This is the Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity -- July 13, 2014 at

Shaped by the Cross Lutheran Church
Laurie, Missouri



Luke 6:36-42

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

And He also spoke a parable to them: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or 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.”

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity                                                                                                                                                                                                     07/13/14

Forrest Gump was Right


My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Forrest Gump was right. He was basically a moron - intellectually challenged by almost everything in the world. He was too stupid to be dishonest. He wasn’t bright enough to know that he couldn’t do things, so he went ahead and did them. He was faithful and consistent and pleased with the simple things of life. His creators viewed all of those qualities as retarded. We wasn’t bright enough to be unfaithful, too challenged to make a promise he would not keep, too slow or too thick to abandon his friends. By placing all of those qualities in the mentally challenged Forrest, they were saying something about decency - and about everyone else who thinks they are so very clever. What they were saying about either of those things was not nice. True, at least in part, but not nice.

Forrest Gump said a number of things - “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” That is true, life is not always what we expect. Most of what he said was proverbially true. The one saying I thought of as I read the Gospel text was “Stupid is as stupid does.” Basically, Forrest was saying that you live out what or who you really are. Jesus says pretty much the same thing in our text, and couples it with some promises. I want to take you through that gospel lesson, this morning, with the theme “Forrest Gump was right.”

Jesus did not say in our Gospel that what you do determines things, but what you do that reveals who and what you are. People in the movie would ask Forrest, “What, are you stupid?” And Forrest would answer, “My Momma always said, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’” For Forrest, stupid was not so much a state of being as a behavior. You aren’t stupid if you don’t act stupid. He proved the point by being successful in almost everything he did while those who were supposedly ‘smart’ around him made stupid choices and made messes of their lives, and ended up being rescued, often more than once, by stupid old Forrest.

The words of Jesus tell us that the conduct of a Christian flows out of who they are. It doesn’t cause them to be who they are, but it reflects their true nature.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” If your Father is merciful, you are too. If you are not merciful, then your father is not the merciful Father. Jesus says it like a command, and yet we know that these things are not possible for us by our own devices, and are given to us by God. So what Jesus is saying here is that the true child of the merciful heavenly Father is like that merciful Father, merciful.

And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” This is more of that ‘the child of God is as the child of God does’ stuff. Forrest Gump was right. He wasn’t original with these thoughts, but he was right. Now, if you look at what Jesus says, and read it simply, it sounds like Jesus is saying that if you do not judge, then you will not be judged, as though your refraining from judgment causes God to not judge you. Just the opposite is true, if you go about judging others, then you force God to judge you, too.

It’s that forgiveness thing. Jesus is indicating that he who is forgiven is also forgiving - just like the one who is forgiven much loves much. If you actually understand your own sin, and know the grace of God in forgiving you, and believe it, you will forgive others too. It isn’t just that you should, but you will. It doesn’t come naturally, however.

Natural for us is sin. Natural for us is selfish and angry and violent. Forgiveness is the grace of God, and it works in us to produce the same fruit from us - but our flesh is always going to be pulling us toward the sinful side. We will be tempted to judge another, to condemn others. It will seem natural and just and right and good to us. It will feel right. But it is not grace. Judging and condemning others repudiates the grace of God toward us, and calls it wrong, and so God returns our rejection of His grace with justice and judgement and condemnation. So Jesus warns us not to listen to the flesh. Pardon, he says, and you shall be pardoned. It isn’t our forgiveness that causes or merits His forgiveness, but it is what happens when someone trusts God and believes what He has done.

It works the same in stewardship. “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” This is “Christian is as Christian does”. Forrest Gump was right. We are all recipients of such rich blessings and abundant goodness. If you know it, and believe it, and believe it is aimed at you personally, how could you be anything else?

God gives, and He gives abundantly. He doesn’t wait for us to be good and generous. He gives to us as Jesus describes it - good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over! What do you need that God does not supply? I am sure you can name things you want, or that you think it would be nice to have, but what needs do you have that aren’t answered - and more!? We live in the richest nation in history, and at the time of greatest wealth. We have such abundance we cannot afford to scrimp and hoard and save. We have just too much for that! There is a multi-billion dollar industry in providing extra, off-site storage for our excess possessions. We dispose of perfectly good things, serviceable stuff, simply to upgrade to the next generation or the newer model, or the latest thing!

God doesn’t wait for us to be abundant to us, and when we know that, and believe His goodness to us is no accident, but flowing from His great love for us, we know we can afford to be similarly generous. Where we see the need, we can give, so that our abundance fills in the need of others, just as the abundance of mercy in God filled in our need for salvation and hope.

Jesus doesn’t say what to give to. He just says, “Give.” It might be stewardship toward the congregation, or giving to a fellow-member of the congregation who is in need. It might be a neighbor who is in need, or the poor, or the sick, or a mission field somewhere. When you see the need, you should also be aware of the supply - God’s abundance towards you - and be able and willing, even eager - to give.

Grasping and greedy are natural to us human beings, but our greed in the face of the grace and generosity of God towards us repudiates His goodness and abundant blessing, and denies by our behavior the thought - the doctrine - that He will provide and He will take care of us. If you tell God you don’t expect any good from Him, He will deal with you according to your faith and give you what you expect from Him - or withhold from you, as you expect Him to do. But if you live in expectation of His marvelous supply, He always does provide – sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Jesus tells us that God will deal with us as we expect Him to - Forrest Gump was right. “For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

The second half of the Gospel lesson simply illustrates what Jesus said in the first half. Jesus spoke a parable. He talked about a blind guide. What sort of parable is that? The only point of comparison is blindness. In order to navigate around the obstacles, one needs to be able to see them somehow.

Who are the blind? The answer is, we are. We are spiritually blind and dead, and enemies of God by nature. We need a guide if we are going to find our way at all. Human wisdom, on the other hand, is all on the same plane. It is all blind. A human guide cannot improve our wisdom because a human guide can only make us as wise as he is - and he is born just as dead to God and blind to holiness as we are. Stupid is as stupid does.A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

Our teacher, our guide is Christ. He taught us love - in that He loved the world so much that He gave Himself for our salvation. He set the pattern and gave us an example while He rescued us from sin. He gave it all - suffering and dying in our place and enduring what we deserved so that we might have what we do not deserve, but so deeply need. He died for us: He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again. Give and it shall be given to you.

He did not judge us. He knew us in our guilt and sin, and although He possessed both the right and the power to judge and condemn us, He did not, but gave Himself for us that we might have forgiveness life and salvation. Our judgment was handed down on Good Friday. Jesus was condemned, and Jesus was executed for our transgressions! Your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake! He who is holy and pure endured not just our sins, but took them onto Himself and bore the righteous wrath of God against us in His flesh so that we would not.

And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or 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.

How can we look at another and see their sins against us, which are truly minor? If we consider our own sins against Christ, the log must blind us to the dust-specks of others sins against us. If we can hope in Christ for the log to be forgiven, and thereby removed, what other course can make sense to us than to remove the mote from our brother’s eye by the cleansing washing of forgiveness? Forgiven is as forgiven does! Forrest Gump was right.

Jesus said it in another way, perhaps more directly, after He taught us the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” What do you have, after all, that wasn’t given to you? Give freely, then. Forgive freely, then. Follow the guide who can see, and whose leadership is true, that is to say, Jesus Christ.

Again, what Jesus calls on us for in this text is not possible by our own powers and nature. It is, however, His gift to us, through the cross and by the power of the Word and Sacraments. But while we live, our flesh will always see things differently, and will try to draw us to what seems right and good to it, but does not follow Christ. So, Jesus gives us guidance and warning, and His teaching sounds to my ear a lot like the message repeated by Forrest Gump - another one that the world considers retarded. Stupid is as stupid does - and Christian is as Christ has done! Forrest Gump - adjusted a little for our consideration this morning - was right!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

(Let the people say Amen)


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