24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides.
25 “For whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”
Be careful what you listen to. Skilled orators are good and working up a crowd. A great weapon in the hands of a skilled orator is fear of others. If a blog or a YouTube video or a Facebook post can skillfully roast the Repugnant Cultural Other, the author or speaker can expect a lot of clicks and kudos.
But Jesus said “Be careful what you listen to”. Tremendous hatred and intolerance can be whipped up in the echo chamber and wisdom sometimes dictates that we simply turn it off.
Politicians depend on the hatred and fear of their base against the “others”. Pastors build large churches by preaching “boldly” against the “others” who aren’t even there. Columnists and bloggers and radio hosts build great followings by reviling the “stupid” ones that vote the other way, act the other way, eat the other foods, speak the other language, have the other experiences…
And Jesus tells his followers “Take care what you listen to”.
Why? Because every single one of us needs far more grace and forgiveness and healing than we can even imagine. The cancer in each one of us will destroy us if God doesn’t come down to us and save us. We will die if he doesn’t pull us out of the miry pit. And all of us are in the same corruption, with the same great need, with the same desperation, under the same sentence.
All of us are the “other”. All of us are the “outsider”. All of us are hopelessly lost, unless God act.
So Jesus says that what measure we use will be measured to us again. So be careful what you listen to.
The yardstick that you use to judge your gay neighbor will be the one used on you.
The yardstick that you use to judge your liberal friend will be used on you.
The frenzy and rage that you feel after a particular rousing session with your favorite radio host will be turned against you.
The fury ignited after a podcast host tells you whom to fear will be turned on you.
If you judge by the law, the law will be used on you.
The scales that you used when you measured the worth of the single mother using food stamps to buy groceries will be used on you.
The envy that consumed you with the thought of the rich man, and the contempt at the plight of the poor man will be used on you.
Do you really want to be judged by your possessions?
Do you really want to be judged by your choices?
Do you really want to be judged by your financial situation? Your past experiences? Your weaknesses? Your physical health?
The contemptuous eye that you turned on the divorced women will be turned on you.
The sneer that you gave the man who didn’t dress or act the way you thought he should have will be given to you.
The person in the wheelchair, the one plagued by distressing mental illness, the chronic pain sufferer – do you not know that the Lord of Life can take away your health in a moment?
I, for one, wish only to be measured by the astounding grace of the Lord Jesus, for I am a great sinner. And I wish that all who I meet be measured by that same grace. I long to rejoice around the throne of the Lamb with all of you, if only you will accept that grace and lay down the weapons.
But, of course, since I am a great sinner, I also must check my heart continually.
“Lord have mercy on me, a great sinner. Teach me to look with compassion, to look for your image, to listen to that which is beautiful.”
This is a continual theme throughout scripture, and should cause us to pause and think about how we treat the others.
“He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered.” (Prov. 21:13)
“Judgment will be without mercy to those who showed no mercy” (James 2:13)
Condemnation, contempt, reviling and fear are popular and entertaining tools for the talk show, the radio, the podcast and the blog, but the end of the road is hell.
Be careful what you listen to. And be careful how you measure another.