Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 17
Thesis: Give without expecting any return.
Introduction: According to 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, two of the major reasons for honest labor are providing an honest testimony toward unbelievers and providing for your own needs. And, according to Ephesians 4:28, a third reason for working is to be able to "give to him that needeth". These really boil down to two: providing for your own needs and the needs of others.
In our last study in Luke, we considered Jesus' requirement that we "withhold not our shirts" when someone would take our coats. We discovered that Jesus was addressing the particular situation that existed when a poor person, operating under the Law of Moses, turned to a wealthier one for a "loan" and pledged his clothes for collateral. The instruction of Jesus was definitive: pay your debts even if it leaves you naked and humiliated.
This morning we are going to look at the next thing Jesus said. It is recorded in Luke 6:30 and consists of a command to "give to everyone who asks of you and do not ask for what you have given to be returned". As with all of the other instructions, this one needs to be understood according to its own context.
February 3, 2008
- I. The Context.
- A. A defining context exists.
- 1. Without such, one ends up being "required" to give anything one has to anyone who asks for it (a greedy rich man "asks" a poor man for his only possession; a teen asks his parents for a new Corvette; a thief "asks" for your wallet and credit cards; etc.).
- 2. Without such, love is actually destroyed in its own name (a drug addict "asks" for money to buy his drug of choice).
- B. The defining context is found in the words and context of Jesus' instruction.
- 1. The compound statement concerns one issue: giving without requiring the given thing to be returned (this is established by 6:34).
- 2. In the structure of the text we find that the issue continues to involve the problem of people using borrowing and lending as a way to provide for themselves and to accumulate wealth.
- a. As we have seen for the previous two weeks, the issues of this unit of teaching are stated and then twice repeated.
- b. In the parallel passage of Matthew 5:42, the "giving" is deliberately set in the context of "borrowing".
- 3. This specific instruction is simply "the other side of the coin" for the previous command regarding the payment of debts.
- a. If a "poor" person is going to turn to "borrowing" in order to obtain the necessities of life, he is under obligation to honor whatever agreements have been made in that setting.
- b. On the other hand, what is a "rich" person to do when faced with a person whose poverty has reached to the point where that person seeks that kind of help?
- 4. This means that the "defining context" is not "simply" a "borrowing/lending" setting, but a "borrowing/lending" setting that has to do with the meeting of what Paul insisted are the two issues of physical life: food and covering.
- a. This setting allows Jesus' teaching to conform to that of His primary New Testament "apostle" who not only insisted that we be content if we have food and covering, but also demanded that no one provide for anyone who refused to work to provide for his/her own needs (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
- 1) Every teaching of Scripture conforms to every other teaching when both are properly understood.
- 2) This instruction has a couple of obvious assumptions.
- a) The first assumption is that one has legitimately rejected the intention of getting wealthy.
- i. There is a difference between obtaining wealth as a consequence of honest labor without any intention of so doing and intentionally making the obtaining of wealth a goal in life.
- ii. There is only one legitimate intention for the disciple of Jesus: doing what He has set before him/her as a steward and being "content" with the basics of life.
- b) The other assumption is that one has the ability to labor to provide for him/herself (the incapable have to be provided for by those who are capable).
- b. This setting does not "disallow" lending as a legitimate form of business.
- 1) There are two kinds of "borrowers".
- a) Some "borrow" because they lack both the basic necessities and the faith that God will supply for them as they seek His Kingdom and righteousness.
- b) Others "borrow" because they lack the contentment of their own "needless" setting.
- 2) Thus, there can be a legitimate function of "lending"...to those who have the basics, but want more and have the collateral to allow them to pursue more.
- c. This setting is restricted to the personal lives of His disciples, not their business lives.
- 1) A person can be a faithful disciple and work in a business that functions in a "borrowing/lending" economic culture.
- 2) The issue is not one's "business" but one's personal response to the needs of others.
- II. The Meaning.
- A. The instruction means that when a believer is faced with an individual who has come to the point of no food, nor covering, he is to give freely to provide those necessities.
- B. The instruction does not mean that a believer must take on an indefinite commitment to provide for anyone/everyone who is at the point of no food, nor covering.
- C. The instruction does not mean that any believer has any obligation to provide for others who will not be personally responsible.
- D. The instruction does not mean that believers cannot function as business people in the economic structure of their cultural setting.