The Self-Examined Life: Luke 6:37-49




The job of a referee is not a desirable job. They go unnoticed until they make a bad call. So being noticed as a referee is usually not a good thing. I had the distinct displeasure to serve as a referee one afternoon when I was 18 years old. I returned home from college after my first semester and my high school basketball coach asked me if I would be a co-referee for a tournament over break. I gladly accepted. I had been a basketball player for 7 years so I figured that I would be able to pass as a referee. Well, I arrived at the gym and quickly realized that this was going to be a big mistake. I was not going to be the co-referee, but I was going to be the only referee. Things did not go well. I had no idea what I was doing. During one of the games, I allowed things to get so out of hand, that when I actually called a foul. I got applause from both teams. It was an awful experience. After that experience, I have been a lot more generous to referees whenever I watch sporting events. I used to love to blame referees as a player, but when I became a referee I realized how difficult their job was to do. So I learned as the saying goes, “Do not judge a man until you walked a mile in his shoes.”

Unfortunately, like most sports fans, we love to pass blame or judgment on to someone else. It is hard to for the human heart to be sympathetic towards others. Our natural inclination is to judge and to condemn others. For by judging and condemning others, we exalt ourselves in the process. But in our passage this morning, Jesus is demanding a more excellent way. But in order to see the more excellent way, the way of love, we must first examine our own lives. I pray this morning that this text will challenge to live the self-examined life. So to that end, I want to ask you four questions this morning. First question,

I. What are you Seeing?


Look with me in verse 37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Jesus gives as 4 commands here. He gives two of them negatively, and then he gives two of them positively, before applying the principle that gives understanding to both.

We start with the Bible verse that must be taught to every critic of Christianity by our culture. “Judge not, and you will not be judged.” This verse is taken by peoples to imply that people need to mind their own business. “Judge, not,” they say, giving them the freedom to serve the cultural idol of personal autonomy. “I am in control of my own life. So don’t tell me how to live.” The problem with this perspective is that it misses the point in which Jesus is saying. Jesus does not use this verse as a weapon to protect personal autonomy, but rather as a weapon of self-reflection to destroy judgment and condemnation of others. The world says, “Do not judge me,” but Jesus says, “Judge yourself!! Examine how you are treating others. ” Look at the principle, “For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” This is not a New Age idea of cosmic karma which says that the Universe will pay you back for what you do. This is a principle that is established from the very mind of God. We reap what we sow.

The principle is given by the one who is going to judge the living and the dead, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is saying that the same measure you use towards others I will use towards you. Jesus is destroying the idea of personal autonomy for everyone will have to stand before Him as judge. Acts 17:30-31, “30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 2 Tim 4:1, I charge you before God and Christ Jesus, the judge of the living and dead.” And 1 Peter 4:5, “but they (meaning everyone) will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

So knowing that we are all going to be judged by the Supreme Judge, Jesus Christ, we must examine what we are seeing? Are you looking to judge and condemn others? Or are you looking to judge and condemn ourselves? Are you seeing the sins of others or are you seeing are your own sin? Jesus is calling us to a higher ethic than the world. We are called to love in mercy. So how do you apply this principle? Let me give you a small example. Let’s say you come to church and you walk by someone that does not say hello to you. A natural response, “What is wrong with her? What problem does she have with me? I hope she listen to the sermon today.” A response based on this principle, “I wonder why she didn’t say hi to me. Maybe she is having a down day. I have down days. I am sure their days when I am not very friendly. Let me pray for her and see if I can serve her.” Instead of assuming someone else’s motive, we examine our hearts. We give the person the benefit of the doubt. We believe the best about the person rather than the worst. Whenever we are offended we have to fight the natural response, and chose to walk in the Spirit for this is the way of love.

For look at the promises Jesus says positively in this sermon, “forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you.” Do you hear those promises? If you forgive others when they sin against you, God will forgive you. For our extending forgiveness to the one who hurts us is an indication that we understand our own forgiveness. Christians are all sinners, but we are forgiven sinners. We have no right to withhold forgiveness, because God has not withheld his forgiveness to us. But also notice how abundantly the Lord wants to bless His people. Jesus says when we give and it will be given to us. How will be given to us, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be in your lap?” Listen how one scholar describes this process:

The measuring of the corn is a process which is carried out according to an established pattern. The seller crouches on the ground with the measure between his legs. First of all he fills the measure three-quarters full and gives it a good shake with a rotatory motion to make the grains settle down. Then he fills the measure to the top and gives it another shake. Next he presses the corn together strongly with both hands. Finally he heaps it into a cone, tapping it carefully to press the grains together; from time to time he bores a hole in the cone and pours a few more grains into it, until there is literally no more room for a single grain. In this way, the purchaser is guaranteed an absolutely full measure; it cannot hold more.[1]

When we follow God, this is how he blesses us. We are so blessed we cannot hold more. What a sweet promise!!

But before we move to our next point, let’s look at one more aspect of seeing. In verse 41 Jesus continues, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye’, when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” It is easy to see the speck in our brother’s eye. The point is you have to examine yourself first. If we try and help our brother, without examining our own heart, we are hypocrites. It is hypocritical to tell someone that they should watch what they eat, while you are throwing down your third piece of chocolate key lime pie. We have to examine ourselves first. But notice reason why, it is so we can help our brother. First, take the log out of your own eye, and THEN you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. The goal is to be a blessing to your brother, but you cannot be a blessing until you examine your own life first. So Beloved, be careful how you see? Examine your own life, but we examine someone else’s.

Second question,

II. Whom are you Following?

Verse 39, “He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall in a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” This is a profound statement. Jesus will further unpack the meaning of this parable as the sermon continues, but he wants you to ask yourself whom are you following? If you are following someone who is blind, then you will both fall into a pit for the blind cannot lead the blind. So if you do not want to fall into a pit, a black hole, then you better be careful whom you are following? Jesus ultimately wants you to follow Him. Jesus wants all your devotion. He is the only true Guide that will lead you from the pit into eternal paradise.

So whom are you following? Who are the people that your desire to be like? Who are the people that inspire you? Whom are you following? For a disciple will become like his teacher. This is one of reasons why the Scriptures say that teachers will be judged with greater strictness, because they are inevitably creating disciples. This is the why, we want to ground everything we say and do in this church on the Word of God. We do not want to create disciples of our own way of thinking about disciples who live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As Christians, our standard is the Scriptures. So we need to be very wary of any teaching that does not conform to the Word of God. Now, we should be active listeners during sermons, but we need to be active listeners all day. When we watch the news or television, we must listen to see if what is being presented is in line with the Bible. Jesus demands sole devotion. Stated negatively, if one follows a blind teacher than one will become a blind disciple. Stated positively, if one follows the true teacher, Jesus Christ, then one will grow up to maturity in Him. There is really only one option. As parents this should give us pause, our children and youth are being bombarded every day with an Aggressive, Anti-God Theology. This philosophy has seeped into our schools. Our schools do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, but only make Him as one of the many options people can chose to believe. We must be vigilant to teach our children that Jesus Christ is not one of the options, but he is the only option. He is the True Savior. All other Saviors are false. And following people who believe in a false savior, will lead to false disciples. So we must ask ourselves whom are we following?

Third, Self-Examining Question,

III. What are you Treasuring?

Verse 43, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor grapes from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” It is very simply concept. Jesus uses a picture from the natural world. A certain kind of tree bears a certain kind of fruit. A fig tree bears figs, apple trees bear apple trees. The nature of the fruit reveals the nature of the tree. Most of us have probably heard it before that you can judge a tree by its fruit. Jesus applies this clear observation in the natural world to the spiritual life of a person. You can judge a person by their fruit. A good person produces good and an evil person produces evil.

Now remember, Jesus focus is not that you are judging spiritual fruit of someone else, but rather the spiritual fruit of your own life. Jesus is calling you to examine your fruit. And notice the key idea in verse 45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil.” Our fruit will be determined by what we treasure. Let me this this in two ways. First to the Non-Christian, the Bible says that we are all evil because we do not treasure what is ultimately good, God. And since we do not treasure God, but rebel against Him, he punishes us for our sin. The biblical punishment for sin is death and eternal hell. But although we did not treasure God, he treasured us. For God so loved or treasured the world that he gave his one and only sin so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus treasured us so much that he died in our place and God raised him from the dead giving everyone the opportunity for true treasure. So today, if you examine your life and realize that you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, if you turn from your sin and treasure Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will be saved.

Secondly to Christians, the gospel message is not only our entrance in to the Christian life, but it is our sustaining grace for the Christian life. The Holy Spirit says through Paul in his letter to the Galatians 3:1-3, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfect by the flesh?” We are saved by hearing with faith and we are sanctified or made holy by hearing with faith. It comes down to what we treasure. The reason Christians continue to struggle with sin: besetting sins, hidden sins, relational sins, debilitating sins, is because we do not treasure Jesus Christ. The solution to overcoming sin is treasuring the Lord Jesus Christ above all else.

We sin because we value the pleasure from that sin more than we value Jesus Christ. Psalm 37:4, “Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God wants to give us pleasure; our problem is we do not seek after true pleasure. Listen how C.S. Lewis explains this:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[2]
So Christian, never forget your treasure. Matthew 13:44 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” If we are in Christ, we have found the supreme treasure. We have found the pearl of great price. And when we treasure Christ, we produce good things out of the abundance of our treasure-filled heart. So what are you treasuring? Let nothing be more of a greater treasure than Jesus Christ.
So how can we diagnose our own soul to see if there is anything that I am treasuring more than Christ? Jerry Bridges offers 12 questions in his book, “The Bookends of the Christian Life.” I offer them to you:

I am preoccupied with ________.
If only ________, then I would be happy.
I get my sense of significance from ________.
I would protect and preserve ________ at any cost.
I fear losing ________.
The thing that gives me greatest pleasure is ________.
When I lose ________, I get angry, resentful, frustrated, anxious, or depressed.
For me, life depends on ________.
The thing I value more than anything in the world is ________.
When I daydream, my mind goes to________.
The best thing I can think of is ________.
The thing that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning is ________.[3]

What do you treasure more than Christ? He must be our ultimate treasure. Pastor Tim Keller defines an idol as when a good thing becomes the ultimate thing. We can never allow good things, (family, work, church, etc) to become the ultimate thing. We must treasure Jesus Christ as our supreme Treasure. And when we treasure Jesus Christ, we will bear fruit out of the overflow of that Treasure. Treasuring the person and work of Jesus Christ is the fuel for the Christian life. How else are we going to do all that God asks of us unless we meditate on the gospel? We deserved eternal punishment in hell and God sent Jesus Christ to die on our behalf. His blood was shed over your soul. Treasure that!!!

Fourth Question to examine your heart -

IV. Where are you Building?


Jesus finishes his sermon with a practical appeal for action. Verse 46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hearts my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Jesus has just laid out his ethic of love. He calls to love their enemies, be merciful, judge not, forgive, help their brothers, and treasure good things. So Jesus decides to finish his sermon with a call to obedience.

He says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” Jesus is saying that He cannot be your Lord if you do not follow his words. You call Him Lord, but do not follow Him so you are saying that He is not your Lord by your actions. This is why the self-examined life is so important. We may say we want to obey Jesus, but if we never examine our lives we may never know if we are actually obeying Jesus. It is so easy to fall into a routine and allow complacency to overtake our souls. Look at the fruit of obedience. Verse 47, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like.” Three things happen in this verse: people come to Jesus, they hear His Words and they follow His words. There is the Christian life. We come to Jesus and hear His Words and do what he says. And when we do, we will be like man, who dug down deep and built his house the Rock.

My hope is built on nothing less / Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness / I dare not trust the sweetest frame, / But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

His Oath, His Covenant, His blood, / Support me in the whelming flood; / When all around my soul gives way, / He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.

Believers that treasure Jesus Christ will not be shaken during the great storms of life, for they have built well, on the Rock solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man that built his house on the ground with no foundation. When the flood came, the house fell and it was utterly destroyed. Jesus is showing that there really are only two options: Stand in the flood or be destroyed. The decision is yours. Beloved, do not be deceived, calling him Lord without doing what he says is no lordship at all. Following Jesus requires us to examine our lives. We must make sure that we are not deceived in believing that Jesus Christ is our Lord when we do not do what He says. The question is not whether Jesus Christ is Lord? But rather are you living as if he is your Lord? Everyone will bow their knee to Jesus Christ as Lord. The call that God gives in Jesus Christ is to bow willingly and serve Him as Lord.

The aged bishop, Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John and bishop of Smyrna, honored the Roman authorities under whom he lived—until they asked for more honor than he gave to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The following is a paraphrased version of the Christian historian Eusebius’s (History of the Church, IV, 15) account of Polycarp’s final hours:

“Are you Polycarp?” the Roman proconsul asked.

“Yes.”

“Swear to Rome, and I will set you free. Execrate Christ!”

“For eighty-six years,” replied Polycarp, “I have been his servant, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?”

“I have wild beasts,” said the proconsul. “I shall throw you to them if you don’t change your attitude.”

“Call them,” replied the saint. “We cannot change our attitude if it means a change from better to worse.”

“If you make light of the beasts,” retorted the governor, “I’ll have you destroyed by fire, unless you change your attitude.”

Polycarp answered: “The fire you threaten burns for a time and is soon extinguished. There is a fire you know nothing about—the fire of the judgment to come and of eternal punishment, the fire reserved for the ungodly. But why do you hesitate? Do what you want.”

The proconsul was amazed, and sent the crier to stand in the middle of the arena and announce three times: “Polycarp has confessed that he is a Christian.” The crowd roared in unison that Polycarp must be burned alive.

When the wood was laid around his feet, Polycarp prayed:

O Father of thy beloved and blessed Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we have come to know thee, the God of angels and powers and all creation, and of the whole family of the righteous who live in thy presence; I bless thee for counting me worthy of this day and hour, that in the number of the martyrs I may partake of Christ’s cup, to the resurrection of eternal life of both soul and body in the imperishability that is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Upon his “Amen,” the pyre was lighted and Polycarp gave up his life in submission to the governing authority—after submitting himself to his chief Governing Authority.[4]

Polycarp served Jesus Christ as Lord. The storm of death came upon him and he was not shaken, because he had dug deep and built his house on the Rock. Serve Jesus Christ as Lord. Build your house on the Rock.




[1] Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke Volume 1: 1:1–9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (607–608). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
[2] Lewis, C.S. The Weight of Glory. 
[3] Bridges, Jerry. The Bookends of the Christian Life.
[4] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Vol. 6: Romans. Holman New Testament Commentary (403–404). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Steven Brazzell

Charlotte, NC