Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Mark 4:24-25)
St Mark has Jesus offering the wisdom “with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you…” If you are kind, forgiving, patient, merciful, you will receive the same back again. If you criticize others, complain about them, accuse them and judge them, expect to receive the same back again. It is another version of the wisdom, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31).
St Basil the Great commenting on Christ’s wisdom of how to treat other people distinguishes between reproaching others or rebuking and reproofing others. Rebuking a sinner is an effort to help that person become a better human being by pointing out their fault and then positively offering a corrective. Reproaching another, in Basil’s terminology, on the other hand, is an effort to embarrass, shame or disgrace a person in front of others. Reproaching offers the person no positive corrective but aims at humiliating them. The measure you give is the measure you will get from the Lord.
Indeed, not even the sinner ought to be reproached, according to what is written: Do not reproach a man who is turning away from sin [Sirach 8:5]. Nor have we ever known of a case when reproach benefited the sinner. For in his instruction to his disciple Timothy, the Apostle turned to rebuke and encouragement and reproof, but nowhere did he resort to reproach as if it were contrary to these. And it seems that while rebuking has the goal of correcting the sinner, reproach is meant to disgrace the fallen sinner. Now as for reproaching poverty, low birth, ignorance, or physical disability, that is utterly irrational and alien to the virtuous man. For whatever we did not choose to happen to us is involuntary. And in the case of involuntary disadvantages, it is appropriate to show mercy to the unfortunate rather than to mistreat them. (ON CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE, p 98)
St Basil is also clear that it is absolutely wrong to reproach someone for aspects of their life they didn’t choose – their gender, race, class, education, physical disabilities, place of birth, ancestry, their genetics or nationality, IQ or personality. Rather than shun a person for these traits, rather than drawing attention to them to criticize or mock, rather than judging them for these characteristics, St Basil says the right reaction to them is always mercy and compassion. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Mistreating them is always wrong in Basil’s ethics.