Last time, we saw Jesus introduce the Golden Rule as a practical guideline for living lives that honor God, and faithfully witness His Gospel to unbelievers. Then we thoroughly examined the first of Jesus’ practical illustrations of how we may apply the Golden Rule by not judging others. We spent considerable time exploring Luke 6:37 because it is often abused effectively by those who wish to continue in sin to silence Christians who seek to warn them of God’s coming judgment against their sin.
Now Jesus gives another practical application of the Golden Rule…
Luke 6:38-42 (Matt. 7:1-5)38Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” 39And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:38Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
This is a favorite verse for those wolves in sheep’s clothing whose main desire is to “fleece the flock.” When such charlatans urge folks to give so that they may receive back in greater abundance, they mean that folks should give to them. This is clearly not the giving Jesus is talking about. Jesus encourages us to give to those who are in need. The televangelists who ask us to “dig down deep” are usually not in danger of missing any lunches.
Furthermore, when these thieves promise that those who give to them will receive abundantly in return, they universally speak of the riches of this world, which are also clearly not what Jesus is talking about. The rewards Jesus teaches of are spiritual and eternal, not material and temporary.
The tragedy of this false prosperity teaching is two-fold. First, when the promised material rewards do not arrive, the people who were taken in, may become bitter, not toward the false prophets, or their own gullibility, but toward God Himself for allowing such a thing. The faith of many is destroyed by such misuse, and in their bitterness they are less likely to find the narrow gate to salvation in the true Gospel of Jesus. Furthermore, the false teachers risk missing salvation in Christ themselves.
Matthew 7:21-2321“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
So exactly what is Jesus teaching here in verse 38? Once again, we need to place the verse in its context – specific examples of how we must live out the Golden Rule.
When we find ourselves in need, we feel immensely blessed by those who come alongside us to give of themselves. This blessing certainly isn’t limited to giving of physical resources. It may be simply sharing time in fellowship with someone who is lonely, or offering prayer for someone who is sick or fearful.
The nature of our giving is governed by two factors. The first is our ability. We can only give to others those things – e.g. material resources, time, and talents – which God has given to us. We must be careful, though, to give of our best, not just our cast-offs.
Second, our giving must be governed by the need of the recipient. The critical need of most people is to hear the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Without the gift of sharing this Good News, any other practical gift we might offer is irrelevant. If we spend time visiting a lost person in the hospital, but don’t share the Gospel with them, we have squandered both our own precious time and theirs. Yet we must also remember, that giving to meet the practical needs of both the lost and the saved is important too.
James 2:15-1615If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
If we offer folks practical help along with sharing the Gospel, we serve not only their most important need – to hear how they may be forgiven, cleansed, and made heirs of the Kingdom, but by our practical help, we may give them respite from worry and stress in which they may consider the Gospel they have heard, and hopefully call upon the Name of Jesus for salvation.
If we are careful to give with a true heart of love expecting nothing in return, and no honor from men, it is well pleasing to God.
Matthew 6:1-41“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
As we’ve seen, false teachers misinterpret Luke 6:38 to promise earthly material rewards for our giving. But the actual reward that Jesus promises is far greater – inheritance of the kingdom of God.
Matthew 25:31-4031“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’37“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
We need to be really careful with this teaching. Taken in isolation, this passage might tempt us to make it the foundation of a false, works-based Gospel. If it were possible for our works to save us, Jesus’ birth, death on the cross in our place, and resurrection would have been unnecessary. Yet we know that this plan of salvation was conceived in the mind of God before the beginning, and is the only means of salvation.
Acts 4:10-12 (Peter speaking before the Sanhedrin after healing a lame beggar in the Name of Jesus)10let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ [Psalm 118:22]12Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
We must be careful to consider Matthew 25:31-40 in the larger context of the full counsel of God’s Word. When we do so, we clearly find that our works are powerless to save us. The “righteous” who Jesus refers to here have no righteousness of their own which could earn salvation.
Isaiah 64:6But we are all like an unclean thing,And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;We all fade as a leaf,And our iniquities, like the wind,Have taken us away.
Saving righteousness is imputed to us by Jesus’ blood alone!
Isaiah 61:10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,My soul shall be joyful in my God;For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Romans 10:10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 3:21-2621But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Indeed, our good works will be judged, and those who give will be rewarded, but this is not a matter of our salvation.
2 Corinthians 5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
1 Corinthians 3:11-1511For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Our good works are not the source of our salvation, but the result.
James 2:18But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Having given us two specific examples of how we may apply His Golden Rule, Jesus now continues His so-called Sermon on the Mount with a condemnation of hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy within the body of Christ is perhaps the largest single factor that drives people to shun the Gospel. The word ὑποκριτής hypokritēs (hypocrite), Jesus uses in Luke 6:42 means actor or pretender – i.e. someone who attempts to be something s/he is not. Jesus used the word (usually the plural) no less than 20 times in the gospel accounts. Even given that these books overlap somewhat, it’s obvious that Jesus despises hypocrisy. Frequently, we don’t even recognize our own hypocrisy. Therefore, Jesus often compared it to blindness as we see in the next few verses of Luke 6.
Luke 6:3939And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?
Of course, the blindness Jesus is speaking of here is spiritual and intellectual, rather than physical. He proved time and again His supernatural power to heal physical blindness, but those who are spiritually and intellectually blind must be healed by God’s Spirit. Before He can do that healing, we must respond to His conviction of sin and humble ourselves before Him.
Revelation 3:14-1814“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
Jesus frequently used the metaphor of blind guides to warn about false teachers who don’t know the Truth themselves and so lead others astray. In Matthew’s account Jesus links this saying with an admonition against the teachings of the Pharisees, after they complained to Him about His disciples not washing their hands before eating in accordance with their tradition.
Matthew 15:7-147Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:8‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,And honor Me with their lips,But their heart is far from Me.9And in vain they worship Me,Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” [Isaiah 29:13]10When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”12Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”13But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
Luke 6:4040A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
Here in Luke, this saying of Jesus seems frankly disconnected from the surrounding context. The reference goes back to Jesus’ blessing on those who are hated for His Name’s sake and to His calling of the twelve apostles earlier in Luke 6:22-23. In Matthew the context is much clearer – the sending out of the twelve to proclaim the Gospel, which we will look at more closely when it comes up in Luke’s account a little later. It is actually a word of encouragement wrapped in a warning about persecutions to come.
Matthew 10:16-2616“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.21“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.24“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.