If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do that.
And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full.
But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.
Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.
For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.
Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Give, and it will be given to you;
A good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
He also told them a parable: “Can the blind guide the blind? Won’t they both fall into a pit?
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
-Luke 3:27-40 (HCSB)
I was thinking about the issue of reciprocal relationships and mutuality, how there is an equal giving on both sides. The idea is that if someone does not give to you, then you do not give to them; or as the saying goes, "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours".
It turns out that these ideas run counter to the lifestyle that Jesus laid out for his disciples. The first verse of the passage above tells me that Jesus wants me to love people who are not loving to me. Jesus says that I don't get credit when I just love the ones who love me.
Credit means grace, favor, or blessing. Jesus is saying that when I love the ones who aren't loving towards me, I get grace, favor, or blessing from God. Then, I am living out my heritage as a son of the Most High and will get rewarded.
Within the same context, Jesus tells me that I am not to judge and not to condemn. The command not to condemn clarifies how we are not to judge. We can speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and not be condemning.
Wrongly judging is to pronounce judgement. To say that, "sin leads to death and and I see you dying in sin", is not condemnation although it might be received that way. To say, "that's wrong", when we see someone hurting another, committing murder as the foremost example, is not wrongly judging.
I think that in the context of the lifestyle of mercy and generosity that Jesus teaches his disciples, he is saying not to punish, exclude, or shun someone who is unloving, ungenerous, and unmerciful towards us. The disciple's eye is on God, who is the rewarder of godliness and the judge of the ungodly.
The way of the world is reciprocity expressed in a purely symbiotic, parasitic relationship; where we enter in and consume from each other purely out of self interest. That is the complete opposite of kingdom living. In the kingdom we love the not so loving, give where it is not returned, and do good to those who act like they don't care about us.
The kingdom lifestyle, the way of the disciple of Jesus, is to give to others - time, money, and our emotional energy; while not expecting a return. But, the other side of that same coin is that the disciple has their eye on God.
Jesus teaches us how to relate to people and relate to God. The key is that our reward is from God, from Father. The disciple experiences being a child of the Most High, in their earthly life; of which the fruit is how we relate to people.
God gives disciples merciful, generous hearts that reflect Father and the Master, Jesus' character. Discipleship is training for life in relating to others like Jesus. That is where we are going.
My original text I started with, when I was pondering how I am supposed to relate to people who do not reciprocate very much, was Luke 6, verse 32, that says, "what credit is that to you?". I got the point, that Jesus was saying, "reciprocal, matching-grant-relationships is not what you, my disciple are called to..." He wants me to live in the kingdom lifestyle that he taught.
Another way of saying, "what credit is that to you?", is, "where is the grace or blessing in that?" We are called to be a blessing and to be gracious. When someone experiences graciousness, it means that unmerited favor was given to them.
We, as Christians, and we, as disciples are called to be purveyors of grace and blessing through generosity and mercifulness. The payment for that lifestyle is from Father. Sons and daughters act like their papa.
Jesus teaches us that that is where we, his followers, are headed. Believers receive his call to become his disciples. Disciples grow into being sons and daughters, as a lifestyle. All believers are called to be disciples.
What do you call a "Christian" who is not a disciple? What do you call a home-group leader, a seminarian, a teacher, or an ordained minister that is not a disciple?
The path goes like this: believer -----> disciple -----> servant -------> child & slave. This post is not about the paradox of being a child of God and a slave, nor is is about being a servant. My point here is that if you are a believer, then you get to enroll in discipleship. And my question is how do we define ourselves as believers or Christians, but then we bypass discipleship? What then does that make us?
It is never too late to begin being a disciple. Let's go.
The photo above is of the "Monument of Mercy", depicting Richard Rowland Kirkland.