The coin you use

The coin you use! Let’s say that there was this good ol’ boy who decided to take himself a trip to Europe. People told him to exchange his money when he got there, but he refused. He said, “This is good ol’ American money. Its better than whatever money they have.” He went into a shop and tried to buy a souvenir. They wouldn’t take his money. He called them names and walked out angry. He went into a coffee shop. They wouldn’t take his money. He yelled at them and slammed the door on his way out. He grew more and more belligerent. He began to rant and rave to everyone around him. Everyone avoided him and the coins he used. He couldn’t understand why people in Europe were so unfriendly. I mean why wouldn’t they like a good ol’ boy from America? The coin you use!

              Luke 6:37-38 is all about the coin you use. If judgment is your currency of choice, you will be judged. Jesus begins with two negative statements followed by two positive. Do not judge. The word “judge” means anything from “decide” to “condemn.” In this context Jesus is talking about deciding that people are deserving of judgment; that they are rotten and deserve whatever they may get. If you don’t judge you will not be judged. What? Does he mean that God won’t judge us as long as we don’t judge others? We can commit any other sin as long as we don’t judge? Not at all. Stick with him. The second negative statement is an intensification of the first. Do not condemn. This word is the same as the first word with the preposition that means “against” tacked onto the beginning. Do not judge against. Do not decide someone is unworthy of any kind of grace. Once you condemn a person, no matter what that person may do, it is pulled through your lens of condemnation. When you see them do something good, you will automatically declare their motives are evil. If you don’t condemn you will not be condemned.

              Forgive and you will be forgiven. The word “forgive” means “let go, set free, dismiss.” If your currency is letting go, then letting go will be used toward you. Judgment and condemnation are all about holding on; demanding restitution; wanting to feel like you have been repaid in some way. It is about bitterness. Forgiveness is about freeing yourself from that kind of hatred and anger. And if you are a giving person, it will be given to you. Some suggest the point here is not only forgiving but being generous with money toward those who may deserve your judgment. It seems to me that forgiving people are giving people. What I mean is that when you let go, you are giving up something of yourself. I have a friend whose wife had an affair with his best friend. His sponsor at AA told him that he would need to forgive his ex-wife. Not only did he forgive her but he helped her out financially a couple of times. This is the currency Jesus is talking about.

              In Jesus day, when you bought grain, you would have a belt and a fold in your garment above the belt that would work much like an oversized pocket. In Isaiah 65:6 God told the people he would repay the people into their bosom (the word for this pocket-like fold). Sometimes, when the amount was large, they would hike up their outer garment and the grain was poured into their lap (same word). This may be what we see in Ruth 3:15. Not only will they fill this fold up, but they will press it down and shake it, so that all of the grain shifts together and they will fill it past the rim so that it is pouring over the side. This is about abundance. And then Jesus said that whatever they measure with, that is what will be measured to them. It was common to measure out the grain using the instrument of measurement of the purchaser.

              The point of all this is that what ever coin you use is the coin that will be used with you. What is your currency? What is your instrument of measuring? There is a proverbial truth here. A proverb is not a promise – it is a statement that is generally true. How you deal with people is how people will deal with you. If you are a harsh unyielding person, people will most likely be harsh and unyielding toward you. But Jesus is also saying that whatever currency you use, that is what God will use with you. If forgiveness and giving, then you will experience the abundance of God’s forgiveness and giving. If it is judgment and condemnation then that is what you will receive. I know, God loves everyone. And yes he does. But if you spend your life spewing hatred and condemnation; if that is your currency that you are measuring out from a withered-up heart, then you will be in no condition to receive God’s forgiveness. And no one can stand up to God’s justice and judgment. No one! The coin you use! Let it be forgiveness and giving. Grace, Walter.