For Giving

May 10, 2008 • Category: Gospel of Luke
by Keith Phillips

Today’s scripture: (ESV-text and audio) (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Keith Phillips):

Sometimes God has surprises even for me! This one verse of Scripture was such a surprise.

I like to think that I know lots of stuff about the Bible, but I didn’t know this verse was here. I’m much more acquainted with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) than with his Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49). They’re pretty much the same, even though they’re said to be preached in different places, and, obviously, the version in Matthew is a lot longer. And… surprisingly, this verse in Luke has no parallel verse in Matthew.

More importantly, I didn’t know that! Not that the verse is unfamiliar. I must have heard it, or used it, in a hundred annual stewardship messages. It ranks right up there with Malachi 3:10 (”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…”). Both proclaim that wonderful principle that we can’t outgive God. “Give and it will be given to you… for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

The problem is that the context surrounding this verse in Luke has to do with judging and forgiving. I figured, “Well, this verse is used somewhere else in the gospels in a stewardship context.” Nope! I couldn’t find the verse anywhere else in Jesus’ teachings. So, I guess that means all those stewardship messages were wrong. In context, this verse doesn’t relate to stewardship and financial giving, but rather it really relates to extending grace and forgiveness.

Or, just maybe there’s an understanding of this verse broader than its context, and my obsession on context. Just maybe I could allow the Holy Spirit to speak in or out of context any way the Spirit desires to speak. The verse is a universal truth that’s comprehensive; it includes forgiveness and stewardship and so much more. What we give, we will receive, no matter what we’re giving. So give the good stuff, and give it generously; and now, or later, we’ll receive by the same measure.

Thought for the day: Lord, help me always to be open to your truth, no matter how you present it. And help me to be generous today, in every way that I can. Thank you. Amen.

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"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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