Lately I've been exploring Hebraic parallelism within the Greek text of the synoptic gospels and the most recent seven-fold parallelism I've been pondering has challenged me in the area of giving mercy.
Read in the traditional way, Luke 6:36-38 is powerful enough in itself, but when read as a Hebraic *synonymous parallelism, this scripture passage takes on new life...raising the bar on how we are to give mercy. (A synonymous parallelism being the repetition of one thought in different but synonymous, or equivalent, words)
In the following passage we do not have seven separate instructions, rather, we have one instruction given in seven synonymous sentences...each sentence giving greater insight and detail about what it means to be merciful.
Be merciful | just as your Father is merciful.
Do not judge| and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn | and you will not be condemned.
Forgive | and you will be forgiven.
Give | and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over | will be poured into your lap.
For with the measure you use | it will be measured out to you.
Our instruction - (seven equivalent phrases)
Be merciful = Do not judge = Do not condemn = Forgive = Give = A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over = the measure you use
What we receive from God - (seven equivalent phrases)
your Heavenly Father is merciful = you will not be judged = you will not be condemned = you will be forgiven = it will be given to you = will be poured in your lap = it will be measured out to you
When read the traditional way, the good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over describes what we receive, but when read as a synonymous parallellism...then the good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over not only describes what we receive...it also describes the type of mercy we are to give.
I now have a powerful, concrete image of what the mercy Jesus asks me to give to others looks like...it is a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
May he help me today to honor his words with my actions.
edited to add: Understanding, "Do not judge" as part of a synonymous parallelism clears up much of the confusion over what it means to not judge. Seeing, "do not judge," as synonymous with, "be merciful" shows that "not judging" isn't the absence of the recognizing sin in someones life...but it is the presence of mercy in light of that sin.
* Frequent uses of parallelism occur in Jesus' teaching. For more information on Synonymous Parallelism see: Cataloging the New Testament's Hebraisms: Part 5 (Parallelism) - http://blog.jerusalemperspective.com...es/000139.html
For more on the topic of "judging favorably" I would highly recommend Lois Tverberg's book, "Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus" (chapter 8 Taking My Thumb off the Scale) http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Dust-R.../dp/0310284201
Lois also has articles about judging favorably on En Gedi Resource Center website, http://www.egrc.net/