Context, people, context!!
Today in Luke 6 I came across two verses that are often quoted but not necessarily given their full meaning based on their context. There’s so much more to see here!
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you” (verse 31 NLT).
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (verse 38).
Jesus is teaching his disciples a few life lessons. Both of these verses are found within the context of how we are to treat our enemies!! Read them again in their context, and you’ll see what I mean:
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back“ (verses 27-38).
Doesn’t the context add a much deeper meaning to these verses? Jesus isn’t only speaking about the people we like, or regularly get along with well. He’s talking about our enemies.
I hope that you are already in some way involved in compassion ministry . . . feeding or clothing the poor, giving financially when there is a need you are able to alleviate, providing foster care for children who need a home, bringing light to those in prison, volunteering as an after school tutor for underprivileged students, or something else along those lines. Things like this are expected of us as followers of Christ (read Matthew 25:31-46).
But how are we when it comes to our enemies? Are we just as willing to lend a hand or shell out some money when they find themselves in need? If so, that’s where the golden credit is found! We will be showing the compassion of our Heavenly Father to a world that desperately needs him.
“Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (verse 35-36).
So this is how we are to treat our enemies: in love, blessing them, doing good to/for them, praying for them, respond to their requests, treating them the way we want to be treated, forgiving them without judgment or condemnation, and giving to them when needed.
I sat at my desk this morning thinking of my enemies. I honestly couldn’t think of a single one, until God reminded me of my driving. Oh, dear! I get behind the wheel, and suddenly it’s me against the world. Everyone’s out to cut me off and make my life miserable! At least that’s the way I see it if I’m not careful about my perspective. What would happen if I actually chose to give way, let people in front of me, and not try to get back at people who are probably just not paying attention (instead of thinking they’re all out to get me)? I think it would have a huge impact on my mental state!! My giving would result in my receiving. My peace would come not necessarily from other drivers, but from God himself.
What is one specific way that you could “up your game” when it comes to treating your “enemies” well?
The following verses always confused me, until this morning when I put them in context:
“Then Jesus gave the following illustration: Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher” (verses 39-40).
We are someone’s example to follow. Will we show them the selfless love of Christ in how we treat others, or will they learn the selfish love that claws and fights for our “rights” here on earth?
Who is watching you and learning from you how to interact with and respond to others?
I live near houses that were built close to the ocean, but not right on the beach. Over time, erosion from storms and high tides has moved the beach closer and closer, until some of these houses are in danger of collapse. At the time this picture was taken in 2010, the home’s kitchen had already fallen to the beach below.
With this example nearby, Jesus’s words make that much more sense!
“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins” (verses 46-49).
The choice of where to build our foundation belongs to us. Will we do as Christ says and really love our enemies? No, it’s not easy! But He has given us his Spirit to empower us for the impossible. Not only will our spiritual house stand firm, we will be rewarded by our Father in Heaven. We may see that reward here on earth, or we may see it when we see his face, but either way, it will be a golden credit on our account! The reward will make all of our sacrifices worth it.
Are you willing to dig deep and build on the solid Rock of Christ and his teachings? It is possible, with his help. Ask him to strengthen you with his Spirit, and rest in his promises as you obey his leading in your life today.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.