Difficult Lessons

Published by DonDavidson on

Luke 6:30 says: “Give to everyone who asks of you.”

This particular verse has long bothered me. Everyone? Even the panhandlers on the street corner? They are asking for money. Should I give it to them? What will they do with it? Will they use it to purchase food or shelter? Or will they spend it on drugs or alcohol? And is that really any of my business? After all, Jesus didn’t say “Give to everyone who asks of you, provided they will make good use of the money.” On the other hand, did he really want me to give without thinking? Because he also told us to be “as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves.”[1]

The verses surrounding Luke 6:30 are equally troubling. Jesus tells us to do good to everyone—even our enemies, even those who hate us, pointing out that God is kind to “ungrateful and evil people.”[2] So does that mean we are to be kind to the Russians? To Islamic militants? And are we supposed to be kind to people who insult us and demean us on social media?

Jesus also instructs us to be merciful—rather than judging or condemning, we are to pardon, for we will be judged in the same way that we judge others.[3] Then shall we set free those who commit crimes? Are we not even to judge those who oppose our values?

Our teacher is assigning us some difficult lessons here, and it’s not always clear to me what I should do in any given situation. But I believe Jesus meant what he said. A bit further on in Luke chapter 6 he says: “Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”[4]

To be clear, Jesus is talking to people, not nations. (Those who say that the United States should be a “Christian nation” probably aren’t thinking about America doing the kinds of things Jesus talks about in Luke chapter 6.)

And to be even clearer, he is telling Christians how we should behave, not how we should expect others to behave.

Is Jesus giving us easy answers for all of life’s situations? I think not.

Are his instructions often hard to follow? Absolutely.

Will we mess up when we try to follow them? Frequently.

What seems clear is that Jesus wants us to cultivate an attitude of generosity, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness toward everyone, and then do the best we can. If we do that, I am confident God will also treat us, and judge us, with generosity, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness.

[1]. Matthew 10:16. Paul said something similar in Romans 16:19: “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil.”

[2]. Luke 6:27-28 and 6:31-35

[3]. Luke 6:37-38

[4]. Luke 6:46


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