some systems of interpretation of the Bible this passage is to be harmonized
with the Sermon on the Mount. It seems somehow undignified for Christ to
repeat himself (which, of course, he did – for example, every time he
encountered the Pharisees). Is it not much more likely that his message was
the same in different places, tailored to the ears of the hearers? As such,
this passage can stand alone – and be of great benefit to our ears too.
Paradox of Wealth
Jesus came down with them and stood on a level
place; and there was a large crowd of
His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and
the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed
of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being
cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from
Him and healing them all. And turning
His gaze toward His disciples, He began
to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours
is the kingdom of God. "Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you,
and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. "Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your
reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the
prophets. "But woe to you who are rich, for
you are receiving your comfort in full. "Woe
to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for
you shall mourn and weep. "Woe to you when all men speak
well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same
(Luke 6:17-26 NASB)
as God’s favor
Bible sometimes seems to be very ambivalent towards wealth. For example, we
can see this attitude in Proverbs:
is said to be given by God.
is said to be a blessing given to the righteous.
if wealth be condemned, how can we reconcile that with Paul’s instructions
on what the wealthy are to do with their money?
we see the common opinion of the time of Christ: wealth is the visible sign of
God’s favor upon you.
seen as wickedness
course, this wealth can be looked at as the result of evil.
condemns the wealthy in no uncertain terms, and warns of their imminent
are told that ill-gotten wealth will somehow wind up in the hands of the
generous – who will distribute it.
riches pursued by evil means are said to be a mist, a vapor.
how do we reconcile these views?
reliance on riches
key seems to be this: place no reliance on wealth; it is not to be trusted
for your security.
particular, we are not to “weary” ourselves about riches – it’s not worth
very good reason for that: they are of no use on the Day of Wrath.
When our Lord returns, does it matter what’s in your checking account?
Perhaps he will look at how you spent it instead!
why, then, do riches have such a bad reputation? Part of this must be our envy
of the rich; there is also a sound basis as well. The question is not how
much money you have but how much you love it. As Paul tells us, the love of
money is the root of much evil.
much else, we must reach a balance point if we are to do as God desires. We
are in the world but not of the world, and our attitude towards wealth should
need to realize that wealth is not as important as some other things –
such as harmony in the family.
need to remember the lesson of the Rich Young Ruler
- that sometimes our money gets between us and God.
we must recognize that God wants us to have the right amount of wealth
suitable for us – and we should desire this as well.
having tackled the subject of wealth and happiness (and undoubtedly dismayed
many of his hearers) goes on to tackle the common problem of vengefulness – the
burning desire to justify ourselves, to get even, to pay back the wrongs we’ve
been done. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, and for us to take vengeance is
to steal from Him. What, then, are we to do?
"But I say to you who hear, love
your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse
you, pray for those who mistreat you. "Whoever
hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your
coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes
away what is yours, do not demand it back. "Treat
others the same way you want them to treat you. "If
you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. "If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit
to you? For even sinners do the same. "If
you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners
lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. "But love
your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your
reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is
kind to ungrateful and evil men. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "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. They will pour
into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by
your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
(Luke 6:27-38 NASB)
passage, at first glance, makes no sense. Look what Christ is telling you to
do for (not to!) your enemies:
the realm of physical things you are to do good to those who hate you.
This does have the advantage of being completely unexpected. It will
puzzle them mightily. It’s just that it puzzles us too. But it is
commanded, so we had best get to it.
the realm of things spoken, we are to bless them. This also sounds hard,
but consider: how many people are genuinely so evil that you cannot find
something good to say about them, or something to praise in their
conduct? The evil in others is quick to be seen; the good may take some
this: of all things the strangest, that we should go before the throne of
grace, to the ruler of all things, the Creator Himself, and intercede on
will be surprised how effective that last one is. God hears it so seldom that
he is quick to reward it. But we would be of angelic virtue if we failed to
ask – “WHY?”
you would do such a thing
can, perhaps, see the virtue of forgiving our enemies after we thrash them into
submission. It feels good to have your enemy begging for mercy, and even
better to think yourself magnanimous for granting it. But why would you do this
in any other circumstance?
it distinguishes you from those who are of the world. The world says you
should look out for number one. Such people, even being evil, are quite
capable of doing good things for their friends. It often happens that such
good deeds are also profitable for the doer – eventually. The trap is this:
because you bless your friends, you think you’re being righteous. But you’re
not. You’re being ordinary.
understands that this will be strange to you – so he promises to reward you for
it. You might think that this would be sufficient; but look around and see
just how often you find Christians loving their enemies. Why?
have so stressed that Jesus is “just like us” (in that he is human) that
we don’t think he will reward us.
have made Jesus into “our buddy” – and therefore we do not believe that he
can reward us.
classify his promise under “pie in the sky” and go about our daily business of
paying back who we can, when we can. Do not be deceived in this; Christ meant
what he said. Indeed, it is worse than that for us.
is just. The way we treat others (including our enemies) is the way he plans
on treating us. If we are in payback mode, then he will see to it that we are
paid back for all the evil done by us to our enemies – no matter how righteous
we thought we were. Indeed, he extends the principle here:
applies to judgment and condemnation, too. Often our enemies are so
powerful (or impersonal) that we have no power to repay them. But our
hearts can judge and condemn them! Remember, it’s our yardstick.
same applies to pardon, as well. If we will not pardon, if we will not be
merciful, why should God be? It is no use saying, “they deserved it.”
Likely enough they did. Do you want what you deserve – from the hands of
Almighty God? Or were you looking for mercy?
so you will know he expects more than lip service, notice how he extends
this principle to giving! It is not just to our friends, but indeed to
our enemies that we are to be charitable.
Imitation of Christ
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. "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. "For there is no good
tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which
produces good fruit. "For each tree is
known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they
pick grapes from a briar bush. "The good
man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the
out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that
which fills his heart. "Why do you call Me,
'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? "Everyone
who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is
like: he is like a man building a house, who dug
deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent
burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well
built. "But the one who has heard and has
not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any
foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and
the ruin of that house was great."
(Luke 6:39-49 NASB)
puts it to us this way: suppose you were looking for a teacher to provide you
with wisdom for your life. What would you look for?
you were blind, you wouldn’t want a guide dog that was blind, would you?
No, you’d want a dog that could see well and was obedient to its training.
if you want wisdom for living, would you pick a pompous hypocrite (usually
with a Ph. D.)? Often the jargon is a cover for the lack of real
experience in wisdom.
cannot forbear a story. When I was much younger, I was a teacher at Beverly Hills High School. I had a student in one of my classes whose behavior was not
satisfactory; I had to take significant action to correct this. He told me
that his dad was a big man in Beverly Hills, and I’d be hearing from him. Sure
enough, the next day there was a message to call Mr. Bigshot.
took six telephone operators to get through to him; when I got there I was
convinced that here was a man of power. He asked me to tell him my side of
things. I began to spew forth the jargon taught in education classes, hoping
to impress him with my knowledge as a teacher. It didn’t work. He listened
patiently for a few moments, then interrupted me with: “Excuse me, but what
you really mean is that the kid is too big for his britches, right?”
sir, that’s exactly what I mean.”
thought so; I’ll take care of it.” He did, too!
you wouldn’t pick someone to teach you wisdom whose life didn’t show it.
When you were young, you probably had a football or baseball hero. Nobody
picks their hero from the second string on the bench. How much more
should you pick your example for life?
course, the message is clear: do you pick the pious hypocrite or the living
no good selecting a teacher and example unless you do what you are taught. We
rightly look at those who proclaim Jesus as Lord but live as if he didn’t exist
as being hypocrites. The key, however, is to look at ourselves and ask if we
aren’t guilty of the same things.
no mistake: the rains will come. If you proclaim yourself a follower of Jesus
Christ, the test will happen. Things will arise which will make your
Christianity very inconvenient. If you give up and give in, the next phase is
the flood – the time of trial which reveals that you really didn’t mean what
you said. Your life will crumble, and all will see it.
often we think we shall escape this; it is not so. He told us that by our
fruits men will know us. They will also know us when the flood waters rise.