Red Letter Year: 7/9
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
32 If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 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.
35 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. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
37 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. 38 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.”
This passage is the heart of Luke’s Gospel. Here he gives us what is to be normal, standard kingdom behavior. As we began to see yesterday, Luke reworks Matthew’s material in small, yet significant ways. They both give us the oxymoronic commands to love our enemies and pray for those who harm us. Luke adds to that – do good to those who hate us and bless those who curse us. Matthew tells us to give to those who beg. Luke tells us to give to everyone who begs and he puts the verb in the present tense, so it really means give to everyone and keep on giving to everyone. No limitations on who. No limitations on how much. No limitations on when to stop. Don’t ask for things back that have been stolen (think of the bishop who gives Jean Valjean the candlesticks), lend without expecting to be paid back (try preaching that on Wall St.), and be kind to selfish and ungrateful people.
Why? Why in the world would we do such things? Because these are the things that God does. Therefore, these are the things that are done in God’s kingdom. Throughout this passage, Luke carries the spiritual/attitude focus of Matthew into the language of action. “If you love those who love you…” becomes “if you do good to those who do good to you…” Matthew’s “Do not judge…” carries over and Luke adds “do not condemn…” and “do forgive…” to explain more fully what Jesus means. “Be perfect” (impossible so probably rhetorical) becomes “be compassionate” – quite possible and therefore expected. Luke gives us the full progression from attitude (love), to speech (praying and blessing), to action (do good, lend freely). Such attitudes, speech, and actions are essential characteristics of those who are Jesus’ disciples.
This is the opposite of what we see sometimes, especially from those whose angry voices draw media attention. But that last sentence is really important. The measure we use is the measure used on us. We are to act like God does toward others because God is going to act toward us like we act toward others. That’s worth thinking about for a day. Or a year. Or a lifetime.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.