We live in a moral universe. What does that mean? The word moral has to do with right and wrong, with justice and with equity. To live in a moral universe means that there are consequences for everything, and these consequences cannot be escaped. Jesus dwelt considerably on this subject, and it was a major subject of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7:1, 2, Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” This is a very interesting statement. We know that it is true because the Majesty of heaven spoke it. Whatever I dish out to you, that is what is going to come back. You may not give it back to me, but whatever I measure out to you is coming back. This principle not only can have some scary consequences, it can be one of the most exciting things in the world. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies.” If I give out love, even to my enemies, that is what is going to come back. Do you want people to bless you or curse you? “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Ibid. I want to examine this subject as it relates to many different situations in which we find ourselves.
Over the Same Ground
How many blessings have we passed to somebody today? Tomorrow the blessings are going to come back. How many curses have we passed out today? They are going to come back, too. If we have been free to condemn or discourage, we are told what will happen. “Everyone who has been free to condemn or discourage, will in his own experience be brought over the ground where he has caused others to pass; he will feel what they have suffered because of his want of sympathy and tenderness.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 136. If I have been free to condemn or discourage, what is going to happen? I am going to be brought over the same ground.
The same way that I have treated others is going to come back to me. “Oh,” somebody says, “but there are these people who are making so many mistakes. Don’t you think they ought to be corrected?” There is more than one way to correct somebody. The manner that we deal with people who make mistakes, is going to be dealt back to us. An opportunity always comes, for none of us are perfect. We all have to be corrected.
Ellen White stated, “Frequently the truth and facts are to be plainly spoken to the erring, to make them see and feel their error that they may reform. But this should ever be done with pitying tenderness, not with harshness or severity, but considering one’s own weakness, lest he also be tempted. When the one at fault sees and acknowledges his error, then, instead of grieving him, and seeking to make him feel more deeply, comfort should be given.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 93. When somebody recognizes they made a mistake, it is not right to grind it in and add to his burdens. If you have to correct somebody, have you figured out what you are going to do to comfort them when they realize they have made a mistake? People who have erred, and realize they have made a mistake, do not just need corrections, they need comfort. The way I dish it out is the way it is going to come back. When you understand that divine law, you think, “How am I going to deal with this situation? How I deal with this situation, sometime later I am going to be dealt with the same way.”
Ellen White told a woman, “When you see yourself the way God sees you, you’re going to recognize that you are never going to get in the kingdom of heaven unless you have a thorough conversion.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 138–139. That is a sharp rebuke. She went on to point out to this lady, that what she was doing to other people was going to come back. She contrasted the way this lady was dealing with other people with the way Jesus dealt with those that He came in contact with in this world. After saying this to the woman, she says, “Bear in mind that whatever measure you mete to others it shall be meted to you again.” She continues, “If you would do this, [then she mentions three character defects this lady had] you would be more cautious in your speech.” Ibid. Do we need to be more cautious in our speech? Moses one time spoke unadvisedly with his lips and as a result did not go into the Promised Land on that account. James 1:19, 20 says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The first thing Ellen White advised this lady was, “If you would realize that the way you measure out to others is going to come back to you, you would be more cautious in your speech.”
Resentment and Apologies
“Christ came into the world to bring all resistance and authority into subjection to Himself. But He did not claim obedience through the strength of argument or the voice of command; He went about doing good and teaching His followers the things which belonged to their peace. He stirred up no strife, He resented no personal injuries. ” Ibid.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus, when people were spitting on Him, slapping Him, beating Him, cursing at Him, and making base remarks about Him in ridicule and sneer, never responded with one contemptuous or reviling word? Do you know how He could do that? Because He had no resentment inside. “He resented no personal injuries, but met with meek submission the insults, the false accusations, and the cruel scourging of those who hated Him and condemned Him to death. Christ is our example. His life is a practical illustration of His divine teachings. His character is a living exhibition of the way to do good and overcome evil.” Ibid. If we have resentment inside, sooner or later, it is going to come out and then we will have made work, perhaps, for much apologies. The Lord wants to teach us how to live so that we will not have to make the apologies. If we are not harboring any resentment in our heart, those kinds of words do not come out and there is no apology to make.
How are you going to overcome evil? Jesus knew that what you put out comes back and so He just kept sowing and planting the good seed. Many of our problems are caused because we do not know ourselves very well. Inspiration says, “We know but little of our own hearts and have but little sense of our own need of the mercy of God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 246. We do not understand our dire need of the mercy of God, and “this is why we cherish so little of that sweet compassion which Jesus manifested toward us and which we should manifest toward one another.” Ibid.
When we believe that there is somebody else who has some severe character defect, or has done or said something terrible that needs corrected, we need to always remember, that we ourselves are weak, sinful, and erring. We need to be careful that we do not pass judgment on somebody else who may not deserve even what we deserve.
Scene in a Council Meeting
In Matthew 7:3, Jesus talks about judging. He says, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”
This principle is something that can send you and other people toward hell or toward heaven. Whatever you measure out, is going to come back. The devil tempts us to find fault with others. Ellen White had a vision on this very problem, “Last night I was in a sleepless state much of the time. Many representations passed before me. One was a scene in a council meeting where several were present. One man arose and began finding fault with one of his brethren. I looked at the speaker’s garments, and saw that they were very undesirable.
“Another person arose, and began to state his grievance against a fellow laborer. His garments were of another pattern, and they, too, were undesirable. Still another, and another, arose, and uttered words of accusation and condemnation regarding the course of others.
“Everyone had some trouble to speak of, some fault to find with someone else. All were presenting the defects of Christians who are trying to do something in our world. [See these are all Adventists and they are all criticizing each other.] They declared repeatedly that certain ones were neglecting this or that or the other thing, and so on. There was not real order, no polite courtesy, in the meeting. In their anxiety to make others hear, speakers crowded in while others were still talking. Voices were raised, in an effort to make all hear above the din of confusion . . .
“After many had spoken, One of authority appeared, and repeated the words: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ . . . Christ Himself was present. An expression of painfulness came over His countenance as one after another would come forward, with uncouth dress, to expatiate upon the faults of various members of the church.
“Finally the heavenly Visitant arose. So intent were those present on criticizing their brethren, that it was with reluctance that they gave Him opportunity to speak. He declared that the spirit of criticism, of judging one another, was a source of weakness in the church today. Things are spoken that should never find utterance. Everyone who by word of mouth places an obstruction in the way of a fellow Christian has an account to settle with God.
“With earnest solemnity the Speaker declared: ‘The church is made of many minds, each of whom has an individuality. I gave My life in order that men and women, by divine grace, might blend in revealing a perfect pattern of My character, while at the same time retaining their individuality. No one has the right to destroy or submerge the individuality of any other human mind, by uttering words of criticism and faultfinding and condemnation.” Upward Look, 216
A Divine Law for God’s People
We should ask, “How many people have I blessed today by my speech?” Whatever you have said today, someday it is coming back because Jesus said, “With what measure you mete, it will be measured to you again.” Our eternal destiny is determined not by what we profess; it is character that determines it. As I measure out to others, it will be measured back to me. Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me.” When I give bread, He will give to me the Bread of Life. When I give water, He will give to me the Water of Life. When I give to others clothing, He will give to me the garment of His own righteousness. When I visit those who are in prison, He promises to set me free from bondage in the prison house of sin. This is an eternal, divine law that always works, because God has ordained that this is the way the universe is going to operate.
Are you using this divine law so that you will be happy to receive what you measured out? How are you doing in regard to visiting? There should never be a time when a whole week has gone by since you have made your last Christian visit, contacting the sick, or those in prison, or those who are poor, or those who are orphans, or those who are widows, or those who are destitute, or those who are lame, physically or spiritually. There are people all around who are emotionally crippled who will never make it to the kingdom of heaven unless they get help. When you are walking up a mountain trail and there is a great big boulder in the path, you may be able to go over it, but a person on crutches cannot. Somebody needs to help him. Paul talks about the emotionally and spiritually crippled in Hebrews 12:13. He says, “Make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated.”
How to Be Happy to Receive What You Give
In addition to broken homes there are those that come from mixed marriages. As a result of this, we have people who are spiritually and emotionally crippled. It is not an excuse that we do not help one because we cannot help all. I cannot help everybody in the world either, but I can help one, and then another and another.
If every family in your church is making Christian visits every week, you are going to have a church that comes alive. If you have people in your church and all they ever do is come to church once a week and then go home and dissect the sermon and the preacher, you are not going to have a living church. To have a living church, you have to have a working church. Even if you are not trained, you can still get started.
- Can you pray? Can you pray out loud?
- Can you be friendly?
- Can you express sympathy?
Do you know what it means to express sympathy? It means that you are sympathetic to the feelings of other people. You do not have to agree with their feelings, but you can be sympathetic. If you know how to express sympathy, if you know how to be friendly, and if you know how to pray, you can make a Christian visit. If you have a Bible and can read, you can do that, too.
Can He Hold Out
What could happen in Adventist churches if every family, every week, was making at least one Christian visit? Remember, as you measure it will be measured to you again. Sometimes the gospel net is cast out and it gathers in “every kind.” Some of the people who are brought into the church have been the most sinful in the world. That was the way it was in the time of the apostle Paul. (Read 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.) When some great sinner is brought into the church, do you know what happens very often? There is some saint who says something to the effect, “Well, I’m just not sure that he can hold out.” By our passing by on the other side and by our showing coldness and neglect to people who are great sinners; they get discouraged and are lost instead of being saved.
“Often the newly converted soul has fierce conflicts with established habits or with some special form of temptation. Being overcome by some master passion or tendency, he is guilty of indiscretion or actual wrong. The scripture says, ‘Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted’ . . . Unless we cultivate the precious plant of love, we are in danger of becoming narrow, unsympathetic, bigoted and critical, esteeming ourselves to be righteous when we are far from being approved by Christ. Some are uncourteous, abrupt, harsh, these do incalculable harm by their misrepresentation of the loving Saviour.” Pacific Union Recorder, April 10, 1902
So what do you do if somebody comes into the church and they are battling with their old habits and trying to overcome, but they slip and they fall? Have you done these things?
- Have you felt a burden for the one you saw venturing into forbidden paths? Are you burdened for their soul’s salvation?
- Have you kindly admonished him?
- Have you wept for him? Do you really feel for him?
- Have you prayed with him and for him?
- Have you, by tender words and kindly acts, shown him that you love him?
Jesus says if we will forgive, then we will be forgiven. Do you want the Lord to forgive you? If the Lord does not forgive me, I am lost. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. If I want to receive a pardon from my heavenly Father, I must have a forgiving spirit.
As We Forgive
“We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. Wherefore Christ says, ‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ ” Christ’s Object Lessons, 251.
In Historic Adventism today, we are in dire need of a forgiving spirit. “This talking against others must be stopped among those who profess to be the children of God.” Review and Herald, April 26, 1892. What we do to others is going to come back to us again, and therefore, we should be careful how we treat one another.
“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.” James 2:13. If I want God to be merciful to me, I must show mercy to others. When do you have an opportunity to show mercy to somebody? If somebody has done a perfect job, do you need to show them mercy? No. They need mercy when they have blown it. That is what mercy is all about. The next time somebody in your family or somebody where you work messes everything up, that is your chance to show mercy. If you are going to develop a merciful character, you are going to do it now before you get to heaven, because in heaven no one will need mercy.
Since anything that you measure out is going to come back to you, what should you give? Mercy is one thing and love is another. If you are busy giving love, demonstrating the love of God, it may not come back to you immediately, but it is going to come back. It is safe to bless people even if they are cursing you. It is safe to love people even if they are your enemies. It is safe to do something good to people, even if they hate you. It is safe to pray for people even if they despitefully use you and persecute you. “He who loves God must love his brother also.” 1 John 4:21.
“God will deal with us as we deal with one another.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 93. If you have this sentence memorized in your mind, it will help you in your daily life in making decisions.
This principle, “as you measure so it will be measured unto you again” works in every relationship of life. Especially it works in the home and most especially it works in the marriage relation. If we could learn this principle, the great majority of these divorces could be avoided.
Ellen White makes an interesting statement about divorce and it has to do with this principle about measuring to others and getting the same thing back. It is about a man named Victor Johnson. “I was shown that Victor Johnson has truly loved his wife. She was dearer to him than any other one upon the earth. When the divorce was in progress his feelings were intense. He besought his wife to defer the matter. He promised amendment; he promised to not trouble her, but go away and reform. She [his wife] should have eagerly grasped even that feeble hope that it was possible that he might amend. And even if she had to suffer some time longer, given him another chance. There was an error in still pressing matters forward although those engaged in the matter thought they were taking the best course. Yet, they did not exercise the pitying love toward Victor that Jesus has shown them and they should have considered that ‘with what measure ye mete to others, it shall be measured to you again.’ ” Ellen White says she should have given him another chance. “You didn’t show him that same pitying love that Jesus has shown toward you. Remember, as you measure so it will be measured to you again. With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 17, 161. When you apply this law to your life, are you in line to receive a pardon of God? Are you in line to receive blessing and love and forgiveness? You need to keep praying, say, “Lord, help me to measure out what I would want somebody else someday to measure back to me.” The Lord has promised to work that miracle in your life.