Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 20
February 24, 2008
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
1901 ASV Translation:
35 But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.
- I. The Conundrum in Jesus' Words: "...Hoping For Nothing...Your Reward Shall Be Great...".
- A. The NASB translators render the phrase "...expecting nothing back...". This is more "on target" in that it focuses upon the object of the lender. The lender should not expect any return on his loan from the person to whom the loan was made. That leaves the door open to an "expectation" that arises from another source.
- B. Even Jesus, we are told, "...for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross...". Thus, there is nothing inherently wrong with expecting that one's actions will bring a desired result.
- C. What are the "ethics" of taking action to accomplish one's own goals? How is loaning in order to increase one's wealth different from freely giving in order to have a great reward?
- 1. One of the crucial realities involved in this entire subject is the fact that persons do not cease to exist. This is important because actions generate results. This is a most fundamental reality. Then, actions impact others. Because others never cease to exist, the impact is on-going. Because the impact is on-going, the questions of ethics become most important: can 'wrongs' ever be 'righted' and can 'right actions' ever be defeated?
- 2. Jesus taught that "...ye shall be sons of the Most High..." by anticipating a great reward.
- 3. This has to mean that God does things to accomplish certain results. That is a kind of "duh" statement, but the Scriptures make "selfishness" a great evil and the doing of things "for a great reward" a great good. Where are the differences? Why is it not "selfish" to do things to gain a great reward?
- a. For one thing, the issue of the impact of one's actions upon others has to come into play. If I gain at another's expense, have I done wrong? If I gain eternal life because Jesus suffered Death for me, am I ethically wrong? If I kill Jesus in order to obtain eternal life, my ethics need serious examination.
- b. For another thing, the issue of what constitutes a great "reward" and a great "disaster" must be taken into account. If, for instance, I cause another actual physical pain in order to obtain a greater degree of monetary wealth, the issues of what have to be considered. Actual physical pain is a element in "Death" whereas a greater degree of monetary wealth is fundamentally a "non-entity", or an "overt idolatry". If "wealth" is imbued with the capacity to impart "Life", it is idolatry; and, if it cannot impart "Life" of what value is it?
- c. The bottom line seems to involve two particulars: "what is going to be the result?"; and, "how is that result going to be achieved?".
- 1) When a person is promised "a great reward", the first consideration is the actual nature of that reward.
- a) It seems to be the overall biblical position that "joy" is the actual nature of anything that can be considered the final "reward".
- i. Jesus did what He did "for the joy that was set before Him" (Hebrews 12:2).
- ii. James urged his readers to resist temptation by "considering" the issue of "all joy" (James 1:2).
- iii. Paul characterized the Kingdom as a place of "righteousness", "peace", and "joy" in the order of "means" and "the end" ["righteousness" yields "peace" and "peace" yields "joy" -- this makes "joy" the "final objective"].
- b) Everything else that is considered a "reward" is a link in the chain of means to the final end.
- 2) When a person is promised "a great reward", the second consideration is the actual means to that reward.
- a) Because "joy" is the end result of "peace", the greater the "peace", the deeper the "joy".
- b) Since "joy" is tied to "peace", it stands to reason that whatever can create greater "peace" will result in greater "joy"; therefore, we must pursue "peace" with as many as we can (Hebrews 12:14). And how is that done? Paul says that "righteousness" yields "peace" and "unrighteousness" yields the conflict of Death. Therefore, the "means" to peace is righteous action in the context of "kindness" as Jesus said in Luke 6:35.
- i. Technically, it is "righteous" action to repay the unrighteous with the just desserts of their behavior.
- ii. But, just as technically, no man can do that. There are too many details in any "repayment" scheme for any man to be able to "get it right". Therefore, we are commanded to refuse to seek vengeance for the simple reason that we will do unrighteousness in our pursuit of righteousness (Romans 12:19). And, since we cannot, in any case, "get it right", we are free to do as much in the opposite direction as we can: we can love our enemies, do good to them who hate us, and lend to those who cannot repay us and let God worry about the final issue of establishing righteousness in judgment.