows respect and discretion by approaching the person on-on-one in order to correct them. Only when correction is refused does it escalate within the community, and never in a public forum involving unbelievers (Matthew 18:15-18).

But instead of seeking out faults in others, we’re called to a higher road. Instead of judging and condemning, we should try to pardon when we can. Pardon, and you will be pardoned.

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines pardon in this verse as releasing a debtor. To not press one’s claim against him.

We are meant to pardon freely when we can. To give up our right to repayment for the offenses another has committed against us.

This falls in line with Matthew 6:14-15:

“14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Here it’s made clear that our willingness to forgive others is a sign that we’ve been forgiven. If we refuse to forgive then we have no forgiveness from our Father.

What is forgiveness? What does it mean to you?

It humbled me when I looked up this word. I always thought I knew it’s meaning but this really surprised me.

According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, forgive in this verse means to let go, give up, a debt by not demanding it.

This is a valid debt. It’s something legitimately owed. It’s something that belongs to someone and they have every right to claim it.

But, instead, they simply give up that right. For little or even no reason, they decide not to pursue the justice due them.

When we ask friends and family for forgiveness, we’re admitting we owe them something, but we’re simply asking them give up that claim over us.

With that in mind, we should use the words “forgive me” with a lot more care. It shouldn’t be a flippant phrase that comes out of our mouth with little thought. We should consider carefully what claim we’re asking someone to give up on our behalf. 

Imagine a dinner party with 20 of your closest friends. Appetizers, drinks, dinners, desserts, the food is ordered without any concern.

When the waitress presents a very large tab, you look at her and say, “Can you excuse us from paying this bill?”

That’s what we’re doing when we ask someone to forgive us. For whatever reason, we are throwing ourselves on their mercy.

And it’s what we’re commanded to do.

Matthew 5:24 says we need to make things right with our brothers before we come before G-d to seek His forgiveness. This is the way to keep peace and unity in the community. 

Since we’re asking them to release us from a real debt that we owe, we seek forgiveness with humility, sorrow and regret for the wrong committed. We match the request of the tax collector of Luke 18 who cast his eyes down, beat his breast and simply said, “G-d, be merciful to me, the sinner.” 

Not only are we commanded to seek forgiveness from others but also from Adonai.

The prayer that Yeshua taught His disciples asks G-d to forgive us from our trespasses. He is ready and willing to abundantly forgive a penitent heart. He delights in the turning of the wicked towards His path. 

Walking free in the pardon from Adonai brings a peace to our lives knowing that we are not under the condemnation of death. This is what we have asked G-d to take away. It is the bill we have asked him to annul.

And He has taken away the payment of death that we owe Him. That was done through the death of His Son, Yeshua. Since the payment had to be made (not all debts can simply be wiped clean) our Messiah gave His life for us.

The Bible marks this as the greatest love. Laying down your life for another so that they may live.
But to continue receiving G-d’s forgiveness, we must practice forgiving others. This is not to place a condition or work on our salvation. It is a foundational act for a true follower of the Way. One who loves Adonai will forgive.

A mark of all true believers is that we show love for each other. While laying down one’s life for another is the greatest way to show love, forgiving freely is a consistent and obvious way to demonstrate love to others in our community.

This shows the world that we are united in our Savior and committed to each other. It builds up the ekklesia and brings a testimony to a dark world in need of repentance and forgiveness.

As we enter the Ten Days of Awe, let us reflect on acts of forgiveness. Freely we have been forgiven, freely we should forgive.

Blessed are You, O L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who pardons us by the death of Your Son, Yeshua, so that we might have life everlasting.

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The Parable of the Seed

Mark 4:26-29
26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 But when the crop permits, he immediately  puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

This short illustration feels like the most basic of all parables that Yeshua taught. It’s so simple that there’s not a whole lot written about this in the commentaries. But it’s intended to bring out a truth about the Kingdom of G-d.

The Kingdom of G-d refers collectively to G-d’s elect. The one’s who have been brought into His family by the redemptive work of His Son, Yeshua. Matthew 7:21 tells us that only those who do the will of the Father can enter this Kingdom.

When saying the “Kingdom of G-d” in the parable of the seed, Yeshua is not speaking about heaven but about the role of Adonai and His disciples in expanding the Kingdom.

Both have a part to play. We, as his disciples, are expected to go into the world and carry the Good News of our Messiah – that He has paid the price to redeem us. He has freed us from the bondage and condemnation of the law and allowed us to walk in His ways clothed in His righteousness.

We are called to live our lives in such a way as to be witnesses of His work.

Adonai, on the other hand, provides His Spirit that draws and convicts man of sin. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:7 that it is G-d alone who causes the saints to grow in their faith. He provides faith for the elect using the seed that we plant.

The man here is a farmer who faithfully sows the seeds into the soil… and then goes to bed.

In other words, he carries on with his normal life while expecting the seed to do what it was made to do, grow and bear fruit.

He’s at a loss to explain how this happens. He doesn’t water it. He doesn’t pull weeds. He doesn’t spray the bugs. (This place sound like heaven!)

He just goes to bed.

He gets up.

Why does he do this?

Because there’s nothing else he can do.

Again in 1 Corinthians 3:7, Paul has planted, Apollos has watered but it is G-d alone who can bring the increase.

The sower watches the field and he sees the seed start to sprout. It grows and develops into a plant in the same type as the seed that was planted.

Crops need to grow before they can reproduce. They need to mature and be healthy. And that is the ultimate purpose of each believer. To further the Kingdom of G-d by helping other disciples reach the point of sowing more seed. To fulfill the final commandment given by Yeshua before He ascended into the heavens.

“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

There are many different ways of filling this mitzvot. It’s more than being the preacher at the pulpit every service. It can be the singer and songwriter recording godly hymns. It can be the children’s teacher instructing the next generation. It can be a missionary doctor flying into a foreign country. It can be someone who takes time to listen to the worries of a coworker and explain about the One who can carry their burdens.

There are many different ways we can plant and water the precious seed in order to develop disciples for our Creator.

If we’re going to sow the seed and expect to make disciples for Yeshua, then it has to be what was planted in us. It has to be the same Word of G-d that brought us to salvation. We cannot expect a harvest of like-minded disciples if we cast out bad seed. That doesn’t work.

You can’t plant an apple tree and get lemons from it. And you certainly can’t make lemonade out of what you find on that tree!

If you plant false theology then your going to get followers of a false doctrine. And while HaShem may mercifully guide them into the right way, you will be held accountable for your teachings (James 3:1).

A plant doesn’t grow for its own sake. It grows in order to multiply and bear more seed. At the creation of the world, G-d commanded the vegetation, plants, and fruit trees to bear fruit after their own kind with seed in them. The purpose of a plant is to multiply.

Finally the seed has grown and matured. It is harvest time and ready for collection. Now the sower quickly prepares for action, He has patiently waited and watched the fields but now moves immediately into the harvest.

The sower now becomes a worker in the harvest field. He is faithful to the end. He not only planted the seed but he has made himself available for the final effort.

In Matthew 9:35-38, Yeshua travels over Israel and almost despairs at what He finds. “The harvest is plentiful,” He tells His disciples, “but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

May Adonai send out workers into the field. And may He use each of us to expand His kingdom.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who gives the increase so a plentiful harvest may be collected, and provides workers to gather the harvest for His Kingdom.